Eleventh Hour

11th.jpgTitle: Eleventh Hour
Artist: Del the Funky Homosapien
Label: Definitive Jux
Catalog No.: 881562
Date: 2008

After years and years of delays, Del the Funky Homosapien has finally resurfaced on the hip hop landscape with Eleventh Hour, his fifth solo album. Over the last nine years, Del has been an enigma. He randomly popped up on compilations and group albums, but was virtually absent from the hip hop scene. Released on indie power-house Definitive Jux, Eleventh Hour is Del the Funky Homosapien’s comeback album.

After being introduced to the hip hop world by his cousin Ice Cube, Del released his debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here (1991) to much critical acclaim. He followed that up with No Need For Alarm (1993) which was very well received and introduced his crew, the Hieroglyphics. Del’s third solo album, Future Development (1998), was issued by his crew’s own Hiero Imperium Records after the rapper was released from his contract with Elektra. It is often seen as his best work. In 1998, the Hieroglyphics released their first crew album, Third Eye Vision, which established the collective as an underground force. In 2000, Del’s fourth solo album, Both Sides of the Brain, received mixed reviews. He subsequently followed that up with Deltron 3030 (2000), a concept album that has become an underground classic. Since 2000 Del has been relatively silent, except for a notable appearance on the Gorrillaz debut single “Clint Eastwood.”

Minus a few exceptions, the long-awaited Eleventh Hour was completely written and produced by Del which, if anything, gives it a high level of cohesiveness. The album opens up with “Raw Sewage,” a superb song that features minimalistic production and braggadocio rhymes. Although his flow is a tad lazy, the song still sounds like its from the Both Sides of the Brain era, when Del was at his finest. The next song, “Bubble Pop,” is representative of what plagues this album–complex, but underwhelming production combined with an uninspired delivery from Del. “Back in the Chamber,” “Foot Down,” “Workin It,” and “Str8t Up and Down” all have these same characteristics. They are not bad songs, just uneventful. There are, however, other highlights including the laid-back “Last Hurrah,” the smooth “Hold Your Hand,” and the up-tempo Ladybug Mecca collaboration “I Got You.”

Eleventh Hour is a mediocre release from a very talented artist. After listening to this album and comparing it to previous efforts, it became clear that part of what once made Del and the Hieroglyphics so great was their youthfulness. This is not to say that the crew is too old to make good music (see Opio’s 2005 album Triangulation Station), but Del’s pseudo-nerdy braggadocio rhymes do not sound as good coming from his 35-year-old self. Combine that with hit-or-miss production and you get the disappointment that is Eleventh Hour. Hopefully Del’s forthcoming Deltron Event II will make up for this release, just as Deltron 3030 compensated for Both Sides of the Brain.

Posted by Langston Collin Wilkins