Long Island hip-hop icons De La Soul appear as themselves in the newest episode of Cartoon Network's superhero series "Teen Titans Go!," in an allegorical story of the group's royalties battle with its former music label.
"Really had fun making this episode," the trio said on its Instagram account Friday, the day before the animated "Don't Press Play" aired. The title comes from the group's rallying cry to boycott Tommy Boy Records, which owns much of De La Soul's music and, says the band, will only release their back catalog to streaming for an inequitable 90/10 royalty split in the label's favor.
Tommy Boy Records did not respond to a detailed Newsday request for comment.
The 12-minute episode, written by Steve Borst and directed by Peter Rida Michail, opens with Robin (voice of Scott Menville) noting that a crime alert is "coming from Amityville." After Cyborg (Khary Payton) confuses that with the fictional Amity Island from the movie "Jaws," Robin clarifies, "Amityville, Long Island."
The heroic quintet learns a tentacled monster is attacking the music studios of De La Soul. Robin explains to Starfire (Hynden Walch), "De La Soul is one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time!" Adds Raven (Tara Strong), "Their importance to hip-hop music and the culture cannot be overstated."
In Amityville, they find superpowered versions of De La Soul, voicing themselves: Dave (David Jude Jolicoeur aka Trugoy the Dove), Maseo (Vincent Mason aka Pasemaster Mase aka DJ Maseo) and, "as himself," Plug One (Kelvin Mercer aka Posdnuos). "Your music is mine now!" bellows the monster, sucking up energy-filled musical notes. Plug One, aghast, exclaims, "It must be collecting our sweet music royalties!" Robin explains to Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) and viewers what that means.
Together they find the monster "transmitting live from Mars" — a De La Soul song title — and a showdown on that planet provides other musical allusions. Cyborg says of an aquatic trap, "The water is three feet high! And rising!" — a reference to De La Soul's 1989 platinum debut album, "3 Feet High and Rising." De La Soul themselves activate their power of "buhloone mindstate" — the title of their third album. And at one point they fire a "bionix beam" — as in their 2001 album "AOI: Bionix."
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The Grammy Award-winning De La Soul, who are not yet in the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, formed as teens in Amityville. They threw rap-battle parties at a Dixon Avenue room they called The Dugout, and coalesced as an innovative force in hip-hop, eschewing old-school gangsta aesthetics for work that melded genres from soul to psychedelia.
One of the first notable groups to sample from other artists' music, De La Soul figured in a landmark lawsuit with the band the Turtles — an animal seen in the episode's opening — that paved the way for formally licensing samples.