25 Years Ago, Del The Funky Homosapien Came Out Swingin’ Like ‘I WISH They Would’ (Audio)
Today, Del The Funky Homosapien may be thought of as an inventive, at times, experimental veteran MC from Oakland, California. D-E-L has worked with the Gorillaz, Handsome Boy Modeling School, and most recently BROOKZILL! to exercise his tremendous vocabulary, and display the range in his delivery. However, when it all started back in late 1991 with I Wish My Brother George Was Here (25 years ago this week), Ice Cube’s cousin burst onto the scene with a chip on his shoulder at some Rap peers, throwin’ lyrical elbows.
The Elektra Records debut album by Del Tha Funkee Homosapien as he was then known had more in common with Ice Cube than people may remember. Both MCs loved the thick grooves of Parliament Funkadelic and that electronic Funk sound. That was the “George” Del longed for, a reference to the Funkateer bandleader George Clinton (as well as a reference to a Bill Cosby album of the same name). Based on the direction in which Del would head as the ’90s charged on, George is a vacuum experience. As Domino, Casual, the Stimulated Dummies, and others took on production duties during the Hieroglyphics’ expansion, the ’91 jump-off was Del, Cube, and the Boogiemen (DJ Pooh and Rashad Coes) gettin’ busy with the Funk flair.
Backed by a major label, George has memorable music videos. “Mistadobalina” and “Dr. Bombay” are ever-popular calling cards for an MC who, albeit unconventionally, proved early to be catchy. “Sleepin’ On My Couch” was sophisticated-sounding silliness as far as easy-to-relate-to Rap. One of the oft-overlooked gems within I Wish My Brother George Was Here is “Pissin’ On Your Steps.” Here, Del let loose… in more ways than one.
In 1990 and early ’91, Del was running with Da Lench Mob, and helping Cube introduce an act that had a militant stance to match arguably the most aggressive MC in Rap at the time. He was around O’Shea Jackson as he was dissing N.W.A. and others, speaking his mind with furrowed brow. Thereby, “Pissin’ On Your Steps” showcased a rookie who also did not give a damn about seniority.
“Pissin’ On Your Steps” is like it sounds—irreverent. With at least four samples at play (including P-Funk’s “Colour Me Funky”), the song begins with D-E-L unzipping and relieving himself. Here, The Homosapien disses Dance Rap. He takes a clear shot at Vanilla Ice (“Ice is cool, but I can’t stand Vanilla / Because he takes a style and tries to mock it / Ain’t nothin’ personal, G, but I’m kinda into chocolate“), who was one of Rap’s most commercial stars at the time. Del also swings for M.C. Hammer (“Let’s have a vote and try to register our ballots / And realize a Hammer’s just a mallet”) which was a seemingly dangerous choice for a fellow lyricist coming up in Oakland. Along the way, Del shouts out Hiero, two calendar years before ’93. Cube also pops in—not unlike how Beanie Sigel appeared on Meek Mill’s “Ooouuu.” It is merely a gesture of support, which presumably went uncontested by Vanilla or Hammer.
In hindsight, dissing Hammer and Vanilla Ice was no big thing. 3rd Bass (with help from Zev Love X a/k/a DOOM) took their shots on “The Gas Face” and “Pop Goes The Weasel,” as did others. However, what is odd—25 years later—is that Del saw those artists and De La Soul as guilty of the same crimes of Rap. “See, I’m rather mellow, some call it lazy / Me and myself and I ain’t with the daisies / ‘Cause I’m no god damn flower / And every single dancer in circumference receives a golden shower,” spewed the MC, taking a shot at De La and their 3 Feet High and Rising single by name.
Just like Biggie Smalls takin’ a lyrical swing at Kwamé, Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound making fun of Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat, or other cases of quick, unreturned disses—this was Hip-Hop. Del was a chippy rookie who wanted to be heard, and felt that Hip-Hop and Soul Train should be kept separate. Besides a few specifically-aimed bars, the song simply knocks, with Del digging in on a beautifully-arranged blend of samples into a grabbing loop.
It’s ironic that after dissing De La Soul and their “Da.I.S.Y.” persona of the day, Del has worked so closely with Prince Paul since—right down to Throwback To The Future. Notably, he also joined De La in garnering major looks through the Gorillaz.
Like Common Sense and Xzibit, Del would fast grow out of a beer-swilling, public relieving MC into a fuller, more defined character. However, in the eyes of many his LP celebrating its 25th anniversary is the one with the greatest production. That’s the kind of discourse Hip-Hop is built on though.
Fans can stream a ton of Del’s recent releases on his music page.