Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Smart, funny Hip Hop from Del tha Funkee Homosapien

It’s true what they say: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Teren Delvon Jones is a cousin of Rap legend Ice Cube. He started out writing lyrics for Da Lench Mob and managed to have Ice Cube produce his solo album, I Wish My Brother George Was Here, in 1991 — when he was just 18 — under the name Del tha Funkee Homosapien. I’m not saying he didn’t deserve it. I’m just saying there are a lot of talented MCs out there who don’t get a shot like that.

He founded his own crew in Oakland, CA, Hieroglyphics, and produced his next album himself. From the sound of things, he then didn’t record for the next 5 years, did a lot of drugs, and had a nasty split with Elektra Records. After that, he has released a couple solo efforts and worked more with Hieroglyphics.

If you weren’t into the California rap scene in the ’90’s and don’t know anything about Hieroglyphics, you might still be familiar with him because he rapped on the Gorillaz hit Clint Eastwood,  which peaked at number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 (on September 11, 2001) but was a top 10 hit in 15 other countries, including #4 in the U.K.

He's good at repairs and he's under each snare.

He's good at repairs and he's under each snare.

In 2006, he released another solo effort, Eleventh Hour. I will say that I find some of the songs on this disc to be frankly uninspired. The disappointing tracks don’t break any new ground in terms of sampling or instrumentation. However, Del himself is a smart and funny MC and when he does build grooves with interesting loops and vocals, the tracks are compelling. His flow is smooth and I found myself laughing out loud a few times at some of the ideas he expresses.

I have ripped 5 tracks to my iPod. I hope you like them too.

  • Raw Sewage – Gotta say, you don’t hear many guys rapping about raw sewage. Not many at all. That’s not actually the subject, but it gets your attention as track 1 on the disc. The familiar elements are all here. Horns, scratching, steady johhny-beat. Still, it’s a head-bobber and his flow is unusual.
  • Bubble Pop – “Why do you think you are all that? Cos you ain’t!” He builds this rap around ringing percussion and a crazy, bouncing, atonal chord. It’s an another quirky groove with funny lyrics. The commenters under this track on YouTube are mostly haters. I like this, though, because it makes me grin doesn’t sound like 90% of the other stuff that’s released.
  • Funkyhomosapien – This is a busy track. The groove is basically just horns and percussion, but they have a lot of layered vocal excerpts playing in the background. As I listen to this again, I think the main thing I like about a lot of these tracks is Del’s witty flow.
  • Hold Your Hand – Not exactly a love song. Del doesn’t want to hold your hand. Again, the flow of the verses is great and the weird, slowed-down of the chorus is kind of funky. Weird enough to be different, but inside enough to appeal.
  • Slam Dunk – It’s a simple keyboard and electronic percussion groove, but I like the rap and the sampled sound effects they layer in around it. Oddly, this track isn’t on YouTube and it isn’t included among the tracks on Amazon, even though it’s on my copy. If you like it, I hope you can find it.

Here’s a funny side note. In an interview with The Wave Magazine, Del was asked about the Gorillaz hit “Clint Eastwood.” He said, “It’s funny. That’s what I wrote after really learning about music theory. My mom got me a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble so I bought this book called How to Write a Hit Song. I bought it as a joke but half serious in the ‘see what it can show me’ sort of way. The first page said you had to be original to keep people’s attention. And from there I started studying music theory. And that was the first song that I used what I had learned from studying all this music theory and it went platinum. So when I got the platinum plaque, I gave it to my mom.”

Gotta go. I’m off to the book store.

http://www.hieroglyphics.com/

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July 13, 2009 - Posted by | Hip Hop

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