Changing "da Funkee" in his name to "the Funky" was the most benign bit of upheaval Del the Funky Homosapien has experienced in the last decade.
The man formerly known as Teren Delvon Jones just released Funk Man: The Stimulus Package as a free download, just a year after dropping Eleventh Hour and two "leak packs" to end a nearly eight-year album hiatus.
Where had he been? Del says he had to take care of about 99 musical and personal problems, and a woman was one of them.
"The last one took so long because I was fuckin' with hos ... they fucked me off, basically," he says. "I was in high-stakes situations every other fuckin' week and shit. I ain't going to go into it too much, but believe me, it wasn't because I was just kickin' it."
With that, the "hella"-dropping Oakland kid whose cousin Ice Cube brought him into the game with the Golden Era-track "Mr. Dobalina" is long gone, as is the voice of Russell from the Gorillaz's "Clint Eastwood." What remains is a 36-year-old surrounded by the most positive, creative entourage he's had since teaming with Dan the Automator and Kid Koala on Deltron 3030 in 2000.
"It could be better, but now I don't got no hos around me or nothin'," he says. "No hijinks popping off every time I turn around ... I can just concentrate. I just cut off all the bad vibes and all the people who wasn't doing shit for me."
Del cleaned house at his Hiero Imperium Records label and made collaborator Bukue One his manager. Bukue has contributed tight tracks like the Latin-freestyle-flavored "His Voice" to Del's leak packs, and has also helped him refocus.
The newly unencumbered Del has also begun delving into different sounds from unexpected sources. Inspired by Frank Zappa's early sampling, he played with everything from music programs to simple chord progressions. After producing a layered, textural, futuristic funk that blares its way into the brain on the horn-heavy lead track "Get it Right Now" and the distorted "Straight from the Big Bad West Coast," he decided he had enough capital saved up to give his work away.
"Man, I just decided to give it away because I knew people wasn't going to buy it," he says. "But if you think that people are still full of shit with their records and music's not even a form of entertainment anymore, try my shit out. That's my 13-point stimulus plan."
It's also Del's way of standing behind his product while keeping up with the times. He's already outdone the average rapper's life span and envisions a career that's more akin to George Clinton's or Herbie Hancock's — as in more direction, less drama.
"I was like this: If I don't learn something more about music, I'm not going to survive," Del says. "That's why I had to step my game up. Or I'm going to wake up one day thinking I'm the shit and they're going to be like, 'No, you're not the shit and, as a matter of fact, all that shit you're doing is played out and it's been played out — you just was asleep.'"Purchase the CD: