Del the Funky Homosapien Interview
Del the Funky Homosapien: Broadcasting Live from Planet Hella
by Gentle Jones
Before Del the Funky Homosapien debuted as a solo artist he ghostwrote for N.W.A.'s ace writer, his cousin Ice Cube, who put him to work on Amerikkka's Most Wanted, Cube's own first solo outing. Surrounding himself with brilliance even as a teenager, Del's debut album was well received. But it was his second album, No Need for Alarm, which established him as the spearhead of a modern hip-hop movement located in Oakland with his Hieroglyphics crew, where they cultivated an original sound while experimenting with various distribution structures. Firmly independent, Del has succeeded in many incarnations, whether he is in the mainstream as a cartoon character in Gorillaz, or underground with musings of a futurist pugilist, Deltron 3030. Del has released his latest self-produced solo album, 11th Hour, on Definitive Juxtaposition, courtesy of El Producto. He's left crazy broads and heavy drugs behind him while building a homespun digital arsenal similar to other fellow Handsome Boy Modeling School alumni. Currently out supporting his album, the rapper who will never turn actor says his Hiero crew will be dropping a surprise new album with Prince Paul next.
Gentle Jones: What are you working on, man?
Del the Funky Homosapien: I'm doing a little bit of promotion right now. We are working on a new Hieroglyphics album right now. It’s pretty much done. We didn't choose a title yet cause fools is picky. Also, me and El-P is trying to do an e.p. called Del-P. The song Offspring was the first time we worked together and I've been knowing him for years since then. That was a big reason why I want to go to Defjux. If it was another company I might not wanted to do it. But since its Defjux, I respect his hustle.
GJ: What does Defjux have to offer you, Del? You are already a star.
Del: This fool said I'm a star. When the last time you checked? I am not no star, dude. What they are offering me is that I can even talk to you right now. This would not be popping off if it wasn't for Defjux.
GJ: I have to ask, did you really date Jerry Garcia's daughter?
Del: Yup, Trixie Garcia, she was cool. In the late 90s, we kicked if for a while. I still consider her one of my good friends.
GJ: There was a story that you saved some girls life?
Del: (Laughs) Sort of. This ho that I was fucking with, bitch tried to hang herself in my garage and shit. Twice. I had to cut her down. This was a ho. She had deep disturbing mental problems. Like she be wyling out, blacking out doing all kind of crazy ho shit. So I guess she got to the point that she couldn't stand herself no more and decided to just kill herself. In my house.
GJ: So what do you attract crazy women?
Del: Man, shit I don't know. I guess I kind of like them kind of crazy but now that was kind of too crazy.
GJ: How did you approach 11th Hour different from Both Sides of the Brain?
Del: My main theme was to keep it funky. Keep the attitude funky, keep the music funky. I wanted to have some hip-hop feel to it too. Lyrically, I wanted to make some shit that the average person could feel like they could love hip-hop again. I feel like fools just started getting hella complex and technical and people couldn't feel us. The way I tried to do it, I didn't try to make it to where you know "I got a club song", "I got this song" like that. I tried to make everything overall like if you wanted to get into it you could. And if you want to get deeper into it you can get deeper into it.
GJ: What is it about your new flow that you are trying to get across?
Del: I am a lot more direct with what I got to say. At a certain point it just occurred to me that if you're so smart how come you can't say something in a way that I can understand it? Once I thought about that I started spitting in a way that there wasn't no extravagant effort to get into the shit. I felt like I was doing too much. I took heed and was like let me pump my brakes a little bit and let you know what’s really on my mind. That wordplay shit is played out, everybody can do that. That's the whole underground shit. I was like, what's going to separate you? I tend to look at things different then the average person. I think that's my gift and I try to put that in my raps.
GJ: Before you recorded your first album with Ice Cube what did you do?
Del: He had me writing before I started recording. I did Gangsta's Fairy Tale, Who's the Mack, I wrote a lot of Yo-yo's shit on her first album. Just to kind of get my feet wet and get a taste of what it takes to get into the business. I appreciated that chance to just soak my toes real quick.
