Del Tha Funkee Homosapien conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Interview

January 2003

These are the transcripts of an interview with Del Tha Funkee Homosapien. The interview was conducted by Hugo Lunny on January 19th, 2003.

Del is best known for his solo career, and his crew the Hieroglyphics. Other very notable Del related ventures include his work with Blur and The Automator in the Gorillaz and with Kid Koala and Automator for the project Deltron 3030. Later in '03, Del will release "The 11th Hour" his fifth solo release.

MVRemix: Exactly why is "Del" "Del Tha Funkee Homosapien"?

Del: I consider myself sort of a scientist, so that's how I got that name. It's just a scientific name for a human being. The "Funkee" part is just that I consider myself "funky." I deal with a lot of stuff in my life that I feel I've developed a sort of funky attitude at times. But, I feel like I'm real. That's part of it too.

MVRemix: Now, so far, with the wealth of albums you've had out...which would you say you're most proud of and would like people to remember you by if ever they had to choose one?

Del: The first album, and the last two; "Both Sides Of The Brain" and "Deltron."

MVRemix: Do you speak with [Ice] Cube much?

Del: Not now, but every once in a while I talk to him. So...we're still cool.

MVRemix: Any interest for you to be involved in one of his forthcoming films like "Yet Another Friday" or whatever?

Del: Nah man, I can't really act. Well, I won't say I can't act. What I mean to say is that ain't really my cup of tea. It'd take too much work. It's too much work for me to do a video. I can't imagine months on location, all day doing the same scene over again. Nah man, it's good money, but nah. Even for the money I still wouldn't do it.

MVRemix: Could you ever write a script or something along those lines?

Del: Now that I could probably do. Or even film the movie myself. I've got a pretty good idea for what goes first.

MVRemix: You wouldn't have a problem being behind the scenes rather than at the forefront then?

Del: Yeah, as far as that's concerned. I do like being in the public eye though to a degree.

MVRemix: I've read a lot and I've seen a lot about how you're a fan of Anime and Japanese video games and all that sort of shit. I also read how you were trying to learn, you were studying the actual language. How much have you developed yourself with that and would there be a chance of us seeing a Del track rapped in Japanese?

Del: To tell you the truth, I know Japanese pretty good, although I never get to use it so I'm very rusty. I studied Japanese for three or four years - I went to college for it and I studied it by myself. But as for speaking I can speak it, but not very much because I never to get to use it. All I need to do is be around it and I would probably pick it up real quick. I still watch Anime and stuff that'll be in Japanese and I'm still amazed at how much I do actually remember. I'll be thinking, "Man, I need to study before I forget it all." But then something will come on [TV] and I'll be like "Damn, I understood what he said!"

MVRemix: Have you spent much time in Japan?

Del: I went there a couple of times, but I pick it up a lot from my homie Shingo; he's from Japan. So he would help me out speaking sometimes.

MVRemix: Yesterday in Downtown Vancouver there was a huge peace rally against the "War On Terrorism." Many people were marching and actually acting as if they made a difference...but anyway, what is your opinion on the current situation i.e. do you think that "We" should be jumping towards killing Saddaam Hussein and bombing Iraq or do you think that it's just naive to believe that that is going to solve the problem?

Del: I think it's all political. I think that at times the government just want something to point the finger at and be like "Okay, they're the enemy. They're why your life is bad...the reason you can't get a job is because of Saddaam Hussein." Just to be able to have a scapegoat. As far as terrorism and stuff, sometimes that just happens because people are assholes. A lot of times it happens because once you get bullied too far, when you bully the wrong person; you're gonna get shot up. I feel like the United States has been bullying people for too long and now it's starting to come back. It's only natural. I think it really hit people as a surprise, as a shock because a lot of times we think we're so safe and nothing can touch us. Me personally, in my life, I just try to be cool. I don't try and do it too much one way or the other because I don't want to bring myself any bad karma.

MVRemix: What do you think of the word "Patriot"? Does it encourage love for your country or excessive conformity?

Del: I don't believe in just being a robot, but I do believe in people, to achieve a common goal sharing similar thoughts. A like-type of thinking; to move as a union. So, as an ideal it's great, but it falls somewhere short along the path. Everything can't be perfect so now we know it's not working. I feel personally that America is standing behind a lot of false-hoods. It's hypocrisy. They say one thing, but really, behind closed doors they do something else. I feel like it has leaked to the people. People tend to grow up in America believing that they can do whatever they want and not get caught. They see the president stealing or doing "all this" and think "Well hey, I can do it too. If the president doing it, it must be cool." I feel though that everybody's time will come. So if you're doing things behind closed doors. It's gonna come to the light sooner or later. I don't really worry about it, but I do believe in unity though.

