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Del The Funky Homosapien - Golden Era

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Artist: Del The Funky Homosapien

Album: Golden Era

Label: The Council

Review date: Apr. 19, 2011

Aside from being one of the longest-running bona fide “underground” rappers and one of the smartest dudes in this rap shit, Del the Funky Homosapien also remains one of hip hop’s great misunderstood comedians. Some people say funny things. Del mixes elevated vocab with crass surrealism and toilet talk like Kool Keith minus the in-your-face schizoid persona. Some people, anything they say is funny. Between his low-key West Coast drawl and his nerdy over-enunciation, DtFS has been the go-to weirdo rapper for Deltron 3030 and Gorillaz because he can turn any phrase into a punchline. Including, on “Double Barrel,” the line “kill yourself if you ain’t feelin’ Del.”

It’s hard to imagine a time when Del was on MTV and Elektra, but that time was the early ’90s, when discs as experimental as I Wish My Brother George Was Here and No Need For Alarm could be copped in San Bernardino malls. Unlike his polar-opposite cousin Ice Cube (who, as a credit to the relentless intelligence behind his ever-shifting persona, had the balls to put Del on with his original crew), DtFS has never conceded a thing to the mass marketplace. “Clint Eastwood” may have been the last relevant shit he did. But the lowered stakes hardly diminish Golden Era, the smartest, funniest, most urgent hip hop joint of ’11 by far.

The vibrant, thundering, overstuffed mix — with its elaborate, part-jazz/funk, part-industrial hooks — would sound complete by itself. But the MC is also in rare form, if a bit bitter. In fact, more than half the raps on Golden Era seem to be dissing hip hop purists (“Upside Down”), apparently specific fellow rhymesayers (“Makes No Sense”), someone he wants to assault physically (the hilarious “Pearly”) or “loudmouths” (Del’s pet obsession these days) in general. As always, though, his delivery is so playful and off that’s it’s really hard to tell when or whether or not he’s kidding. Still, when he drops the expansive word game “One Out of a Million” at the halfway point over a relatively mellow Oakland-style track, it’s a bit of a relief, even when it abruptly fades out mid-bar.

By Emerson Dameron

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