GJ: Was At the Helm about Ice Cube?
Del: Nah, who told you that?
GJ: The internets.
Del: Oh hell nah, that was just a typical situation, if you grow up in an urban community you come across these situations. That's the type of shit I usually rap about. I don't rap about it from a glorifying point of view. Some of these rappers try to make it seem like if you pushing keys of coke or whatever you just the man and you never get caught, never get popped. I'm not like that, I try to show the consequences of what happens when you want to be a fool out here. A lot of my songs is like that.
GJ: How did being in the Plan B "Questionable" soundtrack impact your career?
Del: It did a little something. I went to school with skateboarders, they was my homies. We were all the outcasts, the rockers, the skaters, the stoners, we was like the losers to everybody. Now you could buy a house and be breaded out just skateboarding. Your sponsors could be so ridiculous you actually fucking eat off skateboarding. Fools didn't know that back then. Same thing with rap.
GJ: Did Gorillaz bring fans to your Del projects?
Del: A lot of people who heard Gorillaz off the radio, they knew that was me. It introduced a lot of people to me. Of course it helped, Gorillaz been paying and feeding me for the last few years, straight up.
GJ: Let's talk about your role as Kid #1 in Dr. Dre and Ed Lover's movie "Who's the Man?"
Del: (Laughs) It was weak, my part was hella weak. It was so butt they cut it out the real movie, you might of seen it on HBO but you didn't see it on the real movie. It was hella butt.
GJ: Is hyphy dead yet?
Del: It's still around but it was kind of a trend and fools didn't really capitalize off of it. E-40 came out and pimped the situation with My Ghetto Report Card and that album was hella dope but after that... I ain't mad at it. That's the sound of kids today. But one thing I don't necessarily like is that rapping about drugs and shit and little ass kids is influenced by that shit, thinking they can just be popping thizz and doing all this crazy shit, I don't really recommend that for kids. Anything else, I'm down with the movement, but that's the one thing that is kind of fucked up about the shit. I ain't no prude, I get fucked up sometimes but I would never suggest it to somebody, or try to encourage anybody to do what I do. I'm just one of the motherfuckers that can deal with it. Drugs is bad. You do that shit and you might not come back. I've seen motherfuckers thizz and die. I definitely won't be advocating the shit. There was a time when I was hella high but mostly nowadays I try to stay sober. I'm a grown man, I drink sometimes, but moderately. I got a lot of work to do so I'm not trying to be hella fucked up. I'm older with more responsibilities, I got to take care of my mom and my girl, you know.
GJ: How has it been going back and educating yourself musically?
Del: I listen to my elders, they impart a lot of wisdom on you. That's one thing that made me want to learn music theory. I didn't want to disgrace fools. Like, ok sampling's cool, but I wanted to learn from the dudes I was sampling from, like if I wanted to sample from George Duke I would rather listen to his performance and try to absorb that and infuse it into my music. And I'm not saying playing it over, I'm saying learn what he did and the techniques that I liked so much about that song and put it into my everyday lexicon of what I use to make music.
The main things I had to learn was like being able to harmonize scales, being able to build chords. Basic musical tools I didn't know at first. One that really shocked me is that you don't have to just go up the keyboard. You don't have to go from C up to the next C, you can go below you, too. That opened up a whole new realm of possibilities, like you can go downwards too? Down to the lower C? I was like, aw giggety, because you know in music school they teach you to just go up the scales like "go up, go up" and you just brainwashed and you start to think that is the way you got to do it. But in actuality a lot of melodies don't even go like that. Everything, all the notes revolve around the key like planets. Once I learned that I was like OK now I can freak it a little. And when I found out that you don't have to learn the whole keyboard, there's only seven notes I must of fainted damn near, and I felt so stupid. I thought I had to learn all 88 keys! Now I got great connects and phenomenal equipment. That's what I fuck around with, arrange shit.
