It's been eight long years since Oakland rapper Del tha Funkee Homosapien has released a solo album. In the meantime, of course, he's managed to keep himself from completely falling off the hip-hop radar with his continued work with his Hiero label, his 3030 collaboration with Dan the Automator, and of course his appearances on the Gorillaz 2001 self-titled smash. The MC has been promising Eleventh Hour since at least 2006, and though it was originally slated to come out on Hiero, Del finally made the move to Brooklyn's Def Jux in order to get a product out on shelves. While the album's packaging makes it seem like a rushed affair (with its home-printer-esque graphics and color scheme, it takes on the look of a bad reggae mixtape, and the image of Del wearing an Ableton lanyard doesn't help things at all) but it's clear that musically, Eleventh Hour has had a lot of time and thought put into it. Del's beats are well made, but because they're not particularly complicated, his reliance on one keyboard sound gets a little tiresome, and it can be difficult to tell one track from another. This is not always helped by the fact that Del's rhymes, while intricate and witty and unique, pretty much only discuss one thing: his skills. Which are formidable, to be sure, but after countless bars of "I blind minds with thoughts too real to concoct" ("Hold Your Hand"), "Why do you think that you are all that? Cuz you ain't" ("Bubble Pop"), "You wanna know how you can do it with style when you're putting it down, I'll tell you/Del do that and more" ("I'll Tell You"), lines begin to sound, well, repetitive and a little trite. J-Zone, Opio, and KU, the other producers Del brings on -- unfortunately, Def Jux just seems to be here in name only, as no one from the label has much to do with the record, or is even listed in the liner notes -- help to break things up, but even J-Zone's fun "Funkyhomosapien," which helps add diversity to the overall pace, is anticlimactic, closing the album on Del affecting a British accent and saying "You think you're foxy?/Ha ha ha, never, never I tell you" on a fading note, a track more appropriate for the middle of a record, not the end. Eleventh Hour is certainly not a disappointment: Del's as good of a rapper as ever, and the way he fits his words into the beats, playing with his and their cadence, is truly spectacular, but he needs to challenge himself -- and his listeners -- more, lyrically and beat-wise, instead of relying on the same tried-and-true methods, if he really wants to continue his legacy.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown