This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue. For subscription services, click here.
Del the Funky Homosapien endured a life-altering experience while performing overseas with Gorillaz at the 2018 Roskilde Festival. During their performance of “Clint Eastwood,” Del tumbled off the stage and suffered significant injuries. Gorillaz front man Damon Albarn immediately sprang into action and stopped the show.
“He [Albarn] was in shock,” Del recalls. “He thought I was onstage behind him. When he turned around, I wasn’t there. He looked down and I’m in a fucking hole behind him. I’m calling to him like, ‘Please help me. Help me.’”
At this point, Del was unable to move. Subsequently, he was rushed to a Danish hospital where doctors discovered he’d not only broken several ribs but had also punctured a lung. After several weeks in Denmark, Del was finally cleared to go home.
Now back in the United States, life looks slightly different for the Bay Area hip-hop luminary.
“I’m trying to get my head together while I’m here,” Del admits. “Physically, I’m okay. Mentally, I’m working on that. It was a lot to go through. I had to go talk to a psychiatrist because there was no way I was about to go back on the road. I didn’t trust nobody. In a way, it was good that it happened because it forced me to think about all this other shit that was happening in the background, even from my childhood. I guess a lot of shit was just repressed.”
Del credits his occasional use of CBD oil with helping him through periods of anxiety. “It calms me down,” he says. “I used it maybe about a year or two ago. I get it whenever I’m around it. It’s not something that is within my grasp all the time, but if I see it, then I’m going to grab some. It takes the edge off.”
It makes sense he’d need to unwind—Del has basically been going nonstop for the past 27 years. His 1991 inaugural album, a nod to George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic, I Wish My Brother George Was Here, was partially produced by NWA legend Ice Cube, who also happens to be Del’s cousin.
Following the album’s tepid success—thanks in large part to the project’s anchor “Mistadobalina”—Del took the reins and released his seminal album, No Need for Alarm, in 1993. Alarm spawned classics such as “Wack M.C.’s” and “Catch a Bad One” while ushering in a whole era of skateboard-wielding weirdos obsessed with alternative rap, which was a far cry from the gangsta rap emanating from the West Coast at the time.
While acknowledging No Need for Alarm’s recent 25th anniversary, Del doesn’t want to be defined by just one album. He’s constantly evolving and pushing out projects to add to his colorful catalog. Most recently, he teamed up with Bay Area producer and all-around musical genius Amp Live for Gate 13, a shining example of Del’s rhyming prowess and storytelling brilliance.
“I want people to be here for moments that are about to happen, too,” Del says. “Because a lot of people, they just gave up on the shit or they just don’t listen to music anymore, like, ‘I’m grown now. I don’t need to listen to this shit.’ The average person, they listened to whatever was popular when they was in high school, but as they got older, they out the loop. They don’t really relate to this other shit. It’s just like, ‘Okay. I guess it’s over.’ I just want them to know I’m still here.”
Del has a new project coming out under his smooth alter ego Funk Pimpin’. As Del explains: “He knows things. If you need some information or something, maybe he can answer it for you. He’ll keep you on the right trail—if you choose to listen. He’s helpful, though, not harmful.”