Remembering San Francisco MC African Identity

Posted by Billyjam, September 16, 2015 02:26pm | Post a Comment

Late last night Pam the Funkstress posted a sad social media update to her Instagram and Facebook pages with the news that fellow veteran Bay Area hip-hop artist African Identity, who rose to fame in the early nineties with his firebrand mic skills and hardcore political hybrid style, had died yesterday, September 15th, 2015. In addition to her update, including noting how she had just seen him in the past month, Pam posted the above photo of the late great artist for whom no cause of death has yet been announced. The Fillmore, San Francisco emcee named Hunafa, but known to most as African Identity and sometimes as just Identity, will be remembered for such releases as Ransom Note and You Won’t Come To My Funeral. By the time his debut album You Won’t Come To My Funeral was released in 1995 the microphone master was already a respected mainstay on the healthy 1990's Bay Area hip-hop scene - ever since arriving with a bang in 1992 with his acclaimed single, “Let’s Get It On (Pullin That Trigger).”

In the capacities of hip-hop journalist, radio DJ, and concert producer I worked directly with African Identity on numerous occasions throughout the decade of the nineties and always knew him to be both a good person and most talented (albeit largely underrated) artist, especially when it came to flexing his freestyle skills. In the first half of that decade I would have him as a regular guest on my KUSF hip-hop radio show on the USF campus, not far from where he lived. I remember how listeners really appreciated his improv rhyme skills and how they nominated him as the “number 1 Bay Area freestyler" on the now defunct San Francisco radio station. Meantime over at KMEL African Identity had been nominated as the first runner up in their heated Battle Of The Rappers. With a now eerie sounding reference to his own funeral, the San Francisco artist's debut album, You Won't Come to My Funeral, was a largely slept-on, talent-packed Bay Area hip-hop gem. It featured an impressive roster of his peers as guests that included Pam the Funkstress' group The Coup, Del tha Funke Homosapien (who also did some production), the GLP's JT Tha Bigga Figga, and D-Moe, Shock G of Digital Underground, Young Woo, Psycho Gangsta, Double D, Cisco The Frisco Mack, Blackbook, and Screwface. Produced mostly by Nick Peace but with some additional studio work by Del and J-Mack, the album defined both the Bay Area sound at the time as well as that of the artist himself. In the period right before its mid-nineties release he summed up the richly diverse 14 track album as “enlightening, tantalizing, sensational, provocative, political, Afro-centric, Euro-centric, it’s everything that we are....”.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Del Promotes Hieros & Freestyles in Rare January 1993 KUSF Clip

Posted by Billyjam, September 8, 2015 11:45pm | Post a Comment

Inspired by Hiero Day, I just digitized and uploaded this old short interview and freestyle from Del who was the Hiero crew's lead ambassador back then. Del, who also created that instantly identifiable Hiero logo, introduced most hip-hop ears to the Hieros via his 1991 album I Wish My Brother George Was Here single "Mistadobalina" 12" B-side only track "Burnt" that featured members of the then unknown Oakland extended hip-hop crew, the Hieroglyphics. In this January 10th, 1993 interview the Oakland artist born Teren Delvon Jones takes the shine off himself and makes a point of giving mad love to his fellow crew members by plugging the 1993 debut album releases from both the Hieros' Souls of Mischief and Casual. Note that this was at a time when really not too many knew much about the Heiroglyphics hip-hop collective, who they all were, nor ever guessed how important they would go on to become two plus decades later. It was also fitting and prophetic that Del would focus so much on those two fellow Hiero albums by both Casual and the Souls since, combined with his post-cousin Ice Cube produced (read totally different sounding), they would define the sound of the so-called Hiero Golden Age.

Originally aired on KUSF during a blunted hip-hop special I produced, I invited Del because I knew he liked to smoke and he could play some exclusive tracks from his forthcoming second album No Need For Alarm. But more than promoting his own album that was expected to drop in the coming few months (it did not finally get released by Elektra until late November of that year), Del was more interested in talking about the Souls and Casual whose forthcoming releases he was clearly excited about. In mentioning the '93 Souls debut album '93 Til Infinity, he said it would be out in the coming few months when in fact it did not get released for another eight full months in September of 1993. Meanwhile the Casual album would be released in 1993 in turned out. It was not until the following year, 1994, when Jive would release Casual's debut album Fear Itself. In the brief clip you will hear Del, who I introduced as Del tha Funkee Homosapien (note later spelling would be Del the Funky Homosapien), say how his name is Del and "the group is tha Funkee Homosapien." He then goes on to spread Hiero love and spit a great freestyle. Hear below.

