Del The Funky Homosapien “Mistadobalina” (1991)
I live in the beautiful Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn and happen to be lucky enough that the Prospect Park bandshell where they have the Celebrate Brooklyn! free concert series every summer is right at the end of my street. One of my favorite shows this year was Deltron 3030 aka Del The Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator and Kid Koala. I had friends visiting from out of town who weren’t familiar with them but were won over when I told them it was the rapper and producer from "Clint Eastwood" by Gorillaz, and more importantly, it was a free show. The weather was perfect, the show was killer and they even played “Clint Eastwood” as the encore! Everyone went home happy.
Afterwards, my friends wanted to know more about this awesome show they just witnessed, which led to one of my lengthy diatribes about 90s hip hop. I talked about Automator’s work in Dr. Octagon and Handsome Boy Modeling School, and Del’s involvement with Hieroglyphics and Da Lench Mob, and oh yeah, Ice Cube is his cousin! They seemed to be following along until I said “do you know that song? ‘Mistadobalina, Mister Bob Dobalina’???” Blank stares all around.
"Mistadobalina" was the lead single to Del’s debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here released in 1991. It’s a breezy, funky, and slightly weird b-boy attack on all the posers out there as represented by the titular character Mr. Bob Dobalina. It wasn’t a major hit though it did chart as high as 4th in Austria if Wikipedia is to be believed! What’s most notable about it now is how out of place it was for its time. From Kool Keith to Atmosphere to Odd Future, weird rap music has a long and storied history, but that wasn’t case in ‘91. Del was especially an oddity for a west coast scene that rose to prominence with gangsta rappers like Del’s cousin Ice Cube. The only thing that feels distinctly west coast here is the heavy usage of George Clinton/P-Funk samples, which are utilized on 8 of the album’s 14 tracks. That being said, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic didn’t come out until a year later, so I’m not even sure how ‘west coast’ this seemed in ‘91.
Despite their familial connection and the success of their collaboration, Del and Ice Cube never worked together again. For his next album, Del dumped the G-Funk altogether and formed Hieroglyphics, his own hip hop collective of likeminded Bay Area rappers and producers. Hiero would go on to become the quintessential west coast underground rap group, holding a position not unlike N.W.A.’s status as the quintessential commercial rap group. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of “Mistadobalina“‘s legacy is that it’s the only real link between these two disparate branches of west coast hip hop’s family tree. I’d be remiss to not also mention that it’s just a great friggin’ song that totally stands the test of time.
Oh, and it bumps in the ride. So roll down them windows and turn up the volume. Happy Friday bitches.