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A Guide to De La Soul’s Pioneering Early Albums, Finally Available on Streaming Services

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Todd Gilchrist editor It’s impossible to overstate the impact of De La Soul on hip-hop music and its culture — but for decades, their groundbreaking early albums were not widely available, due to a morass of legal complications that kept them out of circulation, and, crucially, off of streaming services.

But today, the shackles are off, the samples are cleared (or worked around) and the albums, most notably their galvanizing platinum 1989 debut “3 Feet High and Rising,” can be streamed legally.

The group had the great misfortune of being a precedent for now-common sampling laws, and the dense thicket of samples on their albums, and other associated legal dramas, kept their music out of mainstream circulation for many years.

But as part of its acquisition of the Tommy Boy Records catalog, New York-based Reservoir Media has resolved the litigious quagmire that surrounded the group’s first six albums, allowing the group to distribute them on streaming platforms (and vinyl) via Chrysalis Records. “3 Feet High and Rising” is one of the most important and pioneering albums in hip-hop history — yet even as one of the biggest hits from the album, “The Magic Number,” was used over the end credits for the 2021 blockbuster film “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the song was not legally available to stream or purchase.

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