Del the Funky Homosapien was an omnipresent force in the early ‘90s alternative hip-hop scene. Although his own LPs were few and far between, Del was always slinging guest verses, appearing on records by the likes of Souls of Mischief, The Coup, and Gorillaz. His articulate flow was recognizable—iconic, even—and he built a following by mining the fan bases of his contemporaries. His occasional solo work, such as the brilliant I Wish My Brother George Was Here, secured his place in the hip-hop canon.
Del’s been far busier these past five years than he was in the ‘90s, releasing four albums since 2008. The latest, Attractive Sin, is a collaboration with producer Parallel Thought, and marks the second time these two have teamed up (they worked together on 2008’s Parallel Uni-Verses). The reunion makes sense: Parallel Thought’s horn-driven beats are triumphant, the perfect compliment to Del’s wordplay. The two sound good together, but it’s Del’s lyrics that have become iffy.
Opener “On Momma’s House” struts along behind a swinging horn section as Del rhymes that he’s as “sharp as a laser,” and you can “ask anyone from the Bay area” if you don’t believe him. It’s a brag-track, one of many on Attractive Sin. Based on his past successes, Del has the right to be cocky, but he sounds awkward as a boastful rapper. He’s best when he’s weird and random. On the autobiographical “Different Guidelines”, he revisits his days as a budding emcee in Oakland: “When I started to rhyme, fools thought I was trippin’/ They all tried to diss it/ I was basically a misfit.” Del ignored the haters, embraced his eccentricity, and made a career out of it. That’s why it’s sad to see him descend into rapping about how good he thinks he his.
There are only a handful of choruses on Attractive Sin, as Del and Parallel Thought forgo melody and hooks in favor of unrelenting flow. This puts too much pressure on Del’s lyrics, which are abnormally self-centered this time around. Despite Parallel Thought’s strong production, Attractive Sin’s failings fall on Del. He can do better.
Essential Tracks: “Different Guidelines”