Today [Saturday, July 2] marks the 20th anniversary of De La Soul‘s fourth album, Stakes Is High. The title accurately describes the point in Posdnous, Dave and Maseo‘s careers where they were at a crossroads. Stakes Is High would be the first album that wouldn’t feature longtime producer Prince Paul behind the production board.
After all, Paul had been more or less like the fourth member of the group, and had his imprint on De La’s 1989 debut, 3 Feet High and Rising, 1991’s De La Soul is Dead and 1993’s Buhloone Mindstate. Stakes Is High found Posdnous, Dave and Maseo with more of a role in the actual production of the album with J Dilla producing the title track. It was not a commercial success, although it’s heralded as a classic, one that every Hip Hop fan should have in his or her collection.
De La is preparing to drop their long awaited ninth studio album, And The Anonymous Nobody, which is scheduled for release on August 26, 2016. It’s rare groups stay together this long, but their longevity is a testament to their indispensable contributions to Hip Hop culture.
“I truly attribute the longevity to our commitment as friends regardless of the disagreements at times, as well as our common goal to be a group in the tradition of hip-hop based on what we’ve learned from the beginning when we were just fans of the culture,” Maseo says. “The reinvention of each album became a purpose due to the fact that we’ve learned how a label can taint the image of your music and message for sales. The reinventing became a significant part of the longevity.”