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DE LA SOUL formed while the trio of Kelvin Mercer, David Jolicoeur, and Pasemaster Mase were attending high school in the late 1980s. Their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, was released in 1989, and the group was quickly labeled "neo-hippie" for its odd mix of low-key rhymes, a peace-and-love message, high-school goofiness, and sonic eclecticism. "Me, Myself and I" became a Top 40 pop hit, and both the single and the album reached No. 1 on the R&B charts.

De La Soul was quickly perceived as the leaders of a contingent the New York-based alternative rappers self-dubbed the Native Tongues posse, including A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, the Jungle Brothers, and Monie Love. In 1989 De La Soul and the Native Tongues posse were hailed as the future of hip-hop, but their popularity was quickly eclipsed by that of considerably harder-edged gangsta rap.

Subsequent releases - De La Soul Is Dead (1991), Buhloone Mindstate (1994), and Stakes Is High (1996), - retain the wit of the first album, but show the evolution of the trio into a darker, funkier De La Soul, with more thought-provoking lyrics and a drier, mellower old-school hip-hop along the lines of the Roots or A Tribe Called Quest.

In 2000 De La Soul launched the Art Official Intelligence series with Mosaic Thump (which debuted in the Top Ten), followed by AOI: Bionix in 2001. Their latest album, The Grind Date, on Sanctuary records, is set for release September 28.