Your new album The 11th Hour is finally out. How does that feel?
I feel good, man. It’s been awhile. My album’s about to come out and it’s going to be good for the fans to hear it.
Personally, I was worried it was never going to see the light of day.
Oh, nah. Nah, nah, nah. It had to.
What was your priority when you were making The 11th Hour?
Making sure that across the board, everybody could enjoy it, man. I didn’t want to make it too crazy. I wanted to make it just good enough so that my fans from before could enjoy it and people can appreciate hip-hop again, because I feel that in a lot of ways, it’s left them, as far as the core hip-hop is concerned. I wanted to make a hip-hop album that the average person can appreciate and enjoy again.
It’s been awhile since you dropped a solo Del album but you still kept the album fairly short. Why did you want to keep it under the 50 minute mark?
Because for one, people be downloading your stuff. I don’t see the point in putting out that much music if they’re going to download it anyway. That’s one thing. On the other hand, I really feel that if I put too much out, people start to scrutinize it too much and they look at you like you’re big-headed, like, ‘What are you trying to do?’ I feel like if you put out less, there’s less to scrutinize. That’s why I did that.
“Bubble Pop” was a buzz single for The 11th Hour. Did that do what you wanted it to?
Yeah, pretty much. That let people know that I was back out and what I was talking about. I just wanted people to know that I was back out and I had a single out. I was trying to pick something across the board that people could like. Some people didn’t like it, I guess because it sounded new to them. A lot of people liked it. A lot of people got where I was coming from. A lot of people who have known me for awhile, they didn’t like it.
What inspired “Bubble Pop”?
“Bubble Pop” is basically about somebody with an inflated ego. You burst their bubble, basically. You pop their bubble. That’s what that song is about, bursting people’s bubbles.
You also put a lot of cool samples in there. Can you take us through the making of the beat?
The drum loop, I had already from a sampling CD. So I threw that on there and I made a bassline to it. I played a bassline over it and I kind of left it somewhere for awhile. I forgot about it. Then one day when I was looking through my beats, I found it again and was like, ‘Damn, this is kind of slappin’.’ I started working on it again and that’s pretty much how it came out. I wanted it to be kind of old school, that’s why I kept the old school break. I wanted it to be old school and have that nostalgic feel to it, that’s why I left that. And I wanted it to be funky, that’s why I played the funky bassline over it. And Public Enemy is one of my favorite groups of all-time, if not my favorite group, so I wanted it to be kind of chaotic with a lot of stuff going on.
I remember you performed “Workin’ It” when I saw you live in the fall, which is now your single. Does that song mean more to you because it’s got such a different feel from a lot of your other music?
Yeah. I know it too, though. I can’t say I know, front to back, all the songs on my albums. That one I knew though. I spent a lot of time with it. That song, for me, I just tried to make it something that everybody could get into and it still has that good ol’ flavor. That’s how that came about. I didn’t want to change up my style that I was using. I wanted to still make it interesting and get some stuff off my chest like I usually do. I just tried to make it something where the person could follow me if they wanted to and make it interesting. Some people might not have gotten it but they would need to hear No Need for Alarm again. They didn’t catch what I was trying to do. I was trying to come with a new style instead of rapping the same way on every song. A lot of people like it though. Definitely more people like it than people who didn’t like it. There are some fans who are so diehard on my old stuff that they wouldn’t even accept it because it’s different. I try to come with something different just to please me.
Is that a challenge for you, finding new styles to do without alienating your hardcore fans?
You know what? I don’t really think too much of my fans [when making music]. I do. I have them in mind, but I definitely try to do what I want to do and I feel like I can make music well enough now to where most people should be okay with it. Some of my fans, I don’t know. I don’t think they’ll ever be pleased with anything. They’re just so anti. That’s some of them. A lot of my fans are more open-minded. It depends, man.
Does that ever bother you?
Honestly, a little bit. It kind of hurts when you hear a fan talking a mess about you. But enough people like it to the point where I don’t really care and I feel like on damn-near every one of my albums, a lot of fans wouldn’t like it at first and then a year or two later they would say it’s one of their favorite albums that they ever heard. Maybe it has to grow on people sometimes. I don’t know.
