My last post was for Black Sheep’s debut album A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing, I mentioned that one of the reasons they named the group Black Sheep was because they felt like the awkward outcasts of the Native Tongues. Consequentially, today’s subject can be considered the black sheep of his team as well.
Hailing from Oakland, California, Del tha Funkee Homosapien is the younger cousin of O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson, who by 1991 was arguably the king of west coast hip-hop. It might be hard to believe that the guy who makes family movies was once considered the hardest gangsta rappers in the game. After Cube dropped 4 niggas and started making all the dough in his solo career, he was kind enough to come back and put his little cousin on. Del signed a deal with Elektra and in the fall of 1991 released his debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here, which was an homage to the Godfather of P-Funk, George Clinton, who would also have a big influence on how the album sounded sonically as well.
When it comes to style, Del is the ying to Ice Cube yang. Where Cube is brash, mad and violent, Del is subdue, humble, and peaceful. He’s kind of like a hip-hop hippy. Or, the black sheep in his hardcore crew.
I Wish My Brother George Was Here didn’t move a ton of units (shocker) but it did receive solid reviews, laying the ground work for what would become a solid career for Del, and allow him to introduce his Hieroglyphics crew to the world a few years later.
What Is A Booty – After several listens to this song I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Del’s wish to have George Clinton participate on the album grows to desperate measures on this opening track as he recruits a bootleg impersonator who spills gobs of nonsense in the form of a poem before Del comes in and spits one forgettable verse. The song closes with a bunch of chanting before fading to black. Okay, now it’s suddenly becoming clear. I don’t like this song.
Mistadobalina – This was the second single from I Wish My Brother George Was Here. This song was extremely annoying back in the day and I’m sticking with my feelings today. This song is dedicated to all the snakes, fakes, and backstabbers. No new ground is covered here, just an unusual song title. The instrumental sounds like a bunch of noise, which is so annoying it distracts you from really paying attention to Del’s rhymes.
The Wacky World Of Rapid Transit – These are the kind of hip-hop songs that I miss in hip-hop’s current climate. With humility, Del relives the trials and tribulations of riding the public transit bus. It was kind of funny to hear one of Del’s bus hecklers call him a “De La Soul such and such”. Del samples a Donald Byrd record that translates into a strong instrumental that complements Del’s rhymes well.
Pissin’ On Your Steps – Del takes a jab at a little bit of everybody on this one. He whips it out and gives golden showers to Hammer and Vanilla Ice (two common victims of verbal abuse in the early nineties), then pulls it out again to yellow the shoes of De La Soul (“I’m rather mellow, some call it lazy, me and myself and I aint with the daisies…I’m no goddamn flower…”), which I find ironic since his style sounds like he could be the president of the Native Tongue west coast chapter. I wonder what his beef was with De La. Regardless, as my west coast brethren would say, the instrumental is hella funky and the song is pretty entertaining.
Dark Skin Girls – Del is an avid believer in the saying “the darker the berry the sweeter the juice” as he praises the dark skin sisters on this one. Actually, its more of a dis to light skin sisters as he spends the majority of his verses dissing red bones who must have dissed him several 100 times in the past, as he comes off sounding bitter. The instrumental is decent, so is the song overall.
Money For Sex – Del uses this one to declare he will never ever give up his money to get a piece from gold-diggers or hookers (which can also be one in the same). I love the Donald Byrd trumpet sample on the hook. This was solid.
Ahonetwo Ahonetwo – Del sounds right at home on this one as he spills sharp bars over an instrumental that somehow manages to sound funky and smooth at the same time. Well done.
Prelude – Or “Interlude”.
Dr. Bombay – I believe this was the third and final single released from I Wish My Brother George Was Here. I didn’t care for this one back in the day, either. 20 plus years later, its semi tolerable.
Sunny Meadowz – This might be my favorite song on the entire album. Del’s in a casual battle mode and again takes a jab at Hammer. Del sounds decent enough but the slightly drunken mid-tempo instrumental with an understated horn sample is the true star of this track.
Sleepin’ On My Couch – This was the first single released from I Wish My Brother George Was Here. Del hi-lariously vents at all his buddies that take advantage of him by over staying their welcome at his house. This was decent, easily the strongest of the three singles released from I Wish My Brother George Was Here.
Hoodz Come In Dozens – Del warns the listener to keep an eye out for those hoods looking to snatch your goods, and if you do get got he humbly instructs you to give up the goods because life is worth more than your material possessions. This funky instrumental sounds like something Sir Jinx would have hooked up for Cube back in the day.
Same Ol’ Thing – Del and his nameless guests use this one to address the biting emcees that keep recycling the same ideas. He also manages to sneak in another jab at Vanilla Ice. This song couldn’t be more relevant today. Too bad the instrumental is boring as hell.
Ya Lil’ Crumbsnatchers – This one starts out with Cube having a conversation with his boy in which he confirms that Del is his cousin, then proceeds to dis him. A decent instrumental then drops (its worth noting this is the third song on the album that samples the Donald Byrd record “Street Lady”, and all three songs manage to have their own identity) and Del delivers a decent verse. And just like that, I Wish My Brother George Was Here comes to an end.
Del’s humble-everyday-Joe approach on I Wish My Brother George Was Here is a refreshing change of pace from a west coast emcee. It’s worth noting, I don’t think he caught a single body on the entire album. Instead he spends most of the album discussing very normal experiences and dissing Hammer and Vanilla Ice (and occasionally De La Soul). There are a handful of songs that work well on I Wish My Brother George Was Here, but the majority of the album suffers from forgettable production, and even worse, that horrible “Mistadobalina” song. Not a great album, but it showed the potential that Del would eventually grow into.