Del the Funky Homosapien has had his share of hits, with his highly regarded debut I Wish My Brother George Was Here and work with the legendary Hieroglyphics crew begetting phenomenal collaborations with Dan the Automator and DJ Kid Koala under the moniker Deltron 3030, which of course led led to show-stealing cameos on the Gorillaz’ self-titled debut, locking Del's status as a cult favorite in the backpacker realm of Hip-Hop.
There have also been misses, however, with 2009's Funk Man (The Stimulus Package) and last year's It Aint Illegal Yet falling on entirely unimpressed ears. The erratic quality of Del's releases led to reserved enthusiasm for his next installment, which makes it all the more sweet that Golden Era is a power-punch of artistic revival for the enigmatic rapper.
Golden Era is a triple cd release that contains an all-new set of ten tracks, as well as the Funk Man and Automatik Statik albums for those who missed the first train on the Bandcamp-only releases. The confidence on the new materials moves beyond Del's bravado and lyrical labyrinths and back to the beat for the first time in ages, from the infectious "things can't stay the same" chorus of spiked-buoyance opener "Break The Bank" to the sinisterly aggressive hater-response on closer "Fallout".
Del's psychedelically-flirting stream-of-consciousness flow signature is ever-present on Golden Era, with an intensity of focus in execution that indicates the perpetually blazed MC may have switched from the uppercut-inhalant of indicas to the clear catapult of sativas.
Indeed, Del's fire is brighter and hotter than recent memory allows here; the rhythmic speed-hopscotch over the Beastie-like instrumentation loop of "Calculate" would've been a standout highlight on previous albums, the rapper dropping in on the one with a head-nodder verse high on braggadocio and "oh shit, rewind that" flow.
The album shines brightest on "Double Barrel," a self-fellating masterpiece hung on a dirty beat loop and a blizzard of shifting rhyme patterns, laughing at the idea that Hip-Hop is anywhere near dead: “I, self, lord and master, using force and practice / That you swore was magic or some sort of tactic / Nah, it’s all-natural, skill in action / I do this shit when I'm chillin’, relaxin’ / Don’t even got a million to back it / But I’m iller than that shit / You feel epitomizes the rap script / That’s a flop, next scene you see a casket drop / I’m out there like NASA astronauts / I think outside the box, you deny my props / But don’t lie to yourself, you know I’m kinda hot"
The funk-squawk of "Makes No Sense" supports Del's much-needed callout of the beef rappers who talk shit for absolutely no purpose other than to promote themselves, as well as the legions of supposed fans who "Download my whole discography and never bought a CD". Meanwhile, the future-synth urgency over the programmed slam-beats of “Pearly Gates” ride the front seat to Del's background flow, an interesting spin on production and mix that's not as off-putting as one might imagine – though it does wear on the patience after the first listen.
The vocals return to the forefront on “Raw,” one of the most direct flows on the album, a rapid-fire airtight rhyme over a basic beat and key-effect loops. It's a fine setup to the nearly tropical backdrop of the loudmouth Hip-Hop purist assassination of "Upside Down," a track so playfully dominant that its seemingly effortless delivery casually clowns higher-profile acts who put considerable sweat into looking like they've never perspired a drop in their lives.
If you're a Del fan who's been sidelined by the mediocrity of the past few releases, Golden Era is your return entry point. Airtight, well rounded and high-octane, it's a damn fine sign from the man who's still promising Deltron Event II. We're still waiting, more excited than ever.
Pick up Golden Era at Del's official site.
CraveOnline Rating: 8.5 out of 10