Friday, April 15, 2011

An EXCLUSIVE interview with DEL THE FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN!



By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

     In the world of Hip Hop, you are either in or you are out: there is no middle ground. Artists that were once held in high esteem can have their audience turn against them at a moment’s notice. The music itself is constantly evolving and changing and so are the tastes of the Hip Hop fans. If an artist can hold the attention of the press and public for 5 years, they are survivors. If they can do it for 10 years, it’s a miracle.But what about the rare artist that can continue to excite the fickle Hip Hop audience for 20 years? Well, those artists should be classified as a ‘superstar’!
     While Del The Funky Homosapien may not shift the same amount of units as Eminem, Lil Wayne and the like, he most certainly is a ‘superstar’. From his days in Da Lench Mob, backing his cousin Ice Cube, to his ground-breaking recordings with Hieroglyphics, Deltron 3030, Gorillaz and, of course, his solo work, Del has remained one of the funkiest, forward-thinking artists on the Hip Hop scene. He is one of the few MCs that can successfully reach back for inspiration while continuing to look forward in search of innovation. His albums are both classic and fresh at the same time, a rare feat in any genre.
     With his latest platter, Golden Era, Del has released the funkiest Hip Hop album you’ll hear all year. The single, “One Out Of A Million”, has already raised the roof at Urban radio and is a sure-fire bet to crossover to the Alternative and Rock stations. As an added bonus to the album, Del has added not one but TWO more albums that were previously available only on the ‘net: Funk Man and Automatik Statik.
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to catch up with Del to discuss the new album and his career up to this point…

SPAZ: Your new album, Golden Era, is just about to drop. How are you feeling about the album and your career up to this point?
DEL THE FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN: Man, I’m feeling pretty good about it. As you know, I took a lot of personal time off between 2000 after Deltron 3030 and Both Sides dropped and 2008 when Eleventh Hour dropped, studying music theory and shit and I lost trust and respect from a lot of my fans for not putting stuff out. I really just been tryin’ to gain that shit back and interact with the people and put out music that they can funk to, give away as much free stuff, shows and music as possible. I feel like they showing me love and I’m gaining that respect back… so I’m happy with where things are at.

SPAZ: The album stands as a cohesive piece of work in its own right. At this point, are you concerned about hit singles or is it more about getting people to listen to the album as a whole?
DEL: I make music to make music, not to sell records, so I don’t trip on shit like that. I just do me and if people feel it then that’s what’s up… and if not, all good. The first single the label released off the new joint has been getting solid feedback and people are diggin’ it, though, so I feel good about it.

SPAZ: Golden Era, like your past work, has its roots in Funk music and classic Jazz as well. Do you feel that a lot of modern Hip Hop lacks the true Funk and Jazz vibes that your albums convey so well?
DEL: Yeah. I mean, Bootsy Collins passed me the Funk so I gotta hold it down. Hip Hop came from Jazz and Funk music so it just makes sense. I came up on it, its what I listen to, and it’s a huge party of my life… so naturally, it shows in my music, you dig?

SPAZ: Golden Era sounds both classic and modern at the same time. Was it difficult to balance the two? The album sounds contemporary but it also feels like it could give old school albums by Stetsasonic, Jungle Brothers and De La Soul a run for their money.
DEL: Yeah. I been evolving as an artist and a lot of people don’t give my new shit a chance because all they want is Deltron… and I get a lot of people hyping up my old shit and wanting me to make I Wish My Brother George Was Here or No Need For Alarm over and over again. I’m growing as an artist. We don’t live in the ‘90s anymore, and I’m at a different point in my life. This about as close as they gonna get, so enjoy it!

SPAZ: Golden Era is joined by two previously internet-only albums (Automatik Statik and Funk Man). These two gems have never seen a commercial release. Why is that? And what inspired you to release them in this package with the new album?
DEL: Funk Man was a stimulus package we put out for free… to give back to the fans that supported me as the economy tanked. I just wanted to give back to the people, essentially, so we put out the free album and did (and still do) a bunch of free shows whenever we can. Being it was a free album, no reason to press it up. Pressing up albums and distribution and stuff is pretty expensive and since that, along with Automatik Statik, were just projects I put together, not for a label or anything. We were cool with just putting them out on Bandcamp. The label liked the idea of the triple pack for Golden Era and, believe it or not, there are still people out there that like physical CDs… so we thought we would give it out as a little bonus for those heads that bought the (new) album.

