DJ Maseo has spun thousands of sets over the course of his four decades in the music business, but like the saying goes, you never forget your first.
“It was always about the sound system, so wherever the people were dancing, that’s where the speakers were,” he says. “The DJ was always in another room, so you couldn’t see who it was.”
It was his mother’s housewarming party in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, and he was 11 years old, subbing briefly for the actual DJ. It was a trial by fire.
“It was, like, either rock the party or get your ass kicked, because I wasn’t supposed to be up anyway.”
DJ Maseo was born Vincent Lamont Mason, Jr. in Brooklyn on March 24, 1970, and he currently lives in Florida. He joined with childhood friends Kelvin Mercer (aka “Posdnuos”) and David Jude Jolicoeur (aka “Trugoy the Dove”) to form De La Soul in 1987. Within a year, their first single, “Plug Tunin’,” had caught the ear of the legendary Prince Paul, who helped get them signed to Tommy Boy that year (and remains a close collaborator to this day).
The group’s debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, dropped in 1989. To call it an instant classic would be an understatement. It is one of the essential hip hop recordings of all-time, a cultural signpost and a key document of what everyone acknowledges as that genre’s golden age. The track “Potholes In My Lawn” converted an entire generation of fans. De La Soul were linked with fellow alt-rap icons A Tribe Called Quest and Jungle Brothers. Together they were known as the “Native Tongues Posse,” and they flew the flag of social awareness, positivity and the proverbial good, clean fun as rap music began taking on more nihilistic overtones.
In an era when masterpieces were being dropped on an almost weekly basis for several years, De La Soul managed to not only stand out among … More