Veteran rapper Del The Funky Homosapien has made quite the name for himself throughout the years working on projects such as Gorillaz, Handsome Boy Modeling School and others. Two weeks ago, Del (a.k.a. Teren Delvon Jones) released another new LP that is certain to cement his place in the hip-hip community even more in the form of Gate 13. Joined by producer Amp Live (who is also one half of the hip-hop duo Zion I) this time out, Jones has crafted another interesting record that stands easily on its own merits. One of the most notable of those merits comes almost halfway through the album in the form of ‘Help.’ It will be discussed shortly. The intense ‘Humble Pie,’ which immediately follows ‘Help’ is another of those merits that deserves discussion. It will be addressed later. ‘On The Ball,’ which comes even later in the album’s run, is one more of the album’s most notable merits. It will also be discussed later. Each song noted here is in its own right, a good example of what makes Gate 13 a solid effort from Del The Funky Homosapien and Amp Live. When they are considered along with everything else that this record has to offer listeners, the end result is a record that is easily one more of this year’s top new rap/hip-hop albums.
Gate 13, the new full-length album from Del The Funky Homosapien and Amp Live, is a record that rap and hip-hop fans across the board will appreciate. That is proven time and again throughout the course of the album’s 16-song body. From start to finish, its merits prove to be many. ‘Help’ is one of the album’s most notable merits. The song stands out in part because of its musical arrangement. At its core, it is an old school hip-hop arrangement, as is evidenced in the combination of the song’s beats and sampling. It is something that is certain to impress hip-hop purists. At the same time, the subtle inclusion of the operatic vocals and electronics add a slight modern touch to the arrangement, too. The combination of the two elements creates a strong, solid foundation for the song. The song’s lyrical content builds on that foundation, strengthening it even more. Del makes more than enough Star Wars references in the song’s lyrical side which seems to address his contemporaries who, in his eyes, are not entirely real. In other words, it comes across as a battle rap to a point. This is inferred as Del writes, “I strike the enemy back/Give the enemy action/The force ain’t with you, is against you/We hit ‘em with blasters/But my hand solo, fly like Millenium Falcon/they defenses is what’s crackin’, really what’s crackin’/I make it happen tonight, whoop an a**/Then they want to shake hands after the fight, Rappers act too good for rap because they ain’t actually nice/Believe in they own hype, act like they practically nine/Too simplistic/You see we futuristic, we introduce the system/Got the computer trippin’, confuse the ******/They don’t know what to do, bring ‘em down to earth/Ain’t no one lookin’ up to you, ain’t nothing new.” Again, the reference to other rappers here leads one to infer a certain message here. He continues in similar fashion in the song’s second verse, seemingly accusing those other rappers of “Thinkin’ they blazin’ train/Smellin’ like burning trash, so they should fry in hell.” That’s a pretty strong statement. He tells those rappers, “Take a number, be patient, don’t blame the line/Don’t’ blame the game, ain’t nothin’ wrong with the game/Acting like you anybody, somebody wantin’ the game…you don’t belong in the game.” Again, this continues to come across as a battle rap of sorts, and one that is certain to have an impact on other rappers just as much as listeners. When one adds the song’s musical arrangement to the mix, it adds even more to the song’s impact, proving easily why this is one of the most notable of the album’s many merits. It certainly is not the only of the album’s most notable merits. ‘Humble Pie,’ which immediately follows ‘Help,’ is another of those truly notable merits.
‘Humble Pie’ stands out in part because unlike ‘Help,’ boasts more of a modern arrangement. The use of the keyboards and electronics alongside the solid, driving beats makes for an infectious arrangement that is sure to keep listeners engaged. That maintained engagement also ensures listeners will be pulled in just as much by the song’s lyrical theme, which presents an impacting anti-bullying message as its base. Jones writes in this song about a bully who pushed so many people around until one day when he ran into a would-be victim who stood up to him and put the bully in his place. He notes in the song’s end, “The moral of the story, so they don’t forget/Don’t get too big for your britches.” The bully got too big for his britches, and in turn got what was coming to him. Now given, the manifest function here likely was not to present an anti-bullying message, but presenting that message was a great way to get across the ultimate message of keeping sight of things and staying humble. Kudos are in order for Jones and for Amp for taking that approach here. It was wise to say the least, and in turn shows even more why the song is another notable addition to Gate 13. It is not the last of the album’s most notable compositions, either. ‘On The Ball’ is one more of the album’s most notable entries.
‘On The Ball’ stands out more than the previously noted songs because of its arrangement. This song’s arrangement is completely unlike anything that any other hip-hp or rap artist or act is doing and has done. This mid-tempo composition relies heavily on electronics and bass for its foundation. That’s not to say it’s some attempt at EDM. That’s hardly the case. What it is though, is work that must be heard to be fully appreciated in its original approach. Of course its lyrical content is just part of what makes the song stand out. Del writes here, “Let’s play a game called Simon Says/Let’s see if you can find some bread/Like you found the steps/Find out I’m five steps ahead…the foot soldiers/Missed some steps/Looks like they gotta retrace their steps/then face what’s in my missile, whack/Zoom, boom, erase they past/This the future, we made our path/We thought about it, we made our plan/they can’t catch that with a radar scan…” It goes on in similar fashion, putting out a positive, confident statement along the way, with Del noting “they be actin’, they wont’ admit it…My word is bond/Know they heard that part before…they think they right/Couldn’t be more wrong…they think too small/Thinking they big shots/If they got the combination, why they gotta pick the lock?” long story short, there is a lot of confidence here. It’s in similar fashion as ‘Help,’ just not a direct battle rap. Rather it’s that self-confident statement. Keeping that in mind, that statement – coupled with the song’s original musical arrangement – easily makes it another standout addition to Gate 13. When it is considered along with ‘Help,’ ‘Humble Pie’ and the rest of the album’s entries, the strength of each song makes the album in whole a record that is certain to stick with hip-hop and rap fans across the board. To that end, it becomes a record that deserves consideration for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new albums within that realm.
Del & Amp Live’s new album Gate 13 is one of the best surprises of this year so far in the rap and hip-hop realm. It is proof, just as in the rock realm, that independent releases can and often are just as good as the bigger name releases. It offers such a wide variety of arrangements throughout and equally wide array of lyrical themes. That variety, as noted briefly here (and hopefully clearly) makes this record an easy and enjoyable listen for any hip-hop and rap purist. From old school arrangements to modern compositions that no one else is doing to lyrical themes that are direct at times and more fun at others, this record just offers so much to listeners. Keeping that in mind, Gate 13 proves to be deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new hip-hop and rap albums. It is available now. More information on Gate 13 is available online along with all of Del The Funky Homosapien’s latest news at:
Amp Live’s latest news and more is available online at:
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