"Outside the Bus" with Del the Funkee Homosapien by Bret Dougherty

 

"Outside the Bus" with Del the Funkee Homosapien by Bret Dougherty

October 8, 2003 @ Cat's Cradle Parking Lot, Chapel Hill, NC

When I first heard about Del "The Funky Homosapien" in 93, I sloughed him off until the summer of'94 when I spent the summer of my senior year in San Francisco. My East Coast biased mind was blown away by a few heads that summer, and their listening recommendations led me to bounce through the streets of North Beach, Presidio Heights, and the Haight on the MUNI lines to beats and lyrics from Del and his Hieroglyphics crew.

However, when I rolled back Chapel Hill, NC, I fell back into a closed listening mode after school, and I didn't open my musical listening until I returned to San Francisco in the mid-nineties. After a reintroduction to Del's lyrics by a friend in Hapkido class, I steered back over to the interplanetary references of Del.

Since that re-introduction, I have gained a ton of respect for Del because he has released a number of projects with repeated technological references in his music. After many listens, I have often wondered if and how much does technology really play a role in his music. I've always been impressed with his art because his style and lyrics stray from the b.s. thuggery that can plague hip-hop, but I've also learned that a lot of MCs have no problem with fronting on their boasts.

If he is a believer of mixing tech with hip-hop, I've often thought that fellow MCs and artists could learn a lot from him. In October of 2003, Del came through Chapel Hill with Hieroglyphics and some of his boys from Oakland, CA.

After the Hiero show, he was cradling a Sony Mini-Camcorder, a mini-tripod, a PDA, and a black-tipped graf-marker in the bottom half of his gray hooded fleeced Ecko sweatshirt. The sweatshirt with his toolset made him look like a fleece covered jawa, and I could instantly see that Del is a proponent of high-end devices. He cordially accepted an interview, and I asked him a few questions outside of his tour bus.

So, as Del rolled a fat bone while giving me a brief introduction to his sketch book, which is as impressive as a Kato dropkick, he pondered my questions concerning: How technology is influencing hip-hop? How it can further hip-hop? and What does he look for in his musical influences?

BD: How can hip-hop utilize technology to push up to the next level?

Del: Hip hop is just a reflection of what's going on, or where the art is….Technology definitely gives artists a new mind, new voice and creativity. Right now people need to be more places at once….so whatever can get people to the next level to be efficient is how technology is going to be used……The danger is if people are relying too much on the machines, that new mind and new voice always has to come from within.

BD: What technological advances would further hip-hop?

Del: Whatever can get me more efficient….Just more speed and faster shit. The demand is to not just work quicker under pressure, but to produce with creativity and with quality. I'd try any thing that would allow me to more do more things with efficiency and quicker speed. Especially with video, I would like to mix my computer drawings and video in with my music more efficiently.

Right now, the equipment that I'm working with is a Sony Vaio and my man has a Apple G4 PowerBook with VST Plug-Ins on board the bus. What would take me to the next level as a visual artist is to record mini DVD recordings like the ones that I'm filming now on tour and on stage. I think you're going to see a lot more thugged out visual shit from me in the future…. Any thing by me that could just thug it out is cool……

BD: You're talking about that next level. A lot of people say you're there, and you're pushing the pace. How do you push your work up that next level?

Del: Well hip-hop is really just a reflection of what's going on, and where the art is. You have to reach whatever realm people are on.

The problem with being too out there with new shit is that you're too early and no one is able to get it. You have to be able to reflect upon where the demand is and where the people are at, and you have to be able to reach them at their level because they may not get it for a few years. If that happens, you're too out of the realm, and they just won't get it.

You have to make sure that your art is reflecting where people are at.

BD: What artists do you think used technology to get to the next level, and do you use them as musical influences?

Del: I'm really down with anything from the 70s, but Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, and Bootsy Collins are just out there. We're on the discussion of tech....when Stevie was turning stuff out, he was into using new things. New instruments, new music, new insights….George Clinton was doing that too while thinking beyond the time he was in. More importantly, he was hip to new shit. No trends.....George was just using insight beyond what's going on in the moment, and he was not afraid to push his insight out there.

That's what I get from them, and that's the way I would like my art to be, no trend, just hip to new things.

BD: Alright, Del....Peace, thanks and much respect.....Enjoy that bone..

Del: Haaa....sho'nuff....thanks for the time...Peace....

 

 

 

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