MVRemix: Now I'm not going to say "On a lighter note..." But, on a "happier" note I've got some questions on your music more so. So, I'm going to name your various groups, and I'd like you to give me some information with regards to what's going on...

Del: Sure...

MVRemix: Firstly; Gorillaz.

Del: Okay, Gorillaz...I just kind of participated with that. They don't really exist, they're just cartoon characters. But, dude that draws Tank Girl and Damon from Blur - both of them got together and that was basically on them, with Automator. From what I understand it was kind of like a pet project, they didn't expect it to blow up like it did. More or less as creative minds they both dug each others stuff and they wanted to do a little something like that; they thought it would be cool. So, they put it on the Internet - just to have it out there. It started blowing up and got imported to the states after it became "hot." I just became a part of it, pretty much because I was working with Automator on the Deltron album. He knew that I'm real good at writing lyrics and knew that they could depend on me that night to write the songs that they needed. Little did I know it would get "this big," but it worked out though.

MVRemix: Leading on from that, what's going on with Deltron?

Del: That was kind of like a "one shot," though now that I see how popular it is I might re-visit it but it was kind of the same thing. It was a creative urge, something that I needed to do as opposed to a product although it came into being because I (kind of) knew that it would be a good product. It was separate from "Del Tha Funkee Homosapien" yet it still was me. So, that kind of validated buying it even if you had all my albums. Well, that ain't a "Del Tha Funkee Homosapien" album, it's "Deltron 3030." I got the idea from "Megaman X" [the video game] because the regular "Megaman" was kind of round, cartoony. They souped him up to "Megaman X" and made him futuristic. I always thought that was a dope idea.

MVRemix: Does "Push Button Objects" fall into the same sort of category?

Del: That was just something I did a remix for. Sometimes a lot of cats might send me some tracks and just want me to do a remix. That was more on the production tip.

MVRemix: How is the "11th Hour"(Del's forthcoming album) coming along? And how has your more specific studying of music and actual instrumentation managed to influence you?

Del: Really it kind of got sparked when I came to a point in my life where I was confused and I really didn't know how I was going to "make it." I came to a crossroads and I'd seen a lot of people in the music industry getting better with their music and music just changing so I was feeling kind of obsolete. Sort of humbled - I'd kind of had an attitude that I was "the shit." Not fully, because I'm not a bigheaded person but writing raps has never been hell'a hard for me. I'm just good with language in general. Its never been hard, I've always gotten props for being a visual artist because I knew how to draw. So, it was kind of funny being in the position where I wasn't the hot shot anymore.

I just wanted to further my career, make sure I could stick around. That's what initiated it, but really, immediately after I'd started studying it; I figured out that that was the natural progression of what I was supposed to be doing. That's kind of what I wanted to do anyway, I just had a deep seeded fear of taking it on before that I didn't even know about. I thought that I couldn't play music at that point. I had music classes when I was young, but I kind of got discouraged by my teachers because they weren't really teaching me anything. Del

Once I got the chance to really look at how music works I was like "Oh, this is all it is?" It was so easy that now I can see why they call it "playing" music. Now it's more like an obsession. I'd rather do that than anything else. It's coming along well, I can actually play the keyboard pretty good. But I'm more into rhythm now. At first I was more into trying to figure out chord progressions and scales...what have you. Now I'm starting to learn that all that shit is already there. There's nothing really new about that except the way you use your palette so to speak. Like you get a box of Crayola's, it's the same box of Crayola's for everybody that's gonna colour with them. But, each individual is gonna use them in a different way. That's kind of how music is.

I'm starting to peep that the rhythm is really what's gonna separate me from everybody else. I'm into that a little more now, even though that's another thing where I'm black, I'm African basically. That's something that's already in my blood that I kind of just took for granted; I've just got it like that. Now I'm starting to learn that you might have it, but that don't mean you're the master. I'm into funk a lot so that's where my music theory is based. A lot of people might think that I'm just into the books or I might get lost in the sea of all this technical jargon or whatever. It's not even like that at all. It's more like I want to express to the best ability whatever I'm feeling my music should feel or be about at that point. Now I can do it damn near. I'm pretty close to being able to do it. Where as before, it was just hit or miss. It was okay until I ran into a roadblock where I realized "Okay, that's not acceptable no more." Or, it won't be in a minute.

I feel like if I came out with another album like "Both Sides Of The Brain" now I'd be finished. I'm sure some people would like it, I'm not putting it down like that. But that style was starting to get old. If I couldn't update it, I'd just be old news.

Really I started seeing R&B and other types of music like that with that soul getting a little better than Hip Hop too, and Hip Hop slowly fading a little bit so I'm starting to worry about my career as a Hip Hop artist. What if that don't last? That was another reason I decided to study it in general. That way I could be around and do whatever is concerning music. I just love music in general, doesn't matter what it is, it's all the same to me. But I had to come to a point where I had to consolidate with exactly what type of music I wanted to do. Because I'm so inclusive, it's just as bad as having no direction at all. It's still confusion, so I had to narrow it down.