Hiero Day Shows Love For Oakland By Keeping It In "The Town"

Posted by Billyjam, September 1, 2012 07:48am | Post a Comment
It is only fitting that the setting for this Monday's (Labor Day) Hiero Day 2012 will be Oakland, CA. After all "The Town" (Oakland) is where the members of the globally respected, two-decade strong, hip-hop collective The Hieroglyphics came up in and, more importantly, stayed in. "We are lovers and supporters of our hometown. We have never left it, and have built a business empire that has hired many over the years. It is only right that we celebrate the positive in our own community as a form of tribute and to give back to a place that has nurtured and supported us," event organizer Tajai Massey of Clear Label Media Group Hieroglyphics Enterprises told the Amoeblog.

Massey is perhaps better known to most hip-hop fans simply as Tajai of the mighty Souls of Mischief crew who over the years, along with such fellow Hiero members as Casual, Del The Funky Homosapien, Pep Love,  Domino, Extra Prolific, and DJ Toure,  helped build the Hieroglyphics into an internationally recognizable and respected contemporary cultural entity. Indeed travel to any corner of the globe and odds are folks will instantly identify the Hiero's famous logo that was designed over 20 years ago by Del The Funky Homosapien.

Unfortunately due to his ongoing Deltron 3030 tour date commitments it seems like Del may not be able to make it on Monday for Hiero Day but (fingers crossed) reportedly there is a slim chance he may be able to make it. Regardless all of his other Hiero brethren will be there Labor Day in Downtown Oakland for Hiero Day which goes from 11am to 6pm and happens on San Pablo Ave. between 17th + 18th Streets (near the New Parish). "Members of Hieroglyphics performing Monday will include Opio, DJ Toure, A-Plus, Tajai, Pep Love, Casual, and Souls of Mischief," said  Walasia Al-Noor Shabazz - the General Manager at the Hieros' Clear Label Media company. And in addition to the Hieroglyphics first family of hip-hop there will be some of the very best of the Bay Area on stage too including Blackalicious, Planet Asia (technically from Fresno), Equipto, Moe Green, and Z-Man (who is still an honorary member of the Hiero camp since he put out a release via the Hieros a few years ago). Also performing will be the Kev Choice Ensemble and Honor Roll, plus DJ D Sharp.

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Del The Funky Homosapien Discusses Anticipated Forthcoming Deltron Album

Posted by Billyjam, July 11, 2012 10:41am | Post a Comment
A true sign of a really good hip-hop act is one that can keep their fans waiting a dozen long years before releasing a new album. In the notoriously fickle world of hip-hop, where even two years is considered a long gap between albums, to keep your fans hanging on for twelve years and still be there patiently waiting in anticipation is quite a coup. But such is the case with Deltron - the famed hip-hop supergroup comprised of the Bay Area's producer Dan The Automator, and emcee Del The Funky Homosapien (aka Deltron Zero), along with Canadian turntablist Kid Koala - who released their critically and commercially acclaimed debut Deltron 3030 back in 2000 that included such guests as Prince Paul. Peanut Butter Wolf, MC Paul Barman and Mr Lif. This September Deltron promise (for real this time) that they will release the hella overdue sequel - tentatively titled Deltron Event II.  And those patient dedicated Deltron fans, who waited so long that there was even a 2008 reissue of the first album, could not be happier with news of the album to be finally released. So too is Del The Funky Homosapien who talked to the Amoeblog this week about the forthcoming album.

"It's great man," said Del admitting that, "It took a while to get it done." Indeed the album, which had many false starts and stops over the past several years ever since production reportedly first began in 2006, has been supposedly been about to drop quite a few times including earlier this year.  Everyone was busy with stuff, said Del. "Dan had things going on. But once it started clicking, it was quick [writing & recording] doing it. It was like the first one." But compared to that first one released all those years ago, this one will sound a little different - but in a good way, insisted Del.  "I gotta say Dan stepped things up with this one production-wise. I really admire Dan from a producer standpoint. There's just all these subtle things in the music at certain places and you might not notice it till much later but they hella matter - just these little special touches, that added gloss," he said. "I like it and I think a lot of people will really enjoy it." 

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Weekly Hip-Hop Rap-Up Video Version with E-Lit @ Amoeba, Kool Keith, Phonte, 4two7, Doseone, 14KT, Illus, A-Wax + more

Posted by Billyjam, June 22, 2012 03:13am | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: Week Ending June 22, 2012

1) Del & Parallel Thought Attractive Sins (Parallel Thoughts)

2) House Shoes Let It Go (Tres Records) (CDLP)

3) Kool Keith Love and Danger (Junkadelic)

4) Big K.R.I.T. Krit Wuz Here (Green Streets Int)

5) Phonte Charity Starts At Home (Hbd Label Group)

Thanks to E Lit for this week's (video version) of the hip-hop report with new videos by artists below (some on the chart, some not) and E Lit doing a run down of releases and upcoming shows in video above.

Phonte "The Life of Kings (feat. Evidence & Big K.R.I.T.)" from Charity Begins At Home (2012)

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