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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In Print: the Subversive Beauty of tUnE-yArDs, Del the Funky Homosapien's Trip to Hip-Hop's Past, and More

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs
  • Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs
From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

On tUnE-yArDs: Welcome to the edge of experimental pop in 2011. Garbus has just seen the release of tUne-yArDs' second album, w h o k i l l, which seems all but certain to accelerate her rise from DIY curiosity into one of the most interesting artists making music today. She has gone from playing small house shows across the country to opening for Dirty Projectors, performing in front of 17,000 at the Hollywood Bowl, selling a song for a BlackBerry commercial, and getting noticed by The New York Times and Rolling Stone. She's thrilled about it, of course, but along the way, the socially conscious Connecticut native has ruminated deeply over every move -- from even deciding to concentrate on her art at all, in lieu of, say, becoming a doctor or a pro bono lawyer ("It's something very recent for me to be like, you know what? Forgive yourself, you have to do this"), to allowing herself to exhibit her love for African music: "When I started tUne-yArDs ... I made a decision to forgive myself for what sounds were coming out," she says. "When I give my influences, I give who they really are: I took this yodeling style from Central Africa, and I took this chordal harmonic sense from Hukwe Zawose in Tanzania. It seems like a tightrope walk of sorts, because one could accuse me of political correctness in the same breath as thievery of African musical traditions."

Del the Funky Homosapien
  • Del the Funky Homosapien
Del the Funky Homosapien Remembers the Golden Era: South Central Los Angeles, 1987: Teren Delvon Jones was staying at his aunt's house, visiting his cousin, O'Shea Jackson, whose rap name was Ice Cube. Across the street, Jones noticed somebody playing with a remote-controlled car in a driveway. He ambled over, started a conversation, and found out that the man was a DJ and producer by the name of Sir Jinx. Jinx, it turned out, had a cousin rhyming under the name Dr. Dre who was already working on music with Ice Cube. With another member named Kid Disaster, the two were in a group called C.I.A. -- a project that eventually morphed into N.W.A. At the time, Jones had his own aspirations of becoming a rapper. As he remembers it, "I impressed Sir Jinx with my rapping because he was so amazed that I could write raps so quickly and so dope. He never worked with anyone that prolific -- that got him hella juiced, and he started working with me exclusively." This relationship kick-started a 20-year-strong recording career for Jones as Del the Funky Homosapien, who went on to find significant solo success and, later, as the voice of the character Russel Hobbs in Damon Albarn's semicartoon group Gorillaz.

Also, we recommend shows from the Go! Team, Kurt Vile, and Lil B.

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