Teren Delvon Jones, better known Sir Dzl, better known as Deltron 3030, better known as Del tha Funkee Homosapien, better known as Ice Cube’s cousin, is best known as “that guy from The Gorillaz.” At the young age of 18 he released his first record, I Wish My Brother George Was Here, and if you didn’t live near Oakland you might have missed it. I did live there, I didn’t miss it, and I listened to it so much I memorized songs like “Sleeping on my Couch,” “Pissing on my Steps,” and the club hit “Mistadobalina.”
Del himself hated the record, broke away from his cousin (who produced the debut album), and immediately became an obscure indie rapper. You know, the kind I like. Elektra Records dropped him, and he released a series of udnerground albums with a series of collectives and under a series of pseudonyms. His work as Deltron 3030 with fairly well-known artists Dan the Automator and Kid Koala got him in the studio with Damon Albarn’s post-Blur band, Gorillaz, where he provided the rap breaks on the monster hits Clint Eastwood and Rock the House. But rather than use his newfound fame to become a corporate superstar (Elektra expressed interest by issuing a “greatest hits” compilation that was basically just his first album), he remained—and remains—underground. He often releases pay-what-you-want records and gets songs into video games and movies, but remains obscure.
I like a lot of his work, but the certified GOAT “Mistadabolina” remains far and away my favorite. It’s super-catchy, smart, and full of teenage energy. You can hear how different it was from everything else that was around in the early 1990s, an era known for gangsta rap and the heavy political work coming out of New York City. Del’s song seems to break from all that, it’s a song for the hippies—De La Soul were still fairly big back then—but it’s a song about the street life. The mix of light bop in the beat, the shout-out to George Clinton (“Gloryallastupid!”) and lyrics about betrayal—on an album about freeloaders and junkies—created a truly unique single. One of the Greatest Of All Tunes.
Further listening: Missing Link with Dinosaur Jr. (off the soundtrack to Judgement Night); Clint Eastwood and Rock the House (The Gorillaz).
Covers: None. So here’s the video.