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Del the Funky Homosapien: “People Gotta Believe in You for You to Sell Anything. That’s Pimpology 101.”

September 13, 2017

 

Del the Funky Homosapien hits Philly on Thursday, performing at CODA with Richie Cunning.

Del has been on the scene since the early 90s. His cousin, Ice Cube, helped release his debut solo album. He blew up in the early 2000s after collaborating with Gorillaz. And Del has been making thought-provoking music ever since.

We caught up with the California native and talked to him about the changing musical landscape that he has observed for more than 25 years.

You’ve been around a minute and the industry has clearly evolved. How has that changed your approach to making music?

I just evolve with it, same as I always have. New techniques or styles that I think are cool influence me, and then it makes its way into my music and overall philosophy behind it.

One thing I do try to focus on is being tasteful, at least tasteful within my sliding scale of what that is anyway.

Honestly, the industry is pretty lame overall, and tardy. I pay more attention to the Internet and hip-hop. For instance, battle rap is probably the most influential as far as what I’m doing because it’s really the only place I can get just straight up hip-hop without too much meddling. Even music-wise because they do have new music in between battles. May not be on the radar yet, but nothing I was ever into was until years later. And now they are all standards.

But it takes years because the industry in general is tardy and concentrates on sales over anything innovative. Now, if can be both, they’ll accept it. That’s why they’re tardy. Because by that time we all are aware of it, they’ll be the last to know.

I think of everything when it comes to my music. It’s part of my brand, so I have to. And for those out there who don’t know what a brand is, it’s just you. It’s like a reputation, people begin to associate a certain level or quality with your name, or brand, for instance Sony. I’m sure you could gather a picture in your mind about Sony right now. They’re fairly cutting edge and decent.

I’ll leave it at that.

Aside from the business end, how did music change? What changed it?

I believe it’s the type of business ran rather than just business period that changes things, not just music. It’s because the focus is more on getting more money over getting innovative or novel product, which is what brings the money in the first place. Well, it fills a void. It’s either useful or it’s interesting enough. It’s cool, I’ll say that.

I think a lot of companies just look at the bottom line. And someone has to do that for sure, or they would lose more money than they made.

But really, as far as hip-hop, I think we as artists dropped the ball, either by going too commercial with the thuggery or the flossing, or underground artists like me becoming incomprehensible to the general public.

And lack of wordplay or humor.

But that was helped by industry, because they only are interested in what sells. Doesn’t matter the after effects from it. The Internet helped change dynamics between the artist and the industry though. No longer can the industry monopolize how music is received. But I think a lot of fans just gave up on at least “urban” music because they just seen years of the same game being played. Decades. So I don’t think it’s respected. But that’s beginning to change too, change is inevitable.

So, just be ahead of the curve and do you, I feel, is the best bet. That’s what a lot of these kids do.

 

Do you feel the real writers, the lyricists, are less appreciated today than when you began?

Depends on who you ask or where you look. In battle rap, we have the best rappers in the world. I think the fans of that do appreciate the level displayed there. I know I do.

As far as commercial music, what lyricists? A lot of artists are admittedly not interested in that, and I get it. The music is first, lyrics hopefully second. If the lyrics are too much, where it takes away from the music, it can be annoying. But that don’t mean just go the complete opposite and just blab anything that you throw out. And this is all relative too. That’s just my perspective.

But I feel if you want to be appreciated you have to think about who is listening to you, too. To me, it’s like comedy. You gotta know your audience. You don’t pander to them but you don’t go too far outside of their experience or interests either. It’s not easy to do. A lot of my time is spent figuring ways to walk that fine line.

But like comedy, you don’t tell me what is funny. I’ll tell you after I hear it. So, some artists got it the other way- you’re obligated to listen to them in their mind. Ok.

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You have your full catalogue available online. Most albums are wicked cheap or free. Are you sending some sort of message by doing this?

I’m not in control of that! Hahahaha! Sorry, that’s out of my hands.

I’m not actively chasing down people who offer my music for download either, not when I don’t see a problem with it in the first place. At least they think my music is worth downloading. But since I’m kinda part of that, I feel I can say that if someone comes with something really good, people will buy it.

I bought Earl Sweatshirt’s first album twice, digitally and a physical copy. Was waiting ‘tll the day his second dropped and bought that. If you have money you can spend it, that’s what it’s for. So, you like an artist or a product? You buy it. Money well spent.

I’ve gotten letters from kids admitting to me they used to download all my stuff and they wanted to somehow make up for it. I told them I’m not tripping off that, but just support how you can at the time. Even a good word is good enough for me.

That’s me though

As a label owner, isn’t it counter-intuitive to essentially give away music?

Like I said, money is to be spent. People who got it are going to spend it. If you ain’t got it, there are ways now you can get music. Believe me, I know.

What can you do? Music is not a thing you can just grab up with your hands and own it. That’s why it’s tricky when it comes to laws.

What you’re really paying for is that artist’s expertise, because you can’t do it and no one else can either. That’s why artists get more popular when they die. You ain’t getting no more!

Some things that seem counter-intuitive actually may work if you look closer. Just the respect factor that comes from me not chasing every supposed penny I supposedly lost may bring more support and, with that, sales. Because people gotta believe in you for you to sell anything. That’s Pimpology 101

The label has only a few artists right now. Is that a sign of the times, a commentary about the music being produced today and what you want to put forward?

Oh, our label I guess you’re asking about? It’s just a real chore to release music. And it costs, frankly. We are just coasting far as that. We ain’t millionaires. Which is why I don’t mind throwing stuff out there o line sometimes.

As an artist, you wanna share what you got. And business-wise, I like to see how people respond to things. Should I go forward with it or knock it off?

A lot of my time has been taken up quelling drama situations and studying things to help me create better, more entertaining product. Also, trying to reprogram my mind and be more innovative, since the Internet allows you to truly just do what you want with no middleman telling you it won’t work. You can see for yourself if it’ll work.

So yeah, I guess it’s a sign of the times

What can people expect from a Del show?

I get into it. Pretty much. I’m there to give y’all a good performance no matter what.

You paid for it. I respect that. I bring the funk, the hip-hop too. I’m a talk to y’all. I’m touchable. If you see me around, you may be able to strike a conversation with me. Some think that I’m humorous. I try to make it a good time pretty much.

You tell me. I dunno?

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