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The 11th Hour Striketh-An Interview w/ Del
by Davey D
We sat down and spoke with Oakland legend and Hiero frontman Del tha Funky Homosapien. He just released a new album called ‘The 11th Hour’ as the collective just celebrated its 10 year anniversary.
Del noted that he's ambivalent and that he doesn't really pay too much attention to anniversaries although he does appreciate all the fanfare being made about the group being around for so long.
"Actually we been around longer", Del notes.
He then walks us through his long career which goes back to 1991 when he hooked up with Sir Jinx of Da Lench Mob. He talks about how Jinx was connected to his cousin Ice Cube's original group CIA. He also talked about being a rapper in high school here in 'Tha town'-Oakland.
Del went on to talk about how Hiero eventually formed. He noted that the collective formed with him A Plus and Taje who were in a group called Rhythm and Excellence which later became known as Souls of Mischief. A few years latewr they adapted the name Hieroglyphics.
Del spoke to us about how and why he studied music theory and how it made him a better emcee and and song writer. He talked about his love of funk music as defined by Parliament/ Funkadelic and the long relationship Hip Hop especially out here on the West Coast has had with that genre.
Del also talked to us about his relationship with his cousin Ice Cube and how he was given his first shot by his famous cousin. He later went on to pen some of the lyrics to Cube’s biggest hits including ‘Gangsta Fairytale’ and ‘Who’s The Mack?’. He later wrote songs for Yo Yo.
Del revealed that early on his career there were so called Hip Hop purists who hated on him and claimed that the music he was doing both on his own album ‘I Wish My brother George Were Here’ and with Cube was NOT real Hip Hop. He rebelled and moved in another direction. Its something he regrets because he eventually realized that Hip Hop was not this big fraternity or family the way people made it out to be. He noted that many who talked out and tried to define were full of contradictions and at the end of the day, it was not about trying to appease other 'Hip Hoppers' but to appease his audience and fans. Del concluded that he had focused far too long on being technical i.e. being a dope lyricist and not being a good artist who connects with people.
Del talked about the fervent fan base that he and the mighty Hiero Crew has and got his take as to why they can routinely sell out shows, sell lots of albums, yet not recieve any commercial airplay. This topic was the subject of a recent cover story here in the Bay Area in the SF Weekly. Del drops some serious science onto that phenomenon. He says he wants to change that practice and move things to another level.
Del gave us the real scoop behind the hit song ‘Clint Eastwood’ which he rapped on with the group the Gorillaz. Apparently Del was not supposed to be the original rapper for that project. Producer and long time friend Dan the Automator wasn’t feeling the first rapper and turned to Del who happen to be in the studio that night. Unbekwonst to Dan, Del had recently purchased a book called ‘How to Write a Hit Song’. The purchase was supposed to be a joke but Del soon discovered the book had lots of game that he was able to apply to the Gorillaz track which went on to be nominated for a Grammy.
We concluded our interview by talking about the art of battling and who is the best emcee amongst the Hieros. We also went into great detail about the infamous battle between Hiero and Hobo Junction. del explains why he didn’t show up that night on the Wake Up Show and the conflict he was having in trying to calm things down.
Del ended our interview by talking about how he would love to do a song with hometwon heroes Too Short and E-40.
You can peep the Del Interview on Breakdown FM by clicking here