Born Teren Delvon Jones, Del the Funky Homosapien is an acclaimed Bay Area-born and -based emcee and producer, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he wrote lyrics for his cousin Ice Cube‘s group Da Lench Mob, which initially included the legendary West Coast emcee, filmmaker, screenwriter and movie star before they broke off into a distinct group of its own.
With the assistance of his cousin Ice Cube, Del released his 1991 solo debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here, an album that was a commercial successful largely due to the popularity of album single “Mistadobalina.” Del wasn’t pleased with the limited musical range of the album and severed his production-artist relationship with Ice Cube for his sophomore album No Need for Alarm, an album that introduced the Oakland hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics, which featured Souls of Mischief, Casual, Pep Love, Del and producer Domino while bringing the Oakland sound to a larger audience. Interestingly, the album is also considered instrumental for expanding what would become the freestyle-based golden era of hip-hop.
Although Del didn’t produce another solo album for about five years, he collaborated on the Hieroglyphics crew’s 1998 debut 3rd Eye Vision; however, by the time he was about to release his third solo album Future Development, his label Elektra Records terminated his contract. Initially, the album was only available as a cassette through the Hieroglyphics website before being re-releassd through the Hieroglyphics Imperium label in 2002; but before that, he collaborated with Dan the Automator and Kid Koala in hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030 and their critically applauded, 2000 self-titled debut and along with his Deltron 3030 collaborators on two singles on Gorillaz‘s eponymous, smash hit 2001 self-titled debut — “Clint Eastwood” and “Rock the House.” He followed that up with his fourth solo album Both Sides of the Brain, and Hieroglyphics 2003 sophomore effort Full Circle.
Since then Del has managed to be incredibly prolific releasing albums both through tradition labels, as free downloads and with pay-as-you-wish efforts with specific incentives for those who pay certain prices for the album, including a chance to collaborate with Del in the studio and so on.
Amp Live is a Texas-born, California-based producer and DJ, who is known as one of half to the hip-hop duo Zion I, and for critically applauded remixes of material by Radiohead, Tokyo Police Club and Jamie Lidell. And as a solo artist, he’s released two albums and an EP — 2010’s Murder at the Discotech, 2014’s Headphone Concerto and 2017’s Atmosphere EP and 2011’s Therapy at 3, a collaborative effort with Eligh.
Interestingly, Del and Amp Live will be teaming up on the forthcoming album Gate 13, an album that sonically draws from and mixes hip-hop, funk and electronica while finding two of hip-hop’s most inventive artists collaborating with Goapele, Eligh, Simi, Zyme, Adult Karate, Mr. Micro and James Melo, essentially creating a “portal into something progressive, futuristic, and fun,” as the duo says in press notes. Interestingly, the album finds the renowned emcee evolving his imitable style, as he studied both comedy and battle rap, with Del making a concerted effort towards conciseness. “I told Amp about it, and he kind of showed me what his interpretation of what that would be,” Del says in press notes. “When I heard it, I thought it was tight. I didn’t even know he was going to do it.” Amp Live adds “Del has been talking about doing more straightforward, aggressive writing. Everything that I was messing with kind of had the same theme,” the producer says of the album’s tracks. “Even when I flipped them after, I tried to stay true to the original feeling.”
“Wheel of Fortune,” Gate 13‘s first single begins with a thumping, boom-bap beats and arpeggiated synths and Del’s imitable flow, complete with some of the most ridiculous word play, complex rhyme schemes and insanely funny punch lines you’ll hear in some time, as he throws massive haymakers at any and all who dare to battle him. About halfway through the track Amp Live drops a dub reggae break, which he follows with a manic tempo — and throughout Del effortlessly and dexterously handles it in a free flowing, almost mischievous fashion. Dope emcees being challenged by dope producers is what all hip-hop should aspire to, no matter what the era.