Young folks may know him from his work with the Gorillaz or his 2000 release, Deltron 3030. But those who were into Bay Area (specifically Oakland-based) hip-hop during the early ’90s will remember him as Del tha Funkee Homosapien, emcee, and creator of Hieroglyphics. And it goes almost without saying that there’s a lot of anticipation surrounding the leader of the Hiero Crew’s stop at Velvet Jones this Thursday night.
Del has been on the hip-hop scene since its storming takeover in the late 1980s, when he collaborated lyrically for cousin Ice Cube’s crew, Da Lench Mob. An emcee at heart and a natural at writing, Del released I Wish My Brother George Was Here in 1990, an album that received critical acclaim and was widely appreciated for its jazz- and funk-rooted beats. But it wasn’t until ’94 when Del would create Hieroglyphics and release a record without the financial support of his cousin. Since then, his influence has grown, conquering the underground scene one live show at a time with the help of Hiero’s other members, including Souls of Mischief, Casual, Domino, and Pep Love. Marked by their distinct and abstract third eye logo, which Del created himself, Hieroglyphics have gone on to release eight albums, and Del’s solo work has even gone on to find big-screen fame, like in the major blockbuster Ocean’s Eleven.
Ticket holders for Thursday night’s show at Velvet Jones should be prepared for anything. And don’t plan on rapping along, because Del may, at a second’s notice, launch into an off-the-cuff freestyle, just to keep things fresh. During a 2001 performance in Tahoe, onlookers witnessed as Del’s music cut out due to a technical malfunction, and were astounded as Del continued rapping, eventually reuniting with the beat after the problem was fixed. No surprise to anyone-he was right on point. Check out Del tha Funkee Homosapien this Thursday, January 29, at Velvet Jones (423 State St.) at 9 p.m. Call 965-8676 or visit inticketing.com for tickets.