Del the Funky Homosapien

No Need for Alarm

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After helping create the West Coast underground scene with his 1991 debut, Del tha Funkee Homosapien made a radical departure with 1993's No Need for Alarm, eschewing the familiar G-funk of his debut for a jazzier, more sophisticated sound more akin to East Coast acts like Black Moon and Main Source. The thematic and lyrical content of Del's work underwent a considerable change as well, with No Need for Alarm largely avoiding the endearing comic vignettes and blunted utopian vision of his debut for a never-ending string of battle raps. Del's loopy sense of humor remained intact, but without the structure and pop savvy of I Wish My Brother George Was Here, No Need for Alarm feels a bit aimless, even if it does contain some of Del's best work to date. "Catch a Bad One" showcases Del's new direction to the best effect, driven by Casual's sinister, hypnotic, string-laced production and some of the fiercest and most potent battle raps of Del's career. When No Need for Alarm works, it's terrific -- funny, skillfully produced, and wonderfully propulsive. Unfortunately, it only works about a third of the time. Critics have taken Del's debut to task for having a fairly generic P-funk-dominated sound more in line with executive producer Ice Cube's work than Del's unique sensibility, but Del has always functioned better when paired with strong collaborators. Sure, it could be argued that I Wish My Brother George Was Here and Deltron 3030 reflect the sensibilities of producers and co-producers Ice Cube and DJ Pooh and Dan the Automator as much as they do Del, but working with strong-willed peers has a tendency to temper the artist's tendency toward self-indulgence and bring out the best in him. Without a strong sense of direction, No Need for Alarm is frustratingly uneven, rich and transcendent one moment and aimless and repetitive the next. Still, it's a challenging, unique, and uncompromising follow-up, one well worth picking up for anyone interested in either the evolution of West Coast hip-hop or just the evolution of one of its most talented, eccentric, and gifted artists.

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