Del Free-flows on Music, Money and Good Karma

Senior 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.

NW: 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?

DFH: 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.

NW: 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?

DFH: 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.

NW: What got you into this; how did you begin?

DFH: 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 that involved.

NW: 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?

DFH: 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.

NW: Really? What do you listen to?

DFH: 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 a whirlwind.
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.

NW: 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.

DFH: 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.

NW: Tell me about your name.

DFH: 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.

NW: 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?

DFH: 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 tradition.
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.

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