To promote their most recent album funded by crowd sourcing, De La Soul have been back on the road touring ‘and the Anonymous Nobody…’ Their sold out show in London’s The Roundhouse proves that their prevalence within the hip-hop genre is still pertinent, even after almost 30 years of activity.

The 29-year-old hip-hop band has shown that crowd funding could be the future within the music industry. They received $600,874 from 11,169 backers on the site Kickstarter in order to create their first album in 11 years after having only pledged a target of $110,000.

They surpassed this goal in just over 11 hours, highlighting the demand for a new record from the trio. After separating from their record company, they became independent artists to ensure they had complete creative control over the new album. Although the album release date was postponed due to certain legal agreements with guest appearances, the much-anticipated 2016 record was worth the wait, featuring Damon Albarn, 2 Chainz, Little Dragon, Usher, and David Byrne to name just a few collaborators.

On the night, the stage of the Camden venue was filled within musicians, immediately indicating for an enthralling performance from the group. Sadly, the trio’s DJ, Maseo, had been hospitalised around the time of the show. However, the enigmatic DJ Strike took to the turntables as a fitting replacement for the show. Along with the nine-piece funk band, the crowd warmly received the DJ.

De La Soul did not fail on entertainment value, engaging the audience to compete for the loudest side, with Posdnous and Dave displaying excellent showmanship.

Although the show was to promote the new album, the band started with older songs from their catalogue. The vintage songs such as ‘Me, Myself, and I’, ‘Pass the Plugs’, ‘Eye Know’, and ‘Stakes is High’ are interspersed with the funk-infused tracks off the new album.  After being promised special guests, the crowd awaited which performers they would bring on stage from their star-studded new album.

Posdnous and Dave announced their first guest of the night to join them on stage. Estelle, who features on the track ‘Memory of… (Us)’ off their latest record, joined the band for a soft rendition of the song. Although her vocals quiet, Estelle floated around the stage with confidence and grace, offering a lovely performance. The original song also features rap vocals from Pete Rock, who sadly did not attend.

The band didn’t fail to incessantly remind the audience that they’re veterans to this now. “We been doing this…for thirty years”, was the phrase of the evening, rather fitting, as it features as a lyric in ‘Property of Spitkicker.com’ from the new record.

Although the appearance of Snoop Dog was unlikely, the band failed to play their most iconic new song, ‘Pain’, which the California rapper features on. Although, they did play brass-heavy ‘Royalty Capes’ and ‘Trackwreck’, featuring a sample from James Brown. These two tracks juxtapose against the classic songs from their debut Three Feet High and Rising and The Grind Date.

The night concluded with a special guest performance from Damon Alban, who did not perform the track he featured on from the new record. He made an exuberant speech praising the band that he has collaborated with on many occasions. However, much to the audience’s delight, the distinctive bass line from ‘Feel Good Inc.’ kicked in, which raised all of the seated ticket holders to their feet.

De La Soul has shown that an absence from the studio has not damaged their career. Although feeling slightly cheated by the lack of tracks from ‘and the Anonymous Nobody…’ the performance was impeccable, with the live band supporting the rappers meticulously.

The guest performances were no surprise, as Estelle has not met huge success since ‘American Boy’ and Albarn lives round the corner from the London venue, but the Gorillaz collaboration was enough to leave the audience thoroughly entertained. The Long Island MCs most definitely resist the temptation to classify them as a dated act.

It was recently leaked that De La Soul will apparently feature on Gorillaz’ new record set to be released in April.

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Louisa Streeting

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