I record in my crib, like fuck this shit, dude. I made the whole album in my crib. I didn't mix it there, but I recorded the whole shit at my house. This is the future. Once I did "Magnetizing" for Handsome Boy Modeling school with Price Paul and I seen him with that digital 8 track Akai recorder I was like 'Damn we about to really record the real song here?' and he was like 'Yeah' and after that moment I was like as soon as I get some money I am buying this shit and I am never stepping into a fucking studio again. Prince Paul influenced me on that shit. He got his own recording facilities at this point. He just produced Souls of Mischief new album. They had me do some stuff for it and I would just send him the vocals though the email. Just do it in the house, I have a good mic. The album is about to come out though, I think Prince Paul is still kind of fiddling with it. I don't think I'm even supposed to tell you that, I think it was going to be a surprise.
GJ: What happened with Smash Bros?
Del: Casual is grown and he's got a lot of responsibilities, he got 4 kids, I hollered at him and told him we need to do that, but I recognize that he's a grown man. It ain't as easy to just hook up like when we was kids. By the way, you know the new Smash Brothers game is out now and I got to go get that and Destroy All Humans. You know I fuck with music all day but sometimes on my Mac I fuck with Mame the emulator and just fuck with all the old school Neo Geo games and all that shit.
GJ: How do you feel illegal downloading has affected the industry?
Del: I'll put it like this, Janet Jackson been out online if I wanted to download it, I could have. Snoop Dog album I seen it out there for at least the last month. It’s a different playing field; you got to appeal to people like, you really want to see me win. It's more like a mind share. I'm trying to stay away from being hella abstract and be more concrete as far as Del the Funkee Homosapien is concerned. Being more personal.
GJ: What about on the abstract tip, is there a new Deltron sequel in the works?
Del: Yeah, I been writing like 160, 170 bars. This time it’s more like Mad Max, all y'all motherfuckers just fucked up the Earth. Like, let's see what really go down when motherfuckers just fuck everything off and you ain't got all the luxuries that we got now. It's still going to be futuristic, but it’s going to be a more bleak future than what maybe you're used to. The production is finished, Automator and Kid Koala is finished, I just got to write the fucking raps.
GJ: Are you recording that at home?
Del: You know Automator, he's going to want to be there. His style is he wants to be involved with it, that human involvement, me I don't really need that. On the first Deltron all I had at first was freestyles and he was like 'ok you got enough freestyles you need more shit with content, so lets do something about an intergalactic space battle'. I was like ok, did that. He had other ideas, he was like, 'Now rap about this'. The Madness song that was completely his idea. It was a challenge, I probably just rather sit up and write freestyle raps because it’s easy for me. But as a professional you should be able to... if motherfuckers say 'ok rap about corn syrup' you should be able to do it. A lot of the time Dan and I would just be in the studio talking about theory and how to make hip-hop better in the future and then the recording process might be very short. We did Deltron 3030 in like two weeks, we did it mad quick. He let me do my thing, he wasn't complaining about how I do my vocals. We did hella one-takes, damn near every one of them was one takes.
On 11th hour I was a perfectionist I would hear the shit at the house by myself, recording and listen back and just do it over, I might record and do the shit over like a month later, like, I can't let that go in my history books, if I was hearing something that bugged me.
GJ: Do you think Defjux could have mainstream appeal?
Del: It's all about how you present it to people. I seen some of the craziest acts go plat. Outkast, for example, every album they do better than the last one and they get weirder and weirder. To the point that you damn near can't categorize them as Hip-hop at all. I talked to Cube and he was like "Those niggas ain't really hip-hop" I was like nigga what is you talking about? You know, they more, like they surpassed hip-hop. I have a whole other project where I just do the dance shit. It’s called Broken Glass, I have about three albums of just funky instrumental up tempo dance shit, it’s all new, it ain't out yet.
My new album is out. All the peoples out there who want some real hip-hop, something satisfying, then fool with your boy, I made it for y'all. So go on and get it.