Better Funk Through Technology: Del the Funky Homosapien

Popular rap music these days is full of artists that glorify their street lifestyle, sport diamonds in their teeth, and wear bulletproof vests. They also drive around in bomb-proof cars with hydros and sing about drugs, sex, and crime. There are still some rappers, however, that take a more low-key approach and seem to enjoy the process of producing and recording a bit more than they do playing the thug-life role. One such artist is Del the Funky Homosapien.
Del the Funky Homosapien pic #1
Hailing from California's Bay Area, Del has been making music since the '80s. He started out with a San Francisco area collective posse known as Hieroglyphics, who have gone on to become one of the most popular underground rap groups and even started their own record label. Since then, he's released a number of solo albums and been involved in many collaborations, the most well-known with producer Dan "the Automator" Nakamura on their Deltron 3030 release and Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett's Gorillaz.
Most recently, Del released a DVD entitled The 11th Hour, which includes some concert footage, a boatload of interviews and videos of him messing around in his home studio. Read on to learn more about Del's influences, favorite music and upcoming projects.
Del the Funky Homosapien plays Saturday, October 7th at Warehouse Live (813 St. Emanuel Street, Houston, TX. 77003), along with Mike Relm, Motion Man, and Bukue One.


SCR: Hello, Del! This is Patrick from spacecityrock.com?
Del the Funky Homosapien: Right on. Glad I caught you.
So, how's it going?
Groovyworld. I'm here reading this Wax Poetics that's all focused on P-funk.
What kind of work have you been up to recently?
Doin' it, y'know...studying, recording compositions, trying to holla at the peoples out there, learning the Mac Intel, realizing how great the PC really is for production...
Good for you, staying up on technology.
With ProTools and all, there have been a whole lotta folks out there making their own beats the DIY style.
Oh, but I fucks with Ableton Live -- been doing that since 3.0.
Is it better?
I don't believe in "better," but it is definitely to me easier to fuck with and looks a lot slicker, way easier on the eye. ProTools is the standard, though, and is incredible in its scope...just wouldn't use it to create music, though.
How did you first get involved in the hip-hop scene?
Early on, early '80s with A-Plus and Tajai. Tajai was A-Plus's best friend; I met him thru A-Plus in like 3rd, 4th grade. We also were into computers, too, back then.
Back in the day, when 10 Megs was a big hard drive, eh?
What hard drives? We had big-ass floppies, like paper, damn near.
Besides those two cats, who have been your biggest influences?
George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, James Brown and the J.B.'s were a gigantic influence. I learned funk really directly from the J.B.'s, but rap-wise, The Jungle Bros. definitely was my biggest influence, along with De La [Soul]. More the Jungle Bros. though. I still listen to they albums!
Del the Funky Homosapien record cover

I saw Hieroglyphics in Indianapolis a year ago, but you weren't there...what exactly is your involvement with them?
I'm basically like the kid who you don't see all the time, but when you see me it's all love. I gotta lotta surprises, usually. If you know me, it's not really that surprising, though.
I read somewhere that you were related to Ice Cube. Please describe your relationship with him over the years.
Okay, well...basically, it's my cuz on my mom's side. We basically grew up around each other; he always was like a sort of mentor to me. That's about it -- ain't changed.
It seems like you two have quite different musical styles. What do you think about that?
Not really, really. Actually, we are more similar than most think; that's why we got along a lot. He actually hipped me to more of the deeper P-Funk.
But I mean him with his gangsta-ism...
He was never a gangsta rapper, though. That's the thing. Now, gangstas felt him cause of his commentary, 'cause it was all real shit, but I was not shocked, nor was Plee or Tajai, by none of what he was saying; we from East Oakland. It was just hip-hop of our own personal experience and not NYC.
Del the Funky Homosapien pic #2
I listened to Deltron 3030 earlier today...what was it like working with Dan the Automator?
Great, groovyworld. He know music, so do I, so we always would build on the direction hip-hop could take, on a scientifical level.
Y'all also worked together on Gorillaz. As a matter of fact, Gorillaz was how I first heard of you. How was that?
Well, we were actually finishing 3030, and he was simultaneously doing the Gorillaz thang, so he needed a replacement for this song, the song "Clint Eastwood." Peace to Clint, actually, while I'm there. He whooped a lot of fools in movies I seen growing up, excellent! But it was an accident, me ending up being at the forefront of that. Dan knew I could deliver at the final hour, he needed new lyrics.
I'm from Houston, and the H-Town rap scene has gotten really popular lately. What are your opinions on that scene?
Yo, my pops is from Houston, so the South is all love. You know the hyphy movement out here. A lot of us up here got family in the South.
Who are some of your favorite H-Town rappers?
Is UGK from there? Bun B and Pimp C? That's UGK, Underground Kingz. They my favorite. My folks T.I. I hella enjoy too; he from ATL, I think, though. [I] also love OutKast and Joi.
Y'ever listen to Nappy Roots? They're from Kentucky, of all places.
Yeah! Back in the day. I tend to gravitate to more street stuff, though, honestly.
What do you do for fun when you're not making music?
That's what I do for fun.
Well, then, you've got it made -- doing what you love for both pay and play.
Yes, sir. Otherwise, I couldn't stand it.
You got any cool stuff coming up that we should look out for?
11th Hour, the DVD, uh, instrumental albums, Deltron second event. [I] always try to collab; trying to do some shit with Ladybug Mecca and Joi, specifically...I try to compose a lot.
Well, Del, I'm all outta questions. Do you have anything else to tell before we end this?
Yeah! Everybody support Hiero, 'cause we try to make quality stuff for y'all, y'all make it possible for real.
Well, thanks so much for this opportunity. It was a pleasure chatting with you.
No prob, thank you! Peace. END