Gorillaz Wanted De La Soul on “Kids with Guns” Before “Feel Good Inc.”
De La Soul have been close collaborators with Gorillaz dating back to their appearance on the 2005 hit “Feel Good Inc.,” but it turns out they were originally supposed to guest on a completely different song. During a recent episode of Kyle Meredith With…, De La Soul co-founder Maseo revealed that Damon Albarn initially suggested they appear on a different Demon Days single: “Kids with Guns.”
“When we went to do ‘Feel Good Inc.’, the initial song was ‘Kids with Guns,’” Maseo recalls. “When we were having a conversation about ‘Kids with Guns,’ I honestly came out and said, ‘Hey man, I think we forcing it.’ I said, ‘I don’t think this is the record. I think we’re not really collaborating, we’re just featuring on the record. It’s like Gorillaz featuring De La. We really need to do like a collaboration, where we both artistically show our flavor.’ And sure enough, after a lot of weed and tequila, ‘Feel Good Inc.’ came up.”
Maseo added that late member Trugoy the Dove’s verse was a nod to “I Wanna Rock (Doo Doo Brown)” by Luke. “Dave’s rhyme on the song is a spoof of ‘Doo Doo Brown’ by Luke Skywalker,” he explains. “If you really listen, some of the cadence, the rhyme pattern, and some of the lines — the ‘Don’t stop, get it, get it’ — that’s a little bit of Luke Skywalker’s ‘Doo Doo Brown.’”
“Kids with Guns” ended up featuring Neneh Cherry and was released as a two-part single with “El Mañana.” Though the track was a hit in the UK, it didn’t nearly match the heights of “Feel Good Inc.,” which was a worldwide smash and remains one of Gorillaz’s signature hits.
Elsewhere in the interview, Maseo broke down why De La Soul and Albarn have such good in-studio chemistry. “He’s truly out there for artistic value, and I got a lot of love for that,” he says, before going into their creative process. “No idea is a bad idea until we try it — all egos are checked at the door. Everybody is doing their best to make a great song. He hears people on songs like instruments. Everybody’s vocal technically is an instrument, and that’s how he hears the track.”
Maseo also revealed that De La Soul have a deep personal relationship with Albarn outside of music. “We are family with Damon,” he says. “I’ve spent time with his wife and children right in his home. This a relationship that the universe put right in our lap. I think that’s one of those many blessings that have come from the hard work we put in and to be requested by him and then to ultimately be inducted into his family because he just feels there’s an energy that he’s a part of.”
In the spirit of that “brotherhood,” Albarn mourned the loss of Trugoy the Dove by sharing an instrumental clip on Instagram. Gorillaz also honored the late rapper by sharing a photo with the caption, “Our brother, we love you.”
Since a night of “tequila and a little smoke” set the stage for one of the biggest songs of the 2000s, De La have appeared on a handful of other Gorillaz tracks: the Plastic Beach cut “Superfast Jellyfish,” “Momentz” from 2017’s Humanz, and “Crocadillaz,” which appears on the deluxe version of Gorillaz’s last album, Cracker Island.
Up next for De La Soul is their next album, AOI 3, which is “definitely happening,” as Maseo told Meredith. “It’s going to be the very next thing. That’s a responsibility that we have to our fans — a responsibility we even have to ourselves — with completing that trilogy.”