Review: Del and Tame One – Parallel Uni-Verses (Gold Dust)

I recently did a piece for SF Weekly on this album, but here’s my review.

Recent collaborations between hip-hop veterans have not always been successful. KRS-One and Buckshot recently teamed up for Survival Skills, an album that only served to showcase how incredibly exciting and prolific these two MC’s used to be. In light of this, it’s nice to hear how good Del The Funky Homosapien and Tame One sound on their recent team-up, Parallel Uni-Verses. Both have been around since the early ‘90s. Del hails from the Bay Area, and in addition to appearing on Gorillaz’ hit single “Clint Eastwood,” is part of Hieroglyphics, one of the most successful independent crews in hip-hop. Tame One came up in New Jersey as part of the Artifacts and has been a member of the Weathermen and Leak Brothers.

Admittedly, Del and Tame’s rhymes wouldn’t sound quite as good if it weren’t for production duo Parallel Thought’s beats. They twist eerie rock breaks (“The Franchise”) and old funk loops (“Flashback”) alike into compelling tapestries of boom-bap, the perfect canvas for any capable MC. And Del and Tame are more than capable. Del’s flow is sort of lackadaisical and psychedelic, reeking of years and years of blunt smoke, acid tabs, and video games. Tame is gruff, more belligerent, but still thoughtfully mixing metaphors and pop culture references into a forceful train of grimy thought.

But the two styles sound right at home together over the course of the album, which holds together thematically and sonically over the course of its 50 minutes – that alone is a great feat in this age of disjointed hip-hop singles and records heavy