Posdnuos (Kelvin Mercer) and Maseo (Vincent Mason) of De La Soul teamed up with The Roots last week on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for an emotional live performance of “Stakes Is High”, the J Dilla-produced title track from the beloved hip-hop trio’s 1996 album.

The Tonight Show appearance came during a time of both triumph and tragedy for De La. While the March 3rd release of the group’s recorded catalog on streaming services for the first time was a notable victory after years of delays, it came just weeks after the sudden passing of the trio’s third memberDave Jolicoeur, better known as Trugoy the Dove, in February.

Related: De La Soul’s Trugoy The Dove, Who Helped Bring A Positive Spin To Hip-Hop, Dead At 54

For the live rendition of “Stakes Is High” on Fallon, The Roots rapper Black Thought took over Dave’s verses, putting his own touch on the words but remaining reverent to the rhymes and flows Plug Two recorded back in 1996. With Maseo scratching behind the decks and Questlove playing a drum kit emblazoned with De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising album artwork, Black Thought and Posdnuos wove in and out of the thought-provoking verses with style and swagger.

During Pos’s last verse, the lights came down and the beat cut out, leaving the rapper alone under a somber spotlight to deliver the final, pensive bars to chill-inducing effect. After one more cathartic chorus, an image of a young Trugoy the Dove faded in on the screen and a recorded snippet of Dave discussing De La Soul’s legacy rang out through the PA, tying a weighty bow on the performance. “Thank you, Dave,” Plug Three offered from the shadows.

In the wake of the performance, Questlove took to Instagram to attempt to put into words how meaningful the collaboration was to him and The Roots. In the caption of a post containing the performance video, the drummer explained, “You are watching a 16 yr old art major & his 18 yr old best friend from high school travel 34 years into the future. … De La Soul bonded us. Solidified us. Inspired us to pursue our dream. … I can’t think of a better moment in celebrating this institution for these high school nerds than this moment right now.”

He continued, “I’ve checked many a bucketlist artist in our 14 years here….but this one took everything in me to stand strong and celebrate the passing of Dave [Jolicoeur]……watching it on tv? I cried like a baby. This might be possibly one of my favorite moments doing what I love to do with the people I love doing my art with alongside the people who inspired me to go the creative path that I’m still fortunate to do since my high school days. … Eternal gratitude to the universe for this dream manifesting.”

Questlove ended the post by quoting himself talking to Black Thought, his own high school buddy with whom he chased down big music dreams thanks to inspirations like De La Soul and Dilla: “Well Tariq we just rocked on the Tonight Show w De La Soul to a song helmed by J Dilla….”

Watch The Roots and De La Soul perform “Stakes Is High” with The Roots on The Tonight Show below and scroll down to check out Posdnuos and Pasemaster Mase’s chat with Jimmy Fallon talk about losing Dave, what they remember from recording their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, and their long-awaited streaming victory. De La Soul’s first six albums are now available to stream on major listening platforms.

De La Soul, The Roots – “Stakes Is High” – The Tonight Show

De La Soul Interview – The Tonight Show