De La Soul‘s streaming woes are well-documented at this point, but now that the crew has landed a soundtrack placement on the biggest movie of the year, new fans are finding themselves frustrated to learn that the pioneer trio’s catalog is unavailable on DSP. The crew’s 3 Feet High And Rising song “The Magic Number” appears over the end credits of Spider-Man: No Way Home, undoubtedly sending many of the film’s viewers to Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal only to discover that the only two De La Soul albums available are The Grind Date and The Anonymous Nobody.
And while both albums are worth several spins, most of De La’s most recognizable work comes from earlier in their career, when they were still under contract with Tommy Boy Entertainment. The trouble with streaming the albums stems from their extensive sample use; over the course of their six projects under Tommy Boy, the band used hundreds of samples of prior works — 3 Feet High And Rising contains 60 samples by itself. While Tommy Boy cleared most of those samples, the contracts only covered physical releases, the only method for releasing music through the ’80s and ’90s. With the advent of streaming, the label considers the albums open to a plethora of potential lawsuits and not worth the hassle of uploading.
The band themselves have offered to take on the intricate work of clearing all the samples backed by an army of volunteers who just want to be able to stream the albums they love, only to get rebutted by Tommy Boy. Earlier this year, De La Soul apparently won back their master recordings after Reservoir Media acquired Tommy Boy for around $100 million, but now comes the nitty-gritty work of actually clearing all those samples, which could take some time considering the age of the records and the labyrinthine nature of copyright law. While the appearance of “The Magic Number” on Spider-Man’s soundtrack could be a promising sign that at least the work has begun (the song mainly samples Bob Dorough’s “Three Is a Magic Number”), all those new fans will have to join the grizzled vets in waiting impatiently for that work to be completed to stream De La’s greatest hits.