Del The Funky Homosapien - The 11th Hour DVD Review
by Patrick Muldowney
The 11th Hour DVD is a concermentary which alternates between Del's live performances and snippets of his everyday life. While still a teenager, Del was all over early 90s MTV with hits like "Mistadobalina" and "Dr. Bombay", raps that I immediately recalled verbatim even though it had been over a dozen years since last listen. Del was also the rapper on "Clint Eastwood" by Gorillaz, one of the most popular songs in the past decade. It is odd how anonymous an animated group can keep its contributors, considering that track did not provide renewed commercial notoriety for Del. Even stranger is a conversation captured during the filming of The 11th Hour, and featured as an extra, in which The Funky Homosapien admits he had no clue "Clint Eastwood" was a hit (he didn't really want to do it) and was confused when people kept telling him he was on the radio. He also admits that he was struggling a bit economically at the time, and that helped him pay some bills, which is one of the major reasons this DVD is a must watch, especially for aspiring musicians.
This DVD is in no way attempting to make Del look down and out, and he is not, but he is living a basic existence, like most Americans, which is a greater reality than the Cribs life fans are led to believe exists in the music world. From the documentary part of the movie, there is no evidence that Del mismanaged or misspent his many riches from his hits, his only vices being weed, candy, and video games, which are not expensive habits by Hollywood standards, but there is evidence that he never saw near the money he earned. He lives in a small, inconspicuous house in the Oakland area with barely any furniture, small screen television, and a lot of recording equipment (added up may be worth more than house), but even still most of the equipment are personal recording devices we could pick up in a local store. You get to witness a man who made millions for Elektra in the 90s, and millions for Gorillaz in 2000, eat Broccoline at the local supermarket (where a women is getting cuffed as he leaves), fix his plugged sink, and play DragonBallZ on a 14-inch TV, mixed in with performances for packed houses and interviews by the likes of Sway. I might guess that Del, even though his cousin Ice Cube helped him, signed a deal with Elektra that looked great to a teenager, but was poor in retrospect. Then, when "Clint Eastwood" came about, he didn't push for the money he deserved because he didn't think much of the project. Whatever the actual circumstances, this DVD proves that the music industry is not necessarily a cash cow, even for those who show repeated success.
The movie, which lasts about an hour, opens with a live performance before transforming into a cartoon explaining the history of Del The Funky Homosapien. This background provides an effective introduction into the documentary part, which is the true value of the movie. The recordings of his live performances sound like they're straight from the soundboard, and these result in muddy and muffled vocals for a good part of each song, especially when Del and his Hieroglyphic counterpart mix together. Other than his herb habit and his general lack of health (eyes yellowish), Del presents himself in very positive and human frame. His dedication to music is apparent based on his understanding that the only way to advance and become consistent as a rapper is through knowledge of musical theory. This is also shown through his constant attachment to the recording process, where he implements theory. His life is music, which he has even incorporated into his love of gaming through numerous appearances on soundtracks. Issues seem to derail him at times, like the girlfriend you don't see, although you do see her butcher knife coming through his door. Yet, this is one of those "kind of funny, kind of freaky" moments in Del's life, which he transcends.
The bonus materials include interviews (see Gorillaz above), extra live tracks, live appearances, and slide shows with pictures from talented photographers. All of the bonus stuff, other than the trailers, is worth a gander, as is an honest look at a respectable, original artist who is a seasoned veteran (over half his life in industry) of the rap game at 34. The 11th Hour DVD may not be the best way to own high quality live recordings of Del The Funky Homosapien, but it is one of the better ways to see the dedication and intelligence necessary just to carve out an existence in music founded on integrity.
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