De La Soul
De La Soul performs with the Rhythm Roots All Stars on Thursday, July 23, at 9 p.m., $29.50; www.livenation.com.
Even if De La Soul never releases another album — don't worry, the group is reportedly in the studio working on its eighth full-length — these guys will go down in history as one of hip-hop's all-time classic acts. Pioneers since 1987 of what has since been named alt.hop, the Long Island trio of Plugs — Posdnuos, Dave (Trugoy), and Mase — has elevated rap to levels of art-school conceptualism, minus the pretentiousness. They inject quirky, dope flavor into urban pop culture, paving the way for A Tribe Called Quest, Gorillaz, and Kanye West and proving that sometimes it's better to be complicated than hard.