Free-flows on Music, Money and Good Karma
Ni’Ja Whitson sat down with Del the Funky Homosapien before
his show at the ’Sco Wednesday night to chat about his inspirations
and aspirations for the future.
With everything going on in hip-hop right now and what we hear on
the radio and see on television, someone could definitely say that
your music is in a much higher place. For you, why do you make the
music you make?
Compulsion. That’s probably the first reason besides a need
to be noticed. But, I also feel like I got somethin’ to say
to people. Through that and the other attributes I guess that makes
me do it. It’s pretty much an impulse — I just happen
to get paid for it. But they say that if you want to be in the music
business it’s gotta be like that, otherwise you thinkin’
it’s easy money or somethin’ and it may not work out
like that. So I would still be doing it regardless of whether or
not I was getting paid for it. But, lately I’ve been realizing
more that it’s really to entertain people; it ain’t
the other way around. You know how a lot of artists start to get
the poof head. I try to avoid that and keep it on a level where
I know that I am performing for people and trying to give them what
they want and at the same time try to say something meaningful as
well. That balance is what I work on a lot, daily actually.
Going along with that and not that there is one thing, but what
would be the thing that you want your audience to get from your
music? What do you want to give to them?
Think basically. That is probably the main objective or the main
thing that I’m trying to get across. Just to be able to think.
To have determination. I was going to say positivity, but that’s
kinda corny and I’m not really like that. I mean I try to
be positive, but I feel like I’m a pretty harsh person, you
know what I’m saying? So I try to put effort into being more
positive. Hopefully that kinda shines through cause I do a lot of
complaining and stuff, you know, just talking smack or whatever
so maybe people can see through that and through me finding some
kind of solution through making music or just processing it —
maybe they can get something out of that. If they don’t, I’m
starting to get to the point where I can make music and people can
just enjoy it for face value alone. They don’t have to be
hella into the flex in the lyrics or how intricate this beat is.
I’m starting to move more away from that and getting more
composition and composing.
What got you into this; how did you begin?
A love of poetry. So that grew into when rap came out I started
gettin’ into that. Then just music in general I just kind
of gravitated towards. It has always been my house, has always been
a part of my life. But now I am really starting to get into it because
of the different levels that you can be involved in it. So I am
really more into composing, reading and writing music and studying
music theory. Black music from point A to wherever it’s going
to lead to. Just that whole thing just hella intrigues me. But I’ve
always been kind of conscious minded and into my past; knowing my
history and stuff like that. So to see that it’s a rich kind
of thing with music as well is really appealing to me, you know.
So that’s the main thing. But I guess like I said, I like
attention. That really has a lot to do with it. ‘Cause it’s
a lot of different stress levels that I have to deal with, so I
don’t know if I would be able to do it if it wasn’t
Does the stress at all or just being Del — a person that people
recognize — does that change at all for you what you’re
doing? Does it make it more difficult?
You know, the stress comes more from inside the industry than it
do from people that listen to my stuff. That’s dealing with
what they think I should say, or feel I should do or whatever. Those
every once in a while different types that just be on one, just
off the hook. But, as far as fans and stuff, that’s all love.
’Cause I try to be just myself and a lot of times people can
appreciate that. Sometimes they don’t like me, but I feel
that’s not that often.
The stress level comes mainly from dealing with the business aspect,
which is a little bit harsher because it’s damn near like
highway robbery; it ain’t no rules. I mean, that goes for
business as far as the corporate world anyway, but in music it’s
damn near like the mob. The music industry is starting to eat itself
now. So, I’m thinking somebody better come and generate some
kind of excitement or somethin’. That’s what I am trying
to do. Really, I am trying to take hip-hop and move it into a different
spectrum, a different space. I know that sounds ambitious but everybody
I look up to has done that.
You see, I’m a Leo. [One of my favorite artists] is George
Clinton, he’s a Leo, I believe and also KRS-One, he’s
a Leo. So, I’m looking at them like, okay they did it; I can
do it too. And that’s just astrology as far as inspiration.
There are so many Black artists that have done it even though there
are a lot of people around me will say, “You can’t do
it. You can’t play the keyboard. You goin’ sound like
this or whatever.” But, I’ve already proven that to
be false. But I don’t listen to that much hip-hop though.
Really? What do you listen to?
