With De La Soul’s masterful catalog finally hitting streaming, Dan Charnas takes aim at the outmoded thinking that doomed the rap trio to digital purgatory. Throw on Buhloone Mindstate and enjoy.

The alternative to action is the chilling effect we are seeing right now, not only on sampling but on song creation itself. Some artists seek permission for the slightest of quotations or interpolations lest they leave themselves open to a claim. Other artists second-guess their work and squelch their impulses lest the natural and organic manifestations of their influences be seen as infringement. As I wrote in my book about J Dilla last year, even that great hip-hop producer—considered by some to be the paragon of sampled music production, and whose drum machine is on display in the Smithsonian—for a time abandoned the artform he mastered because of the legal and financial risks. Meanwhile, parasitic “sample trolls” snap up publishing and recording rights to songs often for the express purpose of suing other artists who have interpolated their music.