SPAZ: Do you feel that your back catalog has stood the test of time because you have followed your own path, creatively?
DEL: Definitely. It’s both helped and hurt me in some ways. When you make timeless music, people get captured in that and won’t let go. So when I put out new shit and it ain’t Deltron or it ain’t No Need For Alarm, people see it as me slippin’ as opposed to me growing as an artist and evolving. You can’t be everything to everyone, though, so I just do me and keep it funky and let whoever diggin’ it roll wit me.

SPAZ: How hard is it for a successful Hip Hop artist such as yourself to essentially create your own rules and not follow the trends of the music business? Your albums are truly unique and intelligent and stand out in a sea of mediocrity…
DEL: It’s all in perspective. There are certain things you have to do to not even be successful, but relevant in this industry but ultimately just being yourself and doing it for the love of music and not to make a quick buck is all it takes. These new artists may make a lot more money but this my 20th year in the game, staying true to myself... Peep them in 20.

SPAZ: Apart from your solo releases, you’ve been involved with some pretty influential collaborations in the past including Deltron 3030, Hieroglyphics and even Gorillaz. Do you find it easy to work within the confines of a ‘group’ per say? Do you feel less pressure?
DEL: Ha! Group dynamics, behind the scenes, is crazy… If only you knew! But I never really been in a “group”. Dan the Automator really helps me push myself, artistically, and him and Koala were responsible for both Deltron and the Gorillaz shit, so I would say it’s more about being around like-minded people than anything. Hiero was a crew, but we never pitched ourselves as a “group”. Everybody got their own shit and we did some collective projects as well, but again that was more being around like-minded people and pushing each other then being a “group”.

SPAZ: Being the cousin of Gangsta Rap originator Ice Cube, was it difficult to carve your own niche and express your own personality in the beginning? I’m sure some folks in those early days expected you to follow in his footsteps?
DEL: Yeah. I was down with Da Lench Mob and writing for them a lot. And me and Cube did I Wish My Brother George Was Here and we was producing and writing for each other when I first came on the scene. But I wanted to do my own thing, so I branched off and, luckily, people still felt it. Some will say that first album was my best and others think different ones were. I just stayed true to the Funk and did my thing. Shout out to Cube, though!

SPAZ: Being a longtime pop culture fanatic, I’ve got to ask you this question: how on earth did you stumble upon “Zilch” by The Monkees that you used for your hit “Mistadobilina”. I remember the single coming out and, without hearing a single note, I instantly thought “Wow! Does Del own a copy of the album Headquarters?”
DEL: Boogiemen and myself actually produced that and we was always looking for funky, off the wall stuff to use. I can’t really remember who’s idea it was but I’ve got a copy of everything! (laughs)

SPAZ: Do you feel that the internet is a blessing or curse in regards to Hip Hop and the music industry in general?
DEL: For cats doing it just for the money, it affects them the most I’d say. My last album was a pick your price, you could pay whatever you wanted from $3 to “a milli” and guess what? We had people pay from $3-$3000. It’s out there for free download and shit… and people still paid for it. I bootleg my own stuff sometimes when I can’t find it on my hard drives, but the point is people will still support you if you keep it real with them.

SPAZ: What’s next for Del The Funky Homosapien?
DEL: Shit, I’m actually over at Dan The Automator’s, working on wrapping up Deltron Event II. Golden Era ‘bout to drop along with a lot of release shows. Spring festivals are poppin’ off in the next month or two. Got a Canadian tour planned in June, and, potentially, Europe in October. Other than that, just spreading the Funk, one day at a time.

SPAZ: What is currently spinning on your LP, CD and DVD players?
DEL: Psalm One, Hopie Spitshard, A.G., P-Funk, the new Cube record, Nitty Scott MC

Thanks to Del The Funky Homosapien

Special thanks to Jacki Feldstein, Dave Council and Matt Sawin





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