ESPN Music: De La Soul

Mason: Passing the torch to No. 21

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
11:20
AM ET
Chris Davis leads Auburn to victory over AlabamaAP Photo/Dave MartinTre Mason, No. 21, looks on in awe as Chris Davis scores the winning touchdown.
Somewhat forgotten in the afterglow of Auburn's last-second victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl thanks to a 100-yard missed field goal return, was the play of junior running back Tre Mason who rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown.

One person, nine rows away from the field throughout the game, won't have a problem remembering his contributions: Vincent Mason, AKA DJ Maseo of De La Soul, AKA Tre's dad.

We caught up with Vincent at home in Miami to talk about watching his son play in what many are calling the greatest college football game of all time and juggling his busy schedule to see the season play out.

What was going through your mind sitting in the stands watching Tre in that game?
To see him perform on that level was just amazing. He's been obsessed with football since he was 8 or 9 years old. I've seen him do some amazing things throughout his junior high and high school years. But to see him on this Division I level, playing with the best of the best around the nation, is amazing. He is out there making history if you want to look at it like that. It's surreal to know he is my kid. I'm just really really happy for him. I've been living my dream since I was 19 and I know all the hard work that went into it and I've watched him put in the same work.

What did he say when you caught up to him after the game?
After the game he was just so happy. So, so happy. "We did it! We did it! We did it!" was all he kept saying. Then it was "I'm in pain though!"

Will you be at the SEC championship game in Atlanta? Is it hard trying to juggle your busy schedule with his?
Yes, I'm going. I've been making some switches in my schedule. Art Basel is going on right now in Miami so I'm doing a lot of shows for that. It's the hardest thing trying to juggle my life with his. Sports and entertainment happen on the same timeframe, but this is what I have to do to support my family. I've been out of the country a lot during this season and trying to catch the games on TV or see highlights on YouTube. I'm trying to keep January 6 open as well - like, really, really trying - in case they get to the championship game.

But it's worth it, right?
Oh yes. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to be a part of this as a dad.

[+] EnlargeVincent Mason
Scott Sharpe/Getty ImagesVincent Mason is more than happy to see his son take over the spotlight.
If they do get to that championship game, is your phone going to blow up with everyone in the hip-hop community asking for tickets?
Man, I've been hearing from everyone since the season started. It's funny, it's not something that comes up in normal conversation. How do you say, "My son is No. 21!" That's so braggadocious it's beyond hip-hop! So for them to be finding out because of how well he is doing is really exciting. We're all sharing the moment together.

Did you ever have dreams of being an athlete or was it always music for you?
As a boy coming up you always fancy yourself an athlete. I played a little basketball. As far as football, it wasn't a major interest. But I did get talked into it my senior year of high school. I didn't know much about the sport, I just played around the neighborhood. My passion has always been the music. I was DJing at 6 years old!

Do you think athletes have it better than musicians?
An athlete has the better life of course. They get treated so well. It's crazy! Back in the day our treatment always flucuated based on the sales of our albums!

Are you surprised at all by how passionate football fans are in Alabama?
It's the same way in Florida. They take it as a religion here as well. People come from counties all over to watch high school games like its a NFL game. They don't even know the kids. They just come to watch high school football. It's packed like a college or NFL game. It's amazing to see. I'm from up North and they take basketball the same way. So I get it.

Let's go back to 1989 for a second. You guys delivered your seminal debut album "3 Feet High and Rising," and a few months later follow-up albums appeared from Beastie Boys, EPMD and Jungle Brothers. It was a pretty epic year for hip-hop. What do you remember about that time?
It was a major turning point in everyone's lives. It was a turning point for hip-hop. It finally was a force to be reckoned with. Still unregarded as an art form, but a force with the amount of business it was doing. It was an instrumental point in my life when I was considering going to the military. But then we put out the single "Jenifa (Taught Me)/Potholes In My Lawn" and then the label wanted a video for "Potholes" and then that turned into an option for an album. Everything was happening so fast so I skipped the rest of my high school senior year to cut the record and went back and graduated in 1989 instead of '88.

Awhile back we talked to Tech N9ne. He skipped his high school graduation to perform!
I failed my true last year of high school with all the stuff I was doing! It was crazy going from studio to studio and then trying to go to class. When the record began to take off Russell Simmons had to come to my school and meet with the teachers to work out a plan for me to do my work from the road!

So it's safe to say Tre is more book smart than you?
No doubt. He has both his parents on his back. I didn't have that!

What do you think the future holds for Tre?
It looks like the NFL could be in his future, but you never know what God has in store. He could get hurt. You never know. We just try to take it one game at a time. He feels at home with Auburn, the same as he did in high school. His performances come from that comfort and the friends and coaches he has around him. Tre is a people person, just like his mom and dad. If you don't like Tre, something is wrong with you. I'm happy to know my kid is a cool kid. Once he is under that pressure of making that decision, it will be a hard one. Parting is always bittersweet.
First ServeFirst ServeDave, center, and Posdnuous of De La Soul created "First Serve" with two French producers.
Influential hip-hop group De La Soul made a name for itself with clever wordplay and a storytelling vibe that's uncommon in today's music scene.

Two-thirds of the group, Posdnuous (aka Plug 1) and Dave (Plug 2) and, have returned on the album "De La Soul's Plug 1 & Plug 2 present First Serve." The product is a concept album about two young rappers struggling to make their way up, then hitting the big time, and the resulting drama that comes along with fame.

The tennis theme of the album's name is a reference to the back-and-forth between the two characters, Deen Whitter and Jacob "Pop Life" Barrow.

"I love watching tennis," Dave said. "[The title] is a lyrical thing, wordplay. It's the perfect match. The falling in love and out of love relationship between the two guys. It refers to a tennis vibe."

De La's fans have been clamoring for a new album for years, as the trio's last studio album was recorded in 2004. Interestingly enough, this one came about because of a pair of French producers named Chokolate and Khalid, who wanted to make some music and work with Pos and Dave on the lyrics.

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