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Del The Funky Homosapien - Eleventh Hour

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Artist: Del The Funky Homosapien

Album: Eleventh Hour

Label: Def Jux

Review date: Mar. 11, 2008

Del is no longer the Funky Homosapien, in more ways than one. Recent exploits into music theory seem to have grounded his eccentricities. Gone is the lysergic astro traveling found on Deltron 3030. Ditto for the the art-of-story-telling Dana Dane-isms like No Need For Alarm’s “Wrong Place.” Their replacement: battle raps from a conscientious-objecting MC who now deadpans, “Reality is undisputed / If you say it ain’t so then you acting stupid.”

Opening with dialogue from a Mothership Connection tour in Oaktown (reminiscent of Check Your Head’s cheap trick), “Raw Sewage” has Del laying into a Temper-pedic thump between Mister Cee-style scratching and climaxing horn blasts. It tops his 11 monochromatic production credits. Another, “Back in the Chamber” dials back to the days when hip hop DJs obsessed over Soul Brother Number One – think a digital take on Step in the Arena-DJ Premier. But the proceedings turn stale quick. The generic bounce of “Slam Dunk” is more Stephon Marbury than Vince Carter. “Situations” rides out on a nice cut-collage sourcing Kurious’ “I’m Kurious,” but the remedial keyboard and drum pattern seems nearly identical to half of the other tracks. The title “Naked Fonk” epitomizes the minimal mindset.

Boogie Down MC/producer KU, the first guest spot on the album (nearly 40 minutes in), allays the otherwise continued monotony. Bucking the trend of saturating your record with sideliners, Del raps every verse until Eleventh Hour’s 11th track and plain-speaks many of the choruses. Aside from the record’s neverchanging tempo, it’s Hour’s most glaring problem. “Hold Your Hand” is the one exception, as a Cristal-clear synthesizer solicits wrists to reach higher and only the wet Humpty-vocal on the anti-hook keeps things from completely floating away.

Limiting the intricacy of his flow, Del has always been of the Chuck D/Sadat X camp of emceeing – with a Native Tongue bent. His Eleventh Hour streams seem to glorify a pre-evolved hip hop. Short phrases rhymed consecutively like: “Running the street / Tongue in cheek / Pummeling beats / Tunneling freaks / Feel me Black / I really rap / Conceal the trap / I deal the pack / Going gone / Growing long / Loaded arms / Throwing bombs” on first single “Workin’ It” are typical fare. Some of the choruses seem even less developed – on “Bubble Pop,” Del three-peats “Why do you think that you are all that, you ain’t.” Not exactly an “Oh shit!” dis. His duet with Digable Planets’ Ladybug on “I Got You” evokes Positive K and MC Lyte’s “I Got a Man” … if they eventually got together and grew comfortable with each other.

Del debuted on his cousin Ice Cube’s riotous Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, sticking out like a black sheep. The trajectory of their (rap) careers has since crisscrossed more than once. Theses days he’s even boasting “I bet I even reach the hardest G’s / Cause my artistry / Ain’t too hard to see.” Which can be taken more ways than one. His last album Both Sides of the Brain suggested and internal struggle between the “logical” and the “random.” Eleventh Hour flexes no such dilemma. On the penultimate track, Del elucidates his new vision: “No nonsense / Straight up and down." Not exactly what I’d throw on a Del record for.

By Jake O'Connell

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