Photo by Eric Tra
As the members of De La Soul explain it, they never intended to release a song addressing the events in Ferguson, Missouri. However, thanks to a bit of coincidental timing, “The People”, featuring Public Enemy’s own Chuck D, has become something of an “accidental” protest anthem.
“Originally ‘The People’ was supposed to drop in June, around the same time the Chuck D/Hot 97/Rosenberg situation took place,” De La Soul’s Trugoy told Rolling Stone. “We chose to hold off and not add fuel to any fires. Our next aim was for a Black Friday release. Coincidentally, the Ferguson tragedy took place and now the non-indictment verdict. Somehow this song was destined to be a part of something more than just dropping a joint. We hope it will lend itself to something positive in these difficult times.”
“The People” is nonetheless a powerful rallying cry. Over a triumphant beat of vintage horn and turntable scratches, the collective addresses a myriad of topics, from the power of self-actualization to the importance of family and community and the inherent power of rebelling against a broken system.
Added Trugoy, “The idea for the song came from a couple of samples, and the track’s vibe is earnest and has a pressing tone to it. The lyrics are commentaries of our struggles and successes, our weaknesses and strengths … the experiences … and trials and tribulations we have faced as human beings, a race, and as individuals. Lyrically, Chuck brings a sense of authority and urgency. The power in his voice demands your attention. With Chuck on the track this is a dream come true for us.”
Listen in below. The song is also available for free download via De La Soul’s website.
Additionally, De La Soul is holding a benefit merch sale on its website. All proceeds will go to benefit All Star Code, which teaches computer program to young African-Americans, and I Love Ferguson, which helps those Ferguson businesses affected by the protests.
In related news, De La Soul’s new album, the group’s first since 2004’s The Grind Date, will arrive sometime in 2015.