When I was at your show in the fall, the younger kids went crazy for your Deltron 3030 material and the older fans were more into your classic songs like “Mista Dobalina” and “No Need for Alarm”. Do you see that divide between your fans?
Yeah, yeah. I see it a little bit. It’s not so obvious though because there are people that are older that like Deltron too. It’s both, you know.
What allows you to constantly stay on the road and headline tours?
I didn’t do it alone. I’ll tell you the main thing that’s been keeping me on the road and has been getting me paid hella money is the Gorillaz. If it wasn’t for the Gorillaz, who knows. I definitely wouldn’t be getting as much money as I’m getting. And I wouldn’t have even been involved if it wasn’t for Dan the Automator. I definitely don’t do it on my own.
How much work are you doing with Dan today?
Not much. I’m working on the Deltron album now. I’m writing it by bars. I probably got 170 bars, probably. I’m just writing. Then I’ll split it up later. The music is already done. Dan and Kid Koala, they already finished what they gotta do. They’re just waiting for me to write the raps. It’s kind of like a book I’m writing, but I’m writing it by bars.
Is this project going to take you longer to work on than other albums?
Yeah. Yeah. Because I just want to be a little bit more precise about it. I don’t want it to be freestyly. I want it to have more substance and not just be freestlying with big words. I wanted to take a turn in another direction and add a little more substance. It’s going to take me a little bit longer and I also have to be in the right frame of mind to do it. Lately I’ve been in a different frame of mind. I’ve been on some real stuff. I haven’t been in the space age. I’ll have to immerse myself in some anime and read some books and stuff.
Is it hard to write rhymes for a project like Deltron if you’re not in another world mentally?
Yeah. It’s hard for me to watch anime and read comic books all day like I used to. When I was younger, that’s all I did, literally, to the point where if I didn’t step my music game up, I would have been gone. That’s why I studied music theory. I study music theory now, all day and all night. That’s all I do. I figure that pays off for me better in the long run than staying up late reading comic books and playing video games all day. No offense to those things. I still love them. I still got my Xbox here and I still got comics. I got my Wii and my PSP and DS. I got tons of games on my computer. But I don’t just sit there and play them all day anymore. Right now I’m just trying to smash and do a lot of music.
The last time we spoke you had just gotten robbed and had no video game systems.
Yeah. I got over it, man, and was just like, ‘Let’s bring it back.’ For a minute I didn’t even care anymore. I had to just break down and get the Xbox. I was like, ‘Okay, man.’ And then somebody donated a Wii to me. It’s all good after that!
What games have been taking up most of your time?
Mainly arcade games. I got Main on my Mac. I got the plug-in for Genesis on my Mac. Basically any game that was released on those systems is on my computer, plus I have every arcade game that I could ever want on my computer, the 2-D games at least. The 3-D games don’t work well on my computer. I have X-Men vs. Street Fighter. I have all the fighting games. I like all the action games. I like action games a lot, like shooting games, where you just try to blast everything on the screen and you try to annihilate everything on the screen. Every now and then I’ll turn on the Xbox. Those games are so expansive. I don’t really have the time to sit there and read a book on a game. I haven’t done that in a minute.
When I’m playing games now, I wonder, ‘Where did I get all the patience to beat these games?’ Now I’m dying in just a few seconds. Now I’m realizing that those arcade games were secretly designed to keep you plugging quarters into those games. But somehow I was still beating those games! I guess I just spent all my money until I beat it.
How much of the production did you want to handle on The 11th Hour?
Man, most of it I handled. That was kind of like by default though because I was in a position where I could completely influence it by myself. It wasn’t done on purpose. It was just the situation that I was in. It just came out. It was my first production gig. I’m trying to become more of a producer. That’s what I’m trying to get into. I guess this was my first project. I thought it came out good, man.
Were you able to do everything you wanted on The 11th Hour?
Yeah, pretty much, musically. The only thing I couldn’t do, really, was mix the album. I got a little bit of mixing training. Opio also did a track on my album and J-Zone did a track for me.
Your press release for The 11th Hour said there were going to be some remixes by El-P and Blockhead coming. Can you tell us more about that?
