20 years ago yesterday, Del the Funky Homosapien released his classic album No Need for Alarm. Unfortunately I didn’t listen to this album until almost 10 years after it’s original release. This album had a major impact on me when I first heard it, because prior to hearing it, I was strictly only into East-coast Hip Hop like Mobb Deep (Prodigy was my favorite MC at the time, but he was slippin badly.), Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Cormega, Gang Starr, and all that shit. Hearing this album was so different for me though, I had never really paid much attention to alternative hip hop at the time, because I liked the more harder and edgier street oriented hip hop, but hearing this I dug the rhymes, topics, production and I could relate to them more.
Before hearing this album I had actually heard of Del the Funky Homospien from conversations with people in passing, and I was familiar with Hieroglyphics song "You Never Knew", when it came out in the late 90s, but like I said I wasn’t really into that type of style. It was a girl I was dating back in 2004, who introduced me to Del’s music. Her name was Celeste, and she definitely influenced me a great deal musically and personally. She listened to a lot of different shit, and was the first girl to make me realize it was cool to be black and different. But anyway, one day Celeste and I were in the mall walking around bored I’m sure, and we walked into Spencer’s, and they were playing this funky old school hip hop record, and she got super excited, and yells out, “Oh my God, they’re playing Del the Funky Homosapien’s Mistadoblina!!!” I’m in shock from her excitement, and I ask her who is Del the Funky what, and she explains who he is, and I immediately dismiss him because his name, and he was rapping about weird shit lol. As the months went by she would mention Del sometimes, and talk about how dope he was, and how her and her older sister would get stoned to his music, and as always I would dismiss him. Well eventually Celeste and I broke up, because she had moved back to Savanna, GA, and we stopped speaking. Well Christmas comes around, and my oldest brother buys me a Napster card, where I had access to all types of music for like 3 months. At that point, a lot of things I had observed and learned from Celeste had started to sink in with me (I missed her, and it took us breaking up for me to really appreciate how unique she was), and the first album I downloaded on Napster was Del’s albums I Wish My Brother George Was Here (1991)and No Need For Alarm(1993). Since No Need For Alarm came out in 1993, and that was a period of time in hip hop I already knew I enjoyed, I listened to that album first, and was immediately blown away by his wild energy, lyricism, and the dark jazz sampled boom bap production. I remember listening to the album whenever I was at my computer, but since the album was only available on my computer through that Napster software, I couldn’t listen to it on my CD player, Minidisc player (young cats might not know about that lol), or car, so I’d only listen when I was at the computer). After a while I went out looking for that album around different CD stores in San Antonio, and I could only find a copy of Del’s fourth album Both Sides of the Brain (2000). I bought it, and as soon as I got in my car, I put the CD in my player to listen, and I remember thinking, this album is weird as fuck, I’m not feeling it, dude is talking about people needing to shower, video games, fiends, and other shit. I listened to the album a few more times, but put it away, because I just wasn’t feeling it. Around that time Celeste and I started talking again, and I told her how I got into Del’s music, but wasn’t feeling his album Both Sides of the Brain, and I was planning to mail the CD to her. At that time I was fuckin’ with Kanye West’s College Dropout (2004) album heavy, and I decided to take that CD out the player and listen to Del’s CD again to make sure I still wasn’t feeling it, and it was like all of a sudden I was feeling the hell out of that CD. I loved everything Del was doing, and I appreciated how weird it was. I told Celeste I was keeping the CD now, and then after a few weeks I was in a Best Buy and found a copy of No Need for Alarm! I bought that copy, and immediately was hooked on the album. I heard it completely different while listening to it in my car, and had it in my player for like 6 straight months. Like I said earlier, his energy on the records was wild, I loved his lyrical attack on the tracks, and the dark jazz sampled production was so dope. Also, I think since he was about 20 to 21 when he was recorded the album, and I was about 19 to 20 when I first listened to it, I could relate to a lot of things he was talking about. Eventually I started to look up the Hieroglyphics collective, and other alternative rappers/rap groups, like A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Pharcyde, De La Soul (not that I wasn’t really listening to them, I just hadn’t really dug into them).
Some stand out tracks from No Need for Alarm:
Del signing my No Need for Alarm CD Insert in 2008.
No Need for Alarm is a very special album for me, it was that album that would forever change the way I heard hip hop. Like I said before I was strictly a East-Coast hip hop lover, and I had heard some of the alternative rap acts, but never paid much attention, because I thought they were a little soft. During my late teens and early 20s, I became obsessed with Del and Hieroglyphics, and would buy all their merch from the websites, memorized most of Del’s lyrics, and owned pretty much every Hieroglyphics album. Still to this day I consider Del in my top 5 MCs of all time, and the influence of his work still affects me to this day, because since hearing No Need for Alarm, I have a much deeper appreciation for alternative and underground hip hop, and I think Del (along with my ex girlfriend Celeste), helped me to embrace who I really was, because for a while when I was younger, I was trying to fake like I was a thug.
This was my second time seeing Del perform live, but first time meeting him in Austin, TX, 2008. I believe I was 23 in this picture. Funny, I was like one of 4 black guys at that show lol. This was only my second Del show because 2004-2007, I kept missing all of Del’s shows, from getting days mixed up, or not being able to get time off work to see him. So finally seeing him live, and then eventually meeting him was such a big deal for me. I remember slightly shaking, and nervously talking to him about his music.
When it comes to music I can talk all day about it, so I’ll go ahead and end this. But if you haven’t heard this album, or any of Del’s work, make some time to check him out, he’s got some real nice shit. Even the newest Deltron album surprisingly ain’t half bad.
P.S. Be on the look out for my post on the 20th anniversary of Tevin Campbell’s album I’m Ready lol.