Chances are, the latest LP from Hieroglyphics’ frontman, D-E-L, will not be the critics choice this year. Most people are stuck in a certain state of mind at the moment, and because of that, they really won’t be able to enjoy his latest LP. It even took yours truly a few listens of Both Sides Of The Brain, before I could get into it. What it boils down to, is getting back into the Del The Funkee Homosapien state of mind. You cannot enjoy this album without first prepping yourself, by going back and listening to I Wish My Brother George Was Here and No Need For Alarm again, because these days, nothing sounds like the shit Del is putting out.
Del’s kooky concepts are where the treats of this album lie. “If You Must” is a hilarious warning to all you stankin’ asses, where Del suggests “You better wash your ass / you better wash you hair / you better brush your teeth / or else you’ll be funky!” Also worth a few laughs is the brilliant “Soopa Feen”, the story of a notorious neighborhood crackhead hero whose “gotta a Garfield and Odie beach towel for a cape”. The three part “Pet Peeves” features even more complaints from Del, each time the beat changes, so does Del’s beef. Del lets it out on fake thugs, shit-talkers, blabbermouths, followers, and others, as the beat changes to reflect his anger. Hearing Del bitch is entertaining, written in a similar fashion as the third verse of “Check It Ooout” from his second LP.
Yet off key sample selections on tracks like “Fake As Fuck” and “Press Rewind” might turn off the casual listener, but longtime followers will love them for the same reason. Unfortunately, old style, party rockin’ Del production found on “Catch A Bad One”, and more recently “Hoe!” and Swollen Members’ “Left Field”, isn’t here. You don’t see Del getting loose on up-tempo underground anthems like these for some reason, and it’s too bad, as these types of tracks would have added a diversity to the album and better balanced it out. When the off-key noise of the majority of the album takes over, some listeners will be either bored or simply lost.
Nevertheless, the album has it’s joints, they are just hidden in between some lesser impressive tracks, and it takes a while to get off the ground. “Skull & Crossbones”, spit through the eyes of a drunk driver, is insane with its hook powered by Atari lasers being twisted and cut up, producing a crazy new rhythm. “Jaw Gymnastics” with Casual, is some of the harder shit – with dark and furious violins, yet is the only song of this type in its class. Guest producers turn up the heat a bit - “Offspring” produced by and featuring Company Flow’s El-P, packs the same madness that fueled Sir Menelik’s “Game Time”, while Prince Paul blesses Del with the funky painos on “Signature Slogans”.
The hardest thing to accept about Del’s new release is the lack of balance. When it’s good - it’s really enjoyable, but when it’s not, it’s a hard listen. It’s not easy to get a feeling of completion, especially with the lack of future classics that his older albums always had. Nevertheless, the core fans will enjoy the album for it’s scattered gems and hidden treasures, yet outsiders will walk on by.
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