CD Review of The Eleventh Hour by Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
Recommended if you like
Fatlip, A Tribe Called Quest,
anything that Del’s in.
Label
Definitive Jux
Del Tha Funkee Homosapien:
The Eleventh Hour

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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D
el Tha Funkee Homosapien last dropped an album under that name way back in 2000. And while eight years is a long time between records for any artist, it’s an especially long time in the world of hip-hop. Rap is a genre that is notoriously fickle. Artists have to be quick to lay down a new record soon after the last one has dropped, or their fans will probably move onto to newer acts with more slickly produced beats.

Del hasn’t stepped completely off the face of the earth since the dawn of the new millennium, though. There’s the Hieroglyphics, his underground hip-hop collective, who have released a few albums over the years. And there was also Deltron 3030, a collaboration between Del, Dan the Automator, and Kid Koala, which eventually spun off into the Gorillaz, where he contributed two of the band’s biggest singles, “Clint Eastwood” and “Rock the House.”

Still, he hasn’t been out on his own in quite a while, so it was hard to know what to expect coming into his latest solo release, The Eleventh Hour. He nearly stumbles right out of the gates, first with the forgettable “Raw Sewage” and then with “Bubble Pop,” which dubiously builds from a sample from Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper.” Del’s been known as one of the most unique and groundbreaking MCs in the underground hip-hop scene, and cribbing from the originators of the genre isn’t a good way to keep that up. Things get patched up quickly, though, on the electronic-sounding “Slam Dunk” and “Situations” – and even when the samples and beats are little weak, Del’s nonstop fast-paced lyrical flow always seems to keep things going strong.

Del’s insane lyrics mesh perfectly with crazy beats and music on “Hold Your Hand,” where the funky rapper crafts rhymes about Motorola phones, cocoa beans, and God knows what else (dude talks fast). What really makes the track memorable, though, is the (pot-influenced?) distorted and slowed-down chorus of “I don’t know why niggas be so damn slow man / No one’s gonna hold your hand.” It’s trippy and oddly captivating.

While “Bubble Pop” falls off of the tracks because of that unnecessary Run-DMC sample, “Last Hurrah” owes its success to that trailblazing rap group, but not because of any cribbed sample. Instead, it’s the strong rhymes that conclude with a powerful shout out to the legendary Jam Master Jay: “It’s like that and that’s how it is / That’s JMJ / And when he passed away that’s when the clock stopped / We just sit back and watch / Fake niggas pop the walk and never talk.”

While The Eleventh Hour is a little rough around the edges, it does have a distinct advantage over just about every mainstream rap release from the past couple years: There are no beats and loops that sound like they were programmed on your little brother’s Casio, you won’t find any robotic pitch-corrected singing, and not once are you likely to hear a dreadlocked moron yell out “yeah!” That has to count for something.

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