De La Soul Grind It Out

Vets claim their place in hip-hop history, and the classroom

De La Soul's seventh album,The Grind Date, is aptly titled, as the hip-hop vets have been slogging away for fifteen years. "We've remained relevant," says Pos, "but it's been a lot of work."

The Grind Date is De La Soul's first since 2001'sAOI: Bionix and it's the debut release on Sanctuary Urban Records Group, the fledgling hip-hop label of Destiny's Child manager (and Beyonce's father) Matthew Knowles. And while the De La Soul always strives to be innovative, they delivered more thoughtful, narrative songs -- especially the first single, "Shopping Bags."

"It focuses on how men trick women," Pos says. "I was like, 'Wow, that's not something men usually talk about.' They want to pay for the drinks to get something in return."

The album features a guest spot from director Spike Lee, who introduces "Church." "It just reminded me of the end of [Lee's 1988 film]School Daze, when Laurence Fishburne screams "Wake up!'" Pos says. "I was like, 'Yo, that would be great if we could get Spike Lee.' He was in the middle of scouting for a movie, but he gave a call and said, 'Look, I'm in the area.' And he was in and out in five minutes."

De La Soul will embark on an extensive tour with a stop in a rather unconventional venue: a college classroom -- the group is set to lecture on the subject of hip-hop at New York University this fall. Pos says that while being a hip-hop veteran doesn't mean he has license to be more critical of younger acts, he does claim to have a bit more perspective.

"My problem [with hip-hop] is there's no balance," he explains. "Before I even came on in rap, there was always drugs and materialism. But there was also always a balance . . . Alongside [Naughty by Nature's] 'O.P.P.,' there was [Public Enemy's] 'Fight the Power.' Alongside N.W.A there was [De La Soul's]3 Feet High and Rising . . . We just play a balance in comparison to what everybody else is doing."

De La Soul tour dates:

10/19: Atlanta, GA, Earthlink Live
10/20: Charleston, SC, Music Farm
10/21: Lexington, KY, The Dame
10/22: Washington, DC, 9:30 Club
10/23: Amagansett, NY, Stephen Talkhouse
10/24: New Haven, CT, Toad's Place
10/25: Boston, Paradise Rock Club
10/26: Philadelphia, The Trocadero, Balcony Bar
10/27: New York, B.B. King's Blues Club
10/29: Northampton, MA, Pearl Street
10/31: Toronto, Phoenix Concert Theatre
11/1: Pittsburgh, Mr. Smalls Fun House
11/2: Cleveland, Peabody's Down Under
11/3: Columbus, OH, Al Rosa Villa
11/4: Bloomington, IN, Bluebird Nightclub
11/7: Lawrence, KS, Granada Theatre
11/8: Boulder, CO, Fox Theatre
11/9: Colorado Springs, CO, 32 Bleu
11/10: Salt Lake City, Shaggy's Velvet Room
11/12: Portland, OR, Roseland Theater
11/15: Seattle, Showbox
11/16: Eugene, OR, McDonald Theatre
11/17: San Francisco, Slim's
11/18: Sacramento, Empire
11/19: Santa Cruz, CA, The Catalyst
11/20: West Hollywood, CA, House of Blues