He Did It for Us: RIP Dave

For me, De La Soul has always been one of the most natural rap groups of all time. I don't mean to say that their music stems naturally from the earth, or spiritually from some ethereal plane as their name might be read to imply. I mean that their members complement one another so well, it's hard to imagine one without the others. Pos and Dave rap like lifelong friends in conversation, starting, continuing, and finishing each others' sentences, their exchange-routines so fluid the numbers 1 and 2 become more for the audience's benefit than anything else. I cannot begin to imagine what Posdnuos and Maseo are going through. 

The singular expression of the human experience Dave shared with the world through his words and voice goes far beyond music. In that sense, it's futile to lament how much the world loses in his absence. It's a shame that De La Soul's legacy and Dave's obituaries seem forever tied to industry politics when their art has so much more to offer; as reductive as dismissing the group as hippies or hearing Stakes Is High only as a reaction to the commodification of hip-hop culture. Those who wish to dwell on these points might do well to check out First Serve, Dave and Pos' 2012 concept album where they play two 20-somethings with a dream of making it in the rap game of that era. Ironically, this project, which has never not been available online, says more about industry politics than any article ever written on De La Soul's relationship with sampling and streaming.

On First Serve, Dave portrays not only one of the two main characters, rapper Dean "D" Witter, but also D's mother, Lenore Agnes Witter. I was playing the album on my way to work this past week. Ma Witter's appearance on "Clash Symphony" elicited in me one of those deep belly laughs, a kind of catharsis I guess. 

Am I just another lost in the pack? 
We Horshack shit, you know, laugh it off
The years just blow by
My eyes stay fixed but the picture's kind of out of focus
I cry a lot but admit to it
Enjoying life now but I been through it
Sometimes I wish that I can go back
No bills, no kids, just getting to' back
I want a wife, I love women
How could I front like I don't be in love with 'em
A little man that I could teach
A little sand but not the beach
I figure excess'll only bring an excessive amount of fuss
So when I'm gone make sure the head stone reads he did it for us
I'm like a modern-day Jesus
I cherish warm thoughts like a Grey Goose
And float soft kisses to my baby (Yo ain't that Dave's little girl?)
Yeah, respect for that, she gonna be somebody
Instead of somebody baby mama
You see, young minds are now made of armor
I'm tryna pop a hole in your Yankee cap, absorb me
The skies over your head ain't safe no more
And hip-hop ain't your home
And if it is you fucking up the crib, son
You make life look like I don't wanna live one
You might as well hold your breath until you die in a corner
Somewhere bent over in the crevasse
This God theory overcomes the worst of weathers
As long as you willing to try
You on a good start, homie
You on a good start so get to trying

People are you ready?
Are you really ready?
Ready for the change that may approach you?
Follow down the path that you supposed to
People are you ready?
Are you really ready to try?
You know mistakes are trials that we learn from
In order to live life, you must earn one
People are you ready?

RIP David "Trugoy" Jolicoeur. 

(Everyone reading this, be sure to run up these De La Soul album pre-orders.)

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