That took about two years, haha. Then, once I'd got a hold of that. I started thinking about "11th Hour" and how I wanted it to come out because I'd never thought about that. I thought just being me was enough; I'm starting to learn that it isn't. There are plenty of dope artists out there that are never gonna get listened to. It ain't just about being dope or having skills. You've got to know how to apply it. How to make songs... You've got to know how to entertain people. You've got to be somewhat cordial and be able to have a certain amount of patience and dedication to even get anywhere with it.

I feel like I wasn't too far from where I needed to be though. Just naturally because I try to be cool about everything and I'm pretty intuitive. Pretty open-minded. So it was just a little minor adjustment maybe, luckily. I see a lot of artists that get that big head, they think they're the shit or whatever. They turn around and ain't nobody give a shit about you, ain't nobody give a fuck about you. It's a shock to them "How could I fall off??? I'm the man."

MVRemix: So what exactly is going on in terms of when it's coming out or if it's in its late stages of production, or...

Del: I'm working on it now. I really wanted to get my skills up as an artist. Now I feel like my skills are to the level where they should be. Just me personally because I could already see once I started studying I thought "This ain't shit, if I just take another year I'll have damned near full control over this. Fuck it, I'll just take my time and work on it then." A lot of people around me couldn't understand. Even some people in my own clique. Reason being, I'm the person that if you needed a hook - you go to deal. Need a rap real quick - you go to Del. He'll write you a rap in like ten minutes. How come you don't have no songs done? I used to make songs all the time. It was nothing, where as some people have a problem with coming up with one song. It would take them a week or two to get one song done. I would try to tell them "I know how to make songs, it ain't about that no more. I'm trying to make great songs - straight classics." And just know that every time I sit on a drum machine to make a beat that it's gonna be hot.

I think that too, and I know I'm blabbing my ass off...Also I see that demands have changed as far as the demands on people in general. People just expect way more out of you. The economy is getting low and prices are going up as far as music is concerned. People ain't willing to put down that $20 on somebody goofing off. Or if you think you some hotshot artist, that's some bullshit. I don't want to listen to that. I don't know what the fuck you talk about. It was always like that, but it's getting more so now. I think in general just if you're working people are expecting you to come quicker with what you're doing, faster, better - all new. So I decided that I needed to find a way so that I could be more efficient with my music. Maybe out of a hundred beats, forty percent of them would be tight. Maybe thirty percent. I don't know, because I'm just making beats. Hopefully some of them would be useable; maybe none of them would be useable. That kind of ratio is too wayward for me. I had to have more of a sure-fire thing. I can't control all variables in the world but I can control what's going on with me.

So they're all the things that truly made me serious about it. Really it's about the fun, music is just hell'a fun to me. I'm a person that used to play video games all the time. I'll sit up playing Tekken practice mode all day just practicing. Not even playing the real game just practicing combo's and connections. Music works just like that. It's different patterns, you have little bass patterns and then you have different combo's that you put with that pattern that you could just pull out whenever you're improvising or whatever. Even down to the keyboard. I didn't even have to get my fingers ready for fingering and shit because I played video games so damned much. It was real natural for me. It's really fun to me, I want to stress that because some people say that "That's too much work to learn that" or whatever. If you really love music, it ain't that much work.

I ain't gonna say should go out to learn it because you definitely don't need to know that to play music. It's mostly more about feel than anything else. But I feel like, pretty much, I've always been a composer at heart. I'm not the type of person to have a beat just running and then rap over it. I'm wanting the beat to do something because usually I'm listening to the beat myself before I even write a rap to it so I want it to sound interesting to me just as an instrumental. Learning a lot about the language of music as far as talking to somebody else about my ideas or as far as the actual music. Each style of music has got its own language so to speak. It's interesting because you asked me a few minutes ago about Japanese. That was clicking in my head too, all this was perfect the way that it was set up because I studied so hard at Japanese, I was like "Oh this ain't shit compared to learning Japanese!"

MVRemix: Will you be doing more production or have a prominent producing role on "Full Circle" (the next Hieroglyphics album)?

Del: A lot of it is done already. I was burnt out for three or four years, dealing with hell'a personal problems. Not really with me; myself, but people around me - having to deal with them. During that time they (the rest of Hiero) was recording the album. I'd either be on the road or at home trying to get my home life in order. Most of that is done but right now I'm cool. So after I'ma get off this road trip, I'll go home and get in there. Add my piece...bring what I now know about music to the table. It's actually set up kind of perfectly now because I'm pretty much finished with what I really need to learn about music as far as the foundations so I could bring that to the table just as they finished their parts. Kind of sequence the album maybe, see how everything can connect and make it a real strong album. I don't want it to just be song after song just thrown together. I think the public demand more, I think that us as a crew could give more. I feel like we're all super talented. There ain't many crews like that.

