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Friday, November 22, 2013

From '93 Til: Del Tha Funkee Homosapien's No Need For Alarm

Posted By on Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM

[You could argue that 1993 was the most formative period for West Coast rap music, especially when it came to the Bay Area. Definitive lists and superlatives aside, we're just gonna take you on a trip. Every week, From '93 Til will dig up something that came out of the Bay Area roughly around the same time, 20 years ago.]

"I'm out on the town I don't frown at people / 'cuz they tend to get offended and then the heat will / be on my ass I got class never out of line / cuz I am standing here without the nine / pistols I wish will not blast me / TAZ be circlin' corners, looking for Warners / you know the brothers, me and you / we didn't do shit but we get hassled, because we crew."

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien's second album, No Need For Alarm, came out on Nov. 23, 1993, about two months after he appeared on Souls of Mischief's debut and only a few months before fellow Hierogplyhics member Casual dropped Fear Itself. It was a prolific and establishing time for the Oakland crew, and Del's record, like most of what Del has done, stuck out oddly in the pack.

No Need For Alarm was both a departure and an arrival for Hieroglyphics' most staid, independent member. Del, who has worked for the most part with his cousin Ice Cube to on his 1991 debut, was eager to do something weirder and more expansive, and always shied away from the affiliation with the ex-N.W.A. rapper (hell, even Fab 5 Freddy couldn't figure out exactly what Del wanted). No Need ditched the P-Funk samples in favor of more obscure soul and pop loops and spare, cool production. Del also left behind the derivative raps of his debut, embracing his own malleable, versatile, polymer flow that he became famous for. And with nearly a four-year gap between No Need For Alarm and his next release, it was all fans had to go on for a long time.

"Basically, all this gangster stuff is depressing," Del said in an unedited interview from around this time in 1993. Del was patently weird, and he rested comfortably in that zone. He became not only a trademark piece of the Hieroglyphics puzzle, but determinedly steered his crew to be different. "Basically yeah, it's all about lyrical skill," he went on, "My album is really not for people who don't want to listen to lyrics. If you want something cut and dry, easy like "Whoomp, There It Is" or something, don't even buy my record, 'cuz it's not that simple."

Del's eccentric qualities notwithstanding, he was still able to reel in universal themes and do narrative, weighing in on life's most persistent concerns: "Wack M.C.'s," "Boo Booheads," "Wrong Place." Del was becoming a master of the mid-stanza hook, making every line feel like it couldn't be complete without the next one, which stretched a single thought into a verse-long rumination.

-- @willkbutler

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