De La Soul on Their Kickstarter-Funded Comeback Album: 'We Didn't Feel Comfortable Getting Back in Bed With a Label'

Streaming is driving the genre’s return after a flat 2014. Will pop radio catch on?

Eleven years after its last album, De La Soul turned to fans for a comeback. The legendary rap trio announced earlier in May that it had raised more than $600,000 on Kickstarter for a new LP -- the second-highest amount ever for a music project on the site. Also on tap? Two limited-edition Nike kicks, a 10th-anniversary follow-up to the trio’s 2005 Dunks, which featured holographic details. De La’s Dave, 43, explains the group’s late-career renaissance.

Why Kickstart your new album?

We didn’t feel comfortable getting back in bed with a label and anybody sticking their fingers in. We felt like the people who have faith in our product without any questions would be fans. People are believing in us -- you can’t beat that.

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Were you worried that it would make fans question your financial status?

There were reservations. It’s not that we’re broke -- these things cost money. The fans aren’t looking to loan it to you or get anything back. They want the album. It was the best thing to do.

Your 2005 Nikes now sell for four-times retail on eBay. How has sneaker culture evolved since then?

It’s fanatical. People buy four pairs, put three boxes away and rock one. After-market, some sneakers can go for a grand or two. That’s cool -- if that’s what you’re into. But I think it’s a little crazy when people spend their monthly savings just for a pair. 

This article first appeared in the May 23 issue of Billboard.


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