I listen to funk, pretty much, exclusively. But I do listen to hip-hop...I
keep abreast of the newest stuff. I’m pretty hip too but I
like listening to older stuff. It just kinda entertains me a little
bit more. You know what, I’ll tell you this, hip-hop entertained
me because of the rhymin’. That’s what I’ve always
loved about hip-hop. You don’t really need a beat for good
hip-hop. The beat has always been derived from something else. So
that never caught my attention as much as what somebody was saying
or how they were sayin’ it on the mic. That’s why that’s
up in the highest regard for me. Although I’m starting to
slow it down on some songs, and on other songs you could just be
But too much of one thing, especially that one thing, is just too
confusing for a lot of people. And I want to get as many listeners
as possible, not necessarily for the monetary reasons, although
that’s nice if that works, but I feel like that wouldn’t
even work out if I looked at it like that. But I would like to reach
as many people as I can ’cause I feel like I’m that
type of person. All the most popular artists, I like them. So I’m
like there should be no reason why I shouldn’t be there with
them. That’s how I’m looking at it, but I don’t
want to come off corny or nothin’ like that. So I am obsessive
about music theory, that’s what I do every day. Although dealing
with the business aspect of music I rarely find time to just do
music, you know what I’m saying, so it’s rather frustrating.
But I’m glad I learned music theory, cause when I finally
do get a chance to make music it doesn’t take as long and
it’s way better than it would have been.
I talked to some people around campus about you and getting a feel
for what they thought about you and music, and one thing [that]
came up consistently was how much they appreciated you releasing
things strictly off the internet, and how that was seen as a sense
of commitment to them, things you wouldn’t get otherwise.
I was wondering how you decided to do that.
I figured I would release some stuff on the internet because that
would be a good way to give my fans something that people couldn’t
get through any other means. That way they could have something
that they could be like “yeah, I got this though, you ain’t
got it.” It would still be that special little feelin’.
Though from what you just said, it sounds like it worked, ‘cause
you basically just repeated my thought process in that and that
is coming from other people. So I guess it worked out exactly the
way I planned it.
Tell me about your name.
I didn’t like it before, but I’m starting to like it
now. Just the scientific name for a human being basically and that
is how my mind works, very scientific. But I’m real simple-minded,
so a lot of times I let shit go past me. You know, I used to be
naïve. But, I am real scientific. I like breakin’ things
down, I like seeing how things work. That’s pretty much where
the name came from.
The other level you were talking about, the new space. Can you talk
about where you think it’s going to be, where you would like
it to be?
Well, like I said I’ve been studying a lot about [music] from
the blues on up, so at this point anything sounds like the blues
to me; it’s all related to the blues. Actually music hasn’t
really changed structurally since the blues. Knowing that I can
pretty much break down any kind of music, any kind of song, even
hip-hop songs, even if the person that produced it didn’t
intend for it to be like that. So with that knowledge I’m
trying to take the forms of music that I really like, break ‘em
down, figure out what their theory was behind doing that, mesh it
together with what I feel I want to do and put together an album.
First and foremost I want to be entertaining. But I figure it’s
going to be entertaining to people if I pretty much stick to the
Before it wasn’t like that; I was trying to make my own music
in its own space and I wonder why people ain’t buying it,
or how come it ain’t more black people at the show? But, I
don’t want to be with you over there, you know what I’m
sayin’? I want to be over here and totally original, but I
started figuring out that you can’t even be totally original.
Everything got some kind of base anyway so trying to that hard to
get that ain’t necessary. So I just started going backwards
a little bit and so I could just pick up a lot of the stuff that
I kind of knew, but I think it was time for a recharge just to get
it all back. That’s basically where I’m at. I want to
start it off real simple, just pretty much basic. I like innuendos
in music. I want to get more into that. Just the feel of stuff so
people can kind of feel what I’m sayin’ more [rather]
than me having to say line by line what’s going on because
I don’t see a lot of people doing that and people used to
do that hella more, especially in the ’70s. I feel like that
was the pinnacle of black music, period or music theory as far as
I’m concerned. It got destroyed with the whole corporate machine.
It just kind of got milked.
That’s just like hip-hop now. You’re getting to the
point where there are so many different offshoots you don’t
know what the real is no more. I’m not sayin’ I’m
going to be the one to totally transform hip-hop or nothing like
that, that’s not my intent, but whatever the new wave is going
to be, I want to be at the forefront of it and I feel like I can
be now ’cause I understand the basic underlying theory of
how music works, before I touch an instrument or anything like that.
So that’s where I’m at that’s really a new level
or whatever, or more of a gradual thing ’cause I think this
is somethin’ I’ve been buildin’ up to since I’ve
been making music, like I had to end up here or end up not doin’
it no more.