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The Future Is Real: Del Tha Funkee Homosapien on Marijuana Politics, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and More 

Thursday, Feb 5 2015
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Note: This interview has been edited and condensed. A longer version originally appeared in one of SF Weekly's sister publications, SF Evergreen. Visit it online at sfevergreen.com.

You could call Del tha Funkee Homosapien an OG if you want, but he might not take it as high praise. "It's sort of like they're killing you," he says. "It's like, 'Oh, you an OG or a legend,' it's like you're preserved in time. I'm like, I'm still making new music."

True, the Oakland-born hip-hop impresario and anchor member of the Hieroglyphics crew released his first record at 18, way back in in 1990. But at 42, he's still rapping — his set at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass with S.F.'s own Dan the Automator, in the guise of their futuristic supergroup Deltron 3030, was considered by many the performance of the weekend — and he's still skateboarding; he's still touring the world.

Before heading to tour in Australia, Del will appear at the International Cannabis Business Conference at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco Feb. 15-16. Ahead of that appearance, he took time to talk with us about marijuana, living in the East Bay, dealing with police in the Black Lives Matter era, and more.

Evergreen: What's your connection to marijuana?

Del tha Funkee Homosapien: Well, I don't personally smoke or anything like that. I'm not opposed to it — it's a good thing doors are opening up, there's more awareness ... it's been demonized for so many years. There's a lot of other stuff you can fool with that's legal that will tear you up way, way, way more than boom would. You feel me? Arresting people for weed or trying to chase down people for smoking — if you're allowing people to drink liquor, why are you tripping off of this?

Can you tell from the crowd if you're in a legal marijuana state or not?

You know what? Everywhere I go, people are smoking. Colorado may be a little bit more mellow, maybe, but just because it's not legal somewhere doesn't mean I'm looking around and seeing fools not smoking.

Does it surprise you sometimes to see how much things have changed?

We're living in the future.

Like with Deltron 3030?

No, this is different. It's real. 3030 ain't real. I remember watching the Jetsons when I was a kid. And now it's like, we here now. As far as music's concerned, if you have any traditional wooden or metal instrument, the kids are like, "What is that? That ain't gonna captivate nobody." It's just all crazy noises and sounds. That just proves we're living in the future.

You and Automator blew a lot of people away with that Deltron set at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

You gonna do something that's gonna be entertaining for people. You can get a DJ and it's just them and a laptop, just them and maybe some light. And they're rocking it. It just depends on what you're there to do, man. I think a lot of hip-hop cats got lazy. Maybe there's only like 50 people there, and they're not really into it, they don't want to be there, feel me? I think in general hip-hop as a genre has gotten lazy and comfortable.

Do you focus more on shows now that the way artists get paid in the music industry has changed so much?

I just get in where I fit in. I just adapt. I want people to hear my stuff. So right now, I do shows. Or I'll do a mix tape or something. My main thing now though, I'm working on the next big thing ... Deltron is sort of holding me over. A lot of what I've been doing is wrapping my head around the changes in the industry. I've been working on marketing, I've been concentrating on my brand.

...[but] the main thing I like about music now is all these little electronic sounds, new sounds, new ways of making music. And it's fully accepted. Before it was some weirdo stuff. You couldn't get away with it and be successful. Now if you don't have them sounds, something's wrong with you. If you have traditional instruments on your record, the kids are like, "What's this?" It's like the blues was for us.... but that's the one thing that's really exciting for me. The kids will still allow me to play with them. They could be like, "Old man – get out of here, dude."

What are you listening to now?

D'Angelo, that's the new joint I'm bumping. That's a good album, man.

He took his time.

I think he's trying to prove a point about the level of art that's involved in it. So many times, music's been turned into this mass-produced product. It's predictable and people are bored with it. D'Angelo proved that people that are serious about it are still out here.

How has living in the Black Lives Matter era affected you?

Police are just wyling out. Everybody needs to chill out. Police be tripping off me ... I was skating down the street early in the morning one day, right by my house. This is in Richmond. I see this officer pull up in front of me. He's pulled over, waiting for me to cross, and then he stops me. "What are you doing with that board?" I say, "Nothing, I'm riding on it." Then he says, "Well, you can't ride this skateboard around here. It's illegal to ride a skateboard in Richmond." And I'm like baffled. So I pick the board up and start to walk away, and he says, "Wait a minute, where are you going? I didn't say you could move. You got your ID on you?" So I pull out my ID, he looks at it, and he's like stunned at how old I am. I can tell he's confused.

But dude, he was young and he was black. And I was like, okay — you gotta be ashamed of yourself to be tripping off of me like this. You know damn well you're lying to say it's illegal to skate in this town. I skate here every day.

The police are just like any other part of society — you got good people in there, people that do bad jobs, and people frustrated with they jobs. That don't seem like the easiest job to do, and I can understand that. But then again, you do got a responsibility to the public when you are a police officer. You still gotta uphold that. It's no excuse to be fitting to wyle out.

What's the next move for you musically?

Me and Ladybug Mecca from Digable Planets, we got a group together. We're called The Intellectual Project, we're working on a record, trying to wrap it up, see if we can find a home for it, get it out to the people.

You're going to Australia to do some shows. Why Australia?

Australia is cool, first of all. Australia is hella tight. They hip, you know what I'm saying? They got culture down there.

They're into hip-hop?

Oh yeah. Anywhere outside of the U.S., hip-hop culture be popping.

What happened to us?

We kind of got sick of it or whatever ... don't get me wrong, people are still into it. I just think they appreciate the music a little bit more out of the country. It's still more of a cultural thing. Here, it's just the default. It's devolved into a product ... we don't appreciate it as much as we used to.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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