De La Soul, circa 1990 (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

After being banned from selling and distributing their music (thanks to The Turtles and The Beastie Boys), De La Soul’s music is finally available on streaming platforms.

As one of the most influential rap groups of the ‘90s, their absence has been felt heavily, especially by people who grew up listening to their music. The group: Trugoy, Maseo, and Posdnuos, formed while in high school, and while figuring out their style of music and creativity, they did what many artists do – sample other songs.

In one song, “Transmitting Live from Mars,” they sampled a 12-second segment of the song “You Showed Me” by The Turtles. Copyright laws can get confusing and subjective, but there is a “fair use” policy, defined by as “A copyright provision that permits you to use 10, 15, or 30 seconds of music without copyright obligation. That is, you understand that you can use a short section of a song without paying a fee.”

De La Soul’s song was so great that the daughter of one member of The Turtles purchased the record. When she was listening to it in her room, her dad asked if she knew whose song she was playing and she answered, “De La Soul.” He was furious that his daughter recognized his song as somebody else’s, so two Turtles, Howard Kaylan, and Mark Volman, sued the group for $2.5 million dollars and wrecked De La Soul’s career.

Volman famously stated, “Anybody who can honestly say sampling is some sort of creativity has never done anything creative.” The intention in that is very ironic because the first hit song The Turtles produced was a cover of a Bob Dylan song. If they are so keen on being original with creating music, where was that energy the entire time White people have been appropriating Black music? Yes, using a 12 second sample of a song without getting permission from the artist is problematic. However, entire genres such as jazz, blues, rock, and hip-hop have been used and appropriated without crediting the community that created them. The genre of The Turtles’ music as a whole was paved by Black artists, like Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and countless others. Although The Turtles may have not been directly sampled from those artists, all American music originates from Black people, and ‘60s psychedelic/rock to a great extent.

While De La Soul having the freedom to release their music on streaming platforms is extremely exciting, there is a bittersweet aspect to the whole situation because Trugoy passed away just a few weeks ago. In a New York Times article, Maseo talked about this, saying, “We fought so hard and so long for it. For him not to be here, it’s awkward; it hurts.” Still, Posdnuos and Maseo have been able to celebrate while simultaneously mourning the loss of their best friend.

I know I will definitely be listening to their whole discography, and you should too! If you listen to any variation/style of rap, it’s extremely important to learn about the origins and history of it. De La Soul is a great group to learn from because of the oppression they have been through, and the impact they have made on the entire genre of music. Let us know your favorite songs!