When thinking about some of the most underappreciated emcees that hip-hop tends to overlook, past or present, one that is near the top of the list is the Oakland-bred artist Del The Funky Homosapien.
Since his career began in the early ‘90s, Del, born Teren Delvon Jones, has been among most uniquely skilled figures in hip-hop. From his one-of-a-kind voice and alternative approach to West Coast hip-hop, or his contributions to the number of musical affiliates who have left lasting legacies for themselves, Del has helped define what it means to be a skillful emcee, diverse artist and great collaborator.
One of the things that makes Del underappreciated is his unique and distinct delivery, managing to balance a rhythmic approach with a conversational style that make his battle rhymes more free-flowing.
Through the use of his baritone voice and the drawn-out way he raps his phrases, songs like “Catch A Bad One” and “Stress the World” are just a few examples of his ability to cut through each track with an enthusiasm that punctuates every line he breathes.
Lyrically, Del has the ability to come across clear and concise with his words when utilizing multi-syllabic and internal rhyme schemes. His inclusion of a variety of vocabulary terms and pop culture references sounds as if he is taking random selections from encyclopedias and dictionaries and then effortlessly throwing them together.
While his lyrical prowess is among the best hip-hop has to offer, Del has also always been a great songwriter, crafting tracks about driving while drunk, getting robbed and self-respect in relationships with such great detail and imagery that he has become one of the most compelling storytellers in the genre.
Del’s ability to diversify the sound of his music has also given him one of the greatest successions of album outputs in hip-hop that is on par with the likes of Ice Cube, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest.
Whether it is the playfully funky aesthetic of his debut album “I Wish My Brother George Was Here,” the dense, jazz infused follow-up “No Need For Alarm” or the more melodic boom bap of “Future Development,” Del’s willingness to experiment with new sounds has given him a colorful discography and a number of people who have their own picks for his best work.
Outside of his own projects, Del has assisted in the works of some of the most revered figures, both inside and outside of hip-hop, such as Ice Cube and Gorillaz.
Being his cousin, Ice Cube gave Del the opportunity to help the gangsta-rap legend craft a couple of his songs for his classic debut album “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” in 1990. In his work with Gorillaz, his voice and words can be heard on “Rock the House” and the hit-single “Clint Eastwood,” providing the rap portion of both songs from the group’s self-titled album.
Del is also a member of the hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics, who have been one of the most well-respected crews in the genre due to their number of talented emcees, independent business acumen and the recognizable third eye logo that he drew, as well as the popular Hiero Day in Oakland.
Whether he is too strange for your taste, or if you relate to the persona he embodies in his music, there is no doubting that Del The Funky Homosapien possesses the talent, diverse catalogue and lasting legacy that makes him one of the greatest and most underappreciated emcees in hip-hop.