Del the Funky Homosapien wrapped up his current tour at the Riot Room Saturday. He treated a jampacked house to an evening of fresh rhymes, oddball beats and bizarre lyrics, reminding everyone there that there really isn't anyone in hip-hop like Del.
Del started off just after midnight with one of his Hieroglyphics tracks, "At the Helm", quickly getting the crowd involved with a quick sing-along at the end. His group included MC Bukue One and DJ Zac Hendrix, each of whom played a big part in creating a sound that was exceptionally faithful to the album cuts. "Catch a Bad One," from 1993's No Need for Alarm, set the audience in full head-bob mode as Del and Bukue recited each line with precision. I'm sure Del has done that one to death, but it definitely has held up well over the past 18 years.
The set then went back even further, with "Dr. Bombay" from Del's very first album, the Ice Cube-produced I Wish My Brother George Was Here. It's been 20 years since that record came out, and the fact that Del is still doing tracks from it is just a reflection of how good that early stuff is. I've read that Del wasn't happy with how that album turned out, but his dancing and enthusiasm onstage during "Bombay " and "Mistadobalina" showed that he isn't averse to performing the material.
Bukue apparently caught a whiff of some cigarette smoke, at which point he informed the audience of the group's one rule: Don't smoke cigarettes right in front of the stage. He jokingly followed it with the exception to that rule, saying that not all the smoke he detected was a problem. The next selection got a little more current, with "Foot Down" from Eleventh Hour, and a shift into a mishmash of '90s party samples. It got a little cheesy and strange, but it was still fun to watch Del and Bukue taking turns on verses over samples of "Today Was a Good Day" and "The Roof Is on Fire."
One number from Del's self-released Funk Man album was included, "Get It Right Now." It's a decent track, but it just didn't stand out like most of the others. He followed it with an odd interlude of gunshot sound effects coming from Hendrix's console; Hendrix pretended to shoot; Del and Bukue ducked out of the way. What exactly the point was was unclear. Maybe they were just poking fun at ridiculous production and urban-violence trends in hip-hop. It didn't last too long, and then the guys launched into the catchy "If You Must." I was surprised that this was the night's only track from Both Sides of the Brain, but it was certainly a monster. Del's over-the-top vocals and crazy dancing were the highlights, as well as the relentless bass line that I'm sure people heard at least a block away. If there was one song in the night's set that got everyone in the building involved, this was it.
Del was clearly tired afterward, putting down the microphone and leaning against a speaker for a minute. Bukue made a mention of "The Humpty Dance," and Hendrix humored him with the beat from the Digital Underground track. Bukue's impression of Humpty Hump for a few verses was actually pretty entertaining, giving the crowd and even Del a laugh. It was just after 1 a.m., and Bukue announced that they were winding down for the night. I think everyone was a little surprised, but the energy and quality of the music were substantial enough that I didn't mind that much. Bukue went on to thank Kansas City and gave a quick plug to Tech N9ne, and also even mentioned Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel (although the context on that wasn't too clear).
Hendrix kicked off the beat to the night's closer, "Clint Eastwood," a Gorillaz anthem that seemed to take everyone by surprise. I certainly didn't expect him to perform that track, maybe because it's hard to imagine Gorillaz material being done by anyone but the whole group. That being said, Bukue did a nice job of filling in on Damon Albarn's vocal, and Del worked through his signature verses flawlessly. It was a great choice to end the show and certainly softened the blow of only having a one-hour set.
Bonus: I noticed this Twitter message via his website on Sunday:
Del aka SirDzl:
#KcMO was live. Sold out @riotroom for the final show of the MidFresh Tour, that's love. Peace to everybody in the Midwest that held us down.