It’s up to them. Wherever they feel like they want to take the song, in whatever direction, it’s up to them. I’m not standing over them telling them it has to be like this. Sure, it’s going to be a new direction from the original song. I already heard some of it and it sounded dope. It’s definitely different from the original.
A-Plus said him and his brother Aagee were working on EPs for all the Hiero cats. Are you guys working on one with his production team Compound7?
Yeah. It’s done. We got an EP called L.E.D. produced by Compound7. It’s done.
How did it come out?
It came out dope. Really, they just gave me the beats and the idea and concept of L.E.D., it pretty much has the concept of the EP format. It was good. All they needed to do was get my vocals on it. I just took some time to write some vocals and write some lyrics real quick. I went in real quick and gave it back to them. I got all the equipment I need to record in my house so it’s real easy for me to go in and do it. I don’t have to go to a studio and do all of that. I spent a lot of money getting my house to the point where I could do that.
Have you worked at all on the new Souls of Mischief album?
I did a little bit of voice work. I didn’t rap on it, I don’t think. I did some skit work and stuff. That’s about it though. That album is kind of self-contained too. I did a little bit of stuff.
From what you’ve heard, will fans be happy with the project?
They should be, damn. They really should be. I don’t know though. Fans are so fickle, man. I don’t know. It’s something that everybody should be able to like. They definitely take it back to some old school stuff with the kind of flavor that they originated with but they stepped it up to now. So yeah, I think people should like it though. I don’t see no reason as to why people shouldn’t like it, but you don’t know. If you ain’t gonna like it, you ain’t gonna like it. Some people, they just got it in their minds that they’re not going to like it. But if you’re going to like it, there’s definitely a lot of material to like. They worked hard on that.
How loyal are your fans?
Sometimes I be asking them, man. I be asking them. If I blow up and you see me on TV all over the place, are you going to hate on me like you hate on Kanye West? “Oh no, Del, we would never do that!” Okay, we’re going to see. I don’t know, man, with the way people are talking about people. The only reason they’re talking about dude is because he’s on TV and he’s making money. Before that, he was your hero. Now that everybody else likes him, he’s not your personal hero no more and you start hating him. I ask people all the time if they really like me or if it’s because they think I’m their underground hero right now. We’ll see. I’m not going to say it’s all of my fans, but I definitely know that there are some fans out there who definitely get jealous when you leave the nest.
“Clint Eastwood” with the Gorillaz is one of your biggest songs to date. Did you get any hate for doing that?
No, because it was an accident. It wasn’t supposed to blow up like that. It was something that came from overseas and it was imported. It was new and different. People didn’t look at that like I really blew up. That wasn’t even my song. I was featured on it and I wrote my verses, but it wasn’t really “my” song. It was something that I was featured on, so maybe that had something to do with that. I thought that was good, but it was like, ‘I ain’t blowin’ yet.’ A lot of people were praising me for it. A lot of people who weren’t knowing me were praising me for that.
Will there be a new Hiero album anytime soon?
We’re working on the new album right now.
Would there be a tour to accompany the album?
Probably. I probably ain’t going to be on all of it because I have other responsibilities. I basically can’t be in two places at once. I got 11th Hour stuff that I gotta do and I got production responsibilities at home. I’ll probably only be on the major dates. I’m not saying that they can’t hold it down on their own. But the album is damn-near finished.
How did the album come out?
It’s sounding good so far. I’m impressed. We’re still going to do some more stuff. We got 12 songs, but we’re going to do some more stuff. We got enough for an album. But we’re going to do some more stuff real quick and stretch it out before we settle down with what we got.
What’s the next move for Del?
Production, pretty much. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get out of having to be on the road all of the time, so I’m just trying to find other ways to supplement my income and since I produce stuff all day, I can do that. That’s what I would really like to develop more into – a producer. I’m starting to see that it’s kind of a hard task. But you just gotta do things that are willing to work with you. That’s all I’ve been doing lately, just working with people that are willing to work with me until I come up. And then people will hear my work and they’ll like it and they’ll want to work with me and I’ll be able to make more money with it. It might take awhile or it might be quick. It depends on whoever out there has money and has ears and likes what they hear, pretty much.