MVRemix: Definitely, I mean, "Third Eye Vision," you have to top it. That's the thing...the next album, you have to top what you did last.

Del: Definitely, definitely. I feel with "Third Eye Vision," we didn't even really do that much. Like I said before, I ain't gonna talk for everybody else but I kind of had a chip on my shoulder like "I'm the shit" but a lot of reviewers reviewed that album saying, "It's cool, but we know Hiero. This ain't the best they can do." A lot of them songs were already made and we just made a compilation album out of it. We didn't go into a studio and say "We're working on the Hiero album now." Hell'a them songs was already made. 'Not saying that's bad, 'not saying that's good. But I'm saying if we really sit down and make a Hiero album - we could make a bomb ass album.

MVRemix: Is there any date or vague time frame in which it's going to emerge?

Del: I don't know man, I think we're all trying to get our shit together. We're trying to consolidate a certain type of scheduling as far as this is all concerned. Pretty soon though, probably like April or May. But I'm also trying to work on "11th Hour" as well. Luckily I learned all this stuff about music because it's the least of my worries at this point. I used to be stressed out about will people like it? This, that or the other - that's now the least of my worries. I can do that very quickly, efficiently and it's like when I was doing it before. It's fun to do, I just kick it. I make a beat real quick and don't really have to worry about it.

MVRemix: Do you have any last words or statements you'd like to make?

Del: Yeah, I was saying this on stage the other night. It's just about the whole "mainstream" versus "underground" thing. Let me just say first off, for me "underground" is basically just the hard stuff. That's the core Hip Hop to me. It ain't diluted or just some MacDonald's that they made specifically to sell to the public and nothing else damned near. With that being said, that could be "mainstream."

I feel like Busta Rhymes is an "underground" artist, but he's also a "mainstream" artist because a lot of people like his stuff. As I was saying on stage yesterday, don't front on things just because they get a lot of light. You'd be missing out on a lot of dope stuff. That's the same thing that a lot of people in the "mainstream" started doing with us, with the "underground." They started saying "You're just backpackers, blah blah, rapping about nothing" or whatever. Now, we're starting to do it to them and I just don't dig that.

I think that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover; I think that you should try to see what's inside first, see what's happening and then you can make a proper judgement about what you deal with. I feel like if we want Hip Hop to last then there can't be inner bickering about the most petit issues. They don't even mean nothing, I feel like if it's good music, it's good music. I find that really, there's a lot of hardcore Hip Hop heads that's like that.

The average listener, and I'm like the average listener because I like all kinds of music, they're not tripping off of how dope you can flow. Or how many words you can fit in a sentence or how cerebral you can get or how artsy fartsy you being. If I can't listen to it then it's weak, period. I think that since most people feel that way, that's where my mind is at.

But I want to tell everybody that at the same time I'm not compromising myself just to sell records. I feel like I'm a universal person already and I feel there's very little I need to do to reach a lot of people. I feel like I need to do damn near nothing, just be myself. As long as I just make sure every song is tight.

I've seen a lot of times in the past, like Tash for instance. He came out with "Rap Life" album and was like "Man, I want to make money - I want to go gold or platinum with this. I'm not even gonna front." A lot of people ostracized his album because they felt he was selling out to be successful and I thought that was weak because he had a dope album.

MVRemix: What do you think about the way that people have responded to Xzibit? J-Ro came out with a track a week or two ago called "The X Homie" dissing Xzibit. Apparently Xzibit is sticking with Dre and all of them, ignoring the Liks...turning his back. Do you think it's a similar thing...

Del: I know Xzibit, Xzibit's the homie and I know Tha Alkaholiks, they're the homie too. But I don't really know about the inner thing that's going on. I can't really sit and judge and say it's an example of this or that. I think with that, if a nigga gon' make a song about him, obviously it's something a little more personal at work there. Not just that he's with Dre because there wasn't no problem before.

Tha Alkaholiks ain't even like that, they gon' congratulate you if you're being successful. But that's kind of like what I'm talking about too, I can't sit here and speculate on their little whatever because that's what people did with Tupac and Biggie. Don't nobody really know what was going on with Tupac and Biggie. Really they didn't have no beef, it was people around them just blowing it all out of proportion. Biggie died wondering why Tupac was trippin' at him. It's like a slaughter fest in an arena, or barbarians or something. Where you sit and see a man in a ring fighting the lion, you want to see the lion eat up the man just to see some blood.

I would urge to the listener to let artists have their personal lives and don't try to make too many judgments as far as that's concerned. Let it be about their music. If it's dope, it's dope. Don't let that other stuff influence it. That's the point I'm trying to make.

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