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14 April, 2004@12:00 am

Compilation; no rating given

      Though the status of his crew is a bit up in the air right now, it’s difficult to imagine any underground hip-hop fans fronting on Del The Funkee Homosapien’s work in the early-to-mid-nineties. In this time period, Del and Hieroglyphics authored a number of classics that are still getting burn in the systems of true school rap heads, and it’s tough to take somebody seriously as a hip-hop conoisseur if they don’t have at least one Hiero record.

     With all of this information in mind, one has to wonder what the point is of picking up this new Best Of collection. The two Del albums that Elektra released are both arguably classic, and if you’re reading this review, you’ve probably heard both of them. But what’s so dope about this CD is that it isn’t an authentic Best Of album. For one thing, it only features music from Del’s Elektra catalogue, which spans the the years 1991 through 1994. Many people would consider this time period to be the prime of Del’s career. The other reason why this is a worthwhile album is that it doesn’t actually focus on showing the very best of Del. Instead, its focus is material that, for the most part, was not available on compact disc. There is a wealth of remixes and b-sides on this collection that only the most hardcore Heiro fan could match on vinyl– and now they don’t have to change records after every song.

     Those who are familiar with the incredible “Catch A Bad One” will be shocked by the funky, upbeat remix on this collection. While the theme of warning wack MCs of there inevitable doom remains, the only recognizable thread that connects this remix to the original is the “Who caught the harm?” hook. Yet another great thing about this compilation is the fact that so many of Del’s remixes bear little resemblance to the originals. When looking at the tracklist, one might as well consider these remixes to be all new joints.

     Also to be noted are the non-album original tracks. One of the highlights on this album is “Undisputed Champs”, which features Pep Love and Q-Tip flowing over a jazzy, blunted beat that sounds like a combination of Madlib and Scott LaRock. Del and Pep Love most certainly come through, but Q-Tip steals the show, flowing marvelously over the production and dropping lyrics like, “You’re babbling, you’re babbling, son, what the fuck? / Anybody can grab the gun and go buck / But can you grab the mic and kick ill shit? / Stun them with the verbs instead of using clips?” “Missing Link” is another cool track, though it is probably the most novelty track on the Best Of album. The alternative rock band Dinosaur, Jr. provides the backdrop for Del’s rhymes complete with background vocal harmonies and guitar solos. It may not be the tightest track musically, but nobody can say that “Missing Link” isn’t fun.

     Having been in the game for over ten years, Del’s sound has become synonymous with West Coast underground hip-hop to many fans. His witty, offbeat lyrics and his unique vocal style are difficult to hate on, and Heiro production rarely falters. Every track on The Best Of Del is dope as hell, making it a must-buy for any underground head, whether as a supplement to an already sizeable collection, or as an introduction to him.

  Mixtape D.L.
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