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April 29, 2009

DE LA SOUL - ARE YOU IN?: Nike+ Original Run Series - Drops Today on I-TUNES!!!

De La Soul - Big Mouf / from the Nike Album “Are You In?”

From Nike, the world’s leading sports brand, comes an exclusive release by De La Soul, one of the most influential hip hop bands of the last two decades. Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul and Nike release ARE YOU IN?: Nike+ Original Run, which is the groups’ first-released original material in five-years. The record is only available through iTunes, and is part of a continuing series of releases through the “Nike+ Sport Music” section of the store.

With additional production by Chicago-based DJ/Production-duo Flosstradamus, ARE YOU IN?: Nike+ Original Run is a unique album written specifically for runners, but its allure extends to all music fans. Posdnuos of De La Soul explains, “When we first heard about this project we were psyched on the challenge. We pride ourselves on being able to get bodies moving, so it was cool to do it with a specific goal in mind – giving runners the sonic fuel to clock some miles.” The album is now available at the Apple iTunes Music Store. - [source - HYPEBEAST]

ARE YOU IN?: Nike+ Original Run is a continuous full-length body of music that reflects the arc a runner experiences during a run. Commissioned by Nike, this new installment with De La is the fifth release in the Nike+ Original Run series, following releases by artists such as A-Trak, Aesop Rock, LCD Soundsystem and Crystal Method.

The new release features cover artwork by famed designer Joe Buckingham and an exclusive single.

The record is out now, and available through iTunes for $9.99.



Are You In? BLENDER Interview's De La Soul

De La Soul is not dead. One listen to Are You In?, the legendary hip-hop trio's installment in the Nike+ Original Run series, proves this. The music is uplifting and inspiring, and it has to be; it's meant to be listened to over the length of an exercise session. It's a continuous piece full of highs and lows, quick changes, and reprises, meant to mirror the arcs of a 45-minute workout, which is why it's being released as one big MP3. It's more than an album, it's a lifestyle. And yes, the album, which also features some production from Chicago duo Flosstradamus, is a fitting tribute to 3 Feet High And Rising, De La's storied debut, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Clearly excited about the final result, the band were more than happy to speak about it, as well as their 2006 Nike collaboration, in which De La helped create two versions of the Nike Dunk, a shoe that sold out instantly. So yeah, in the beginning, it was all about the shoe...

So, how did this happen?
Maseo: You can pretty much say that it started with the shoe. After [the shoe design] we continued to do various things for Nike... performances and events. Then, another division of Nike came to us with this idea. We were definitely honored to be approached with another challenge, something innovative, something different, you know? And it fell into the line of what we’ve always done in a lot of our music which is constantly reinventing, doing something new and innovative.

Did Nike give you any guidelines?
Trugoy: Just in terms of knowing they wanted to follow a format of how a runner will run. Like warming up, do a little stretching, start out slow, go hard, slow down... the normal way that a runner will run. Otherwise, they definitely made us feel like "be De La,"... once we got to that point, it was just full speed from there.

Musically, what's it like from start to finish?
Maseo: There’s still peaks and valleys - what’s necessary for a person who is exercising to get into it... We were definitely trying to maintain the tempo margin of what Nike gave us and really just making cool songs.

Posdnuos: It did go into stages of making certain songs, having different runners who are part of Nike run to it, test it out, then give us their feedback: 'out of these songs, these work.' Alright cool, then we could build all the little bridges onto the core songs... We always try to connect our music. So doing something that's supposed to be seamless - the way Nike wanted this done - was easy in our model.

Maseo: I think the panic part was in the beginning stages. Trying to envision people who work out. Me being at home looking at workout videos and envisioning the music. And once we came in with different songs that we thought they were looking for, they gave us a nice smack. 'No, that’s not really it. We want you to be De La, but conscious of the BPM [beats per minute] margin so people can run.' And that worked out. Of course, no one is going to be working out 80 BPMs and less.

Trugoy: And even with that, we didn’t sit down and slow down our machines or find samples; we just got to the point where we thought, Let’s record music and afterward decide what’s fitting for this forty-five minute period. It’s so challenging in the beginning when you’ve never tried something... Sometimes you find yourselves trying to find the easy route out and - shame on us - De La has never taken the easy way out. It’s about creating De La music and hopefully people will warm up to it and appreciate it and understand it for what it is.

Did you try to modify an existing piece when Nike came back with feedback, or did you decide, 'Time for new stuff?'
Maseo: The feedback came back with them liking a lot of what we did, but what they didn’t like surprised us - what we thought was more in the line of what they wanted. And what we really liked made the record. So it worked out that they got the piece of De La that they wanted and what we wanted to give. It was honestly really fun and intriguing. Just as much as it was different for us, it was different for them, and everyone was just really inspired to be a part of making this great project.

Did your recent time off help in creating this project?
Maseo: Yes, yes, yes. Yeah, I really think it did - we’ve approached this project with clear minds and a clean slate. We reverted back to things that were comfortable to us - a sound and style - but for the most part we moved forward while learning a few things. I can see how this project will probably be a lesson learned for the future. I think that time off definitely played a good part.

How so?
Maseo: You know, I think De La has always been about experimenting, but the early stages, 3 Feet High and Rising and De La Soul is Dead, [the experimentation] was just without any concern and regard. And I think as time has rolled on, you find yourselves putting up some walls and not doing this and not doing that. And I think this project kinda gave us confidence to knock those walls down again... experimenting with electro sounds, not always having that hip hop feel. It reintroduced that idea, just being free and recording records in whatever style it is... country, electronic, reggae - as long as it feels good and sounds right, you know? Give it a chance.

So, what’s next?
Posdnuos: Real estate! No, just kidding. Really, continuing to help this project. As a group, we’ve been blessed when people come to us and tell us we’ve inspired them. We think Nike, as a brand, has done the same thing, so this union has really being a blessing. We are focusing on this, but are definitely looking at putting out more music, as well. This year we are celebrating 20 years of 3 Feet and Rising.

What are you doing to celebrate?
Posdnuos: Definitely touring!

Trugoy: We are working on putting together a world tour. We want to do something a little special like invading a city, a country. Going a week somewhere, just chilling out and doing a couple of things. People often say De La are great performers, but we have ideas and concepts that we just haven’t had the time to display; we want to do interesting things visually and bring some people on the road. When you work tight schedules and tours, and other people are working and you're trying to do something incredible - sometimes it doesn’t work out. So far we’ve found that there are some people who are really happy for us, our 20th anniversary, and they want to put time aside to come in with us and do some performances. And we're looking to do some production and some visuals and do something kinda impressive... Bringing our 11-piece band... Just doing something cool. I think hip-hop… it's sometimes without its cool element, and I don’t mean cool like "What’s new," but cool like “Wow, look what they did” kinda of a thing. I am guessing this year we'll hopefully have at least five of those gigs around the country, hopefully more.

How does the 20th anniversary feel?
Posdnuos: It’s almost like… Sometimes it feels like “Wow, it’s been that long?” because it really doesn’t feel that long to me. It really doesn’t, so it’s more like, "Wow, we’ve accomplished so much and been around this so long and we have music that's still being talked about today and people appreciate them." It’s a blessing because we're fans of music and there are people or groups that we look at like that - like 'Wow, this person,' or Run-DMC, or whoever - and to feel that someone could come across and let us know: “Yo, you don't know what your music means to me... it’s been the soundtrack through our lives.” It’s a blessing. It really is.

Trugoy: [The anniversary] is a great excuse to do something else. I mean that’s the way I kinda look at it. OK, twenty years, let’s celebrate, but not only bask in the light of the accomplishment, but yo, let’s do something. Let’s write a book, you know? What we're working on now is an art exhibit that we want to do, to travel around the world and bring out artists that we know are cool and hip, who are fans of De La, and let them do some art and interpret what De La means to them or what a song means or what an album means, or maybe their interpretation of an album cover. So we're putting that together now. This twentieth anniversary, it gives us a springboard to try some different things as opposed to just saying, “Yeah, we did it - give me my badge of honor,” you know? It’s a cool excuse to do some nice things.

De La Soul's Are You In?: Nike+ Original Run is out today via iTunes.