Del’s the best. Back in college I was super into Ice Cube and George Clinton, digging into the wide diaspora of everything those guys had anything to do with. Reading liner notes to figure out sample sources, scouring dollar bins for beat up copies of Parlet and Bootsy’s Rubber Band, and all that.
I picked up I Wish My Brother George Was Here when it was released in 1991 strictly because Cube produced it and Del was his cousin. At the time I had no idea that the album would represent the apex of P-Funk sampling. Nobody could possibly top it, although some might think The Chronic — released a whole year later — came closest. (I would argue that since Dre preferred to interpolate with live musicians rather than sample records, The Chronic doesn’t count. But that’s just be me being pedantic.)
After My Brother George, Del (and everybody else) stepped away from using brother George Clinton’s beats. Of course, the chilling effect of the Biz Markie v. Gilbert O’Sullivan decision, which effectively prohibited the creative use of sampling, probably had a lot to do with that as well. But Del moved on, focusing on his intricate rapping.
Ten years later his verses were the highlight of “Clint Eastwood,” the breakthrough single by Damon Albarn’s cartoon band, the Gorillaz. At the time I was disappointed that Del wasn’t featured on every Gorillaz jam, but nope. It’d be a lot cooler if he was.
Del has continued doing his thing. Keeping his head down and moving forward. Collaborating with a wide variety of freaks and heads from Dinosaur Jr and Sean Lennon to MF Doom and the Wu-Tang Clan. And now he’s teamed up with producer Amp Live on a full length album called Gate 13, due (when else?) 4/20.
Del + Amp Live: web.