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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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Del Tha Funkee Homosapien: The Future Interview

You could call Del tha Funkee Homosapien a legend or an OG – if you like. He might not consider it high praise.

“It’s like they’re killing you,” he recently told SF Evergreen. “It’s like, ‘Oh, you’re an OG or a legend,’ it’s like you’ve been saved in time. I’m like, I’m still making new music.”

Admittedly, the Oakland-born hip-hop impresario and anchor member of the Hieroglyphics crew rose to fame when today’s listeners weren’t even born, releasing his first record at 18 — way back in 1990. But at 42, he’s rapping. he still – the on Hardly Strictly Bluegrass with SF’s own Dan the Automator, under the guise of their dystopian futuristic supergroup Deltron 3030 (accompanied by a string section) was considered by some to be the weekend’s performance – he’s still at it skateboarding, and he’s still touring the world.

Before touring Australia, Del will appear at the International Cannabis Business Conference at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco on February 15-16. Prior to that appearance, he took the time to talk to us about marijuana, living in the East Bay, dealing with the police in the age of black lives, music and much more.

Our 40 minute interview has been abbreviated and edited for clarity.

eg: What is your connection to marijuana?
DEL: Well, I personally don’t smoke or anything like that. I’m not against it – it’s a good thing doors are opening, there’s more awareness… it’s been demonized for so many years. There are a ton of other things that can fool you that are legal and that will tear you apart much, much, much more than boom would.

you feel me? Arresting people for weed or trying to chase people for smoking. If you let people drink alcohol, why are you tripping over it? It’s like that movie…

eg: Reefer madness?
DEL: Yes. My mother still thinks that way. But you know what? It’s not true. Drinking is worse than anything. You lose your motor skills, you are more inclined to do stupid things… I don’t see that with marijuana. And it helps people. It does have medicinal properties.

You won’t die if you smoke too much weed. Drinking too much alcohol will make you feel bad the next day. Maybe if you smoke shatter or something like that… but you need to smoke concentrated THC to the dome, feel me?

eg: Like dabbing.
DEL: Shatter dabs? I haven’t tried that. A+, he’s crazy about that.

eg: If we do, we’ll be broke the next day.
DEL: That’s why I don’t… But I’m definitely digressing with the vaporizer. We in the future. I sure do. I often smoked bidis, and when I heard this I asked, why am I smoking bidis? The flavors they come out with, the flavors, the juices, it’s just crazy. They have dope flavors, and when it comes out it’s vapor and not smoke. You can be chief in the hotel room, do you feel? And it’s comfortable. It’s not as bad as smoking smoke. I’m not saying it’s good for you, but it’s not smoking smoke.

eg: Can you tell from the crowd whether you are in a legal marijuana state or not?
DEL: You know what? Everywhere I go people smoke. Colorado may be a little more lenient, but just because it’s not legal somewhere doesn’t mean I look around and see idiots who don’t smoke.

eg: What is your history with the plant?
Share: When I was a kid I smoked and I found myself getting paranoid. That was before I realized you don’t have to smoke weed. I used to just feel like I had to be paranoid.

eg: So you don’t touch it anymore?
DEL: Ah, no. I smoked not long ago. I was with Hiero [the Hierogphylics crew] and I smoked with them. It just has to be a special occasion. I don’t really drink either – you know what I mean? I’m getting older now, I’m not really trying to party.

eg: Does it sometimes surprise you to see how much things have changed?
DEL: We live in the future.

eg: Like with Deltan 3030?
DEL: No, this is different. It is real. 3030 is not real. I remember watching the Jetsons as a kid. And now it’s like we’re here right now.

As for music, if you have a traditional wooden or metal instrument, the kids are like, ‘What’s that? No one will care about that.” It’s just all crazy noises and noises. That just proves that we’re living in the future.

eg: So what do you plan to do at the International Cannabis Business Conference next month?
DEL: I’m going to be in there, doing politics, talking to people, you know what I mean? I’ll let them know what I think about it. Entertaining, people pay attention to it. I’ll be there for you to touch me or talk to… And to draw attention to myself, of course.

eg: You and Automator blew a lot of people away with that Deltron set on Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Hip-hop is a difficult act to do live, and you…
DEL: The thing is, man: you’re going to do something that’s fun for people. You can get a DJ and it’s just her and a laptop, just her and maybe some light. And they rock it. It just depends on what you’re here to do, man.
I think a lot of hip-hop cats got lazy. Maybe there’s only about 50 people there, and they’re not really into it, they don’t want to be there, you feel? I think hip-hop as a genre has generally become lazy and comfortable.

eg: Are you focusing more on shows now that the way artists are paid in the music industry has changed so much?
DEL: I’ll just go in where I fit, dude. I just adapt. It’s like, whatever I have to do. I want people to hear my stuff. So now I do shows. Or I mix tape or something. My main thing now though, I’m working on the next big thing… Deltron is holding me back a bit.
Much of what I’ve done has been dealing with the changes in the industry. I’ve been working on marketing, I’ve focused on my brand.

eg: Social media!
DEL: I know everyone says this, it’s like a buzzword. But really, it’s about how people connect with you. And now all these people want to connect with you in all kinds of new ways.
And they expect to connect with the artist. And if you don’t, people will join elsewhere.

eg: What do you think of where music is going these days?
DEL: The main thing I like about music now is all those little electronic sounds, new sounds, new ways of making music. And it is fully accepted. It used to be weird stuff. You couldn’t get away with it and be successful. If you don’t have those sounds, there’s something wrong with you. If you have traditional instruments on your record, the kids are like, “What’s this?” It’s as if the blues were ours…. but that’s the only thing that’s really exciting for me. The kids still let me play with them. They might say, “Old man – get out of here, dude.”

eg: What are you listening to now?
DEL: D’Angelo, that’s the new joint I ran into, man. That’s a good album, man.

eg: He took his time.
DEL: I think he’s trying to prove a point, about the level of art that’s involved. So many times music has been turned into this mass product. It’s predictable and people get bored with it. D’Angelo proved that there are still people who are serious.
And that’s a record you buy. I don’t see how anyone could say, “Oh, I’m going to download that and throw it at it.” That’s the record you buy.

eg: Do you feel scammed by downloaders?
DEL: new. They made their point. Now most of these things come out for free anyway. Now you have to do your best to pirate something.

eg: How did life in the Black Lives Matter era affect you?
DEL: The police are just flying out. They have to cool it. Everyone needs to chill. The police trip over me.

eg: What happened?
DEL: I skated down the street near my house early in the morning one day. This is in Richmond. I can see this agent stopping in front of me. He’s stopped, waiting for me to cross, and then he stops me. “What are you doing? What are you doing with that sign?” I say, “Nothing, I’m riding it.” Then he says, “Well, you can’t ride this skateboard here. It’s illegal to skateboard in Richmond.” And I’m like stunned, so I pick up the sign and start to walk away, and he’s like, “Wait a minute, where are you going? I didn’t say you could move. Do you have your ID with you?” So I pull out my ID, he looks at it and he’s stunned at how old I am. I see he’s confused.

But man, he was young and he was black. And I thought, okay, you should be ashamed of falling off me like that. You know damn well you’re lying when you say it’s illegal to skate in this town. I skate here every day.

The police are like any other part of society – you have good people there, people who do bad work and people who are frustrated with their job. That doesn’t seem like the easiest job to do, and I can understand that. But again, you have a responsibility to the public if you are a police officer. You still have to maintain that. It’s no excuse for being appropriate to Wyle.

eg: What is the next step for you musically?
DEL: Me and Ladybug Mecca from Digable Planets, we have a group together. We’re called The Intellectual Project, we’re working on a record, trying to finish it, see if we can find a home for it, and get it out to the people. We’ll try to come out with that next time. Everyone says that, but really, that’s the point.

eg: You’re going to Australia to do some shows. Why Australia?
DEL: Australia is cool first and foremost. Australia is hella tight. They’re hip, you know what I mean? They have culture there.

eg: They like hip hop?
DEL: Oh yeah. Hip-hop culture is erupting all over the US.

eg: What happened to us?
DEL: We got a little sick of it or whatever… don’t get me wrong, people are still working on it. I just think they appreciate the music outside the country a bit more. It’s even more of a cultural thing. Here it is just the standard. It has become a product… we don’t value it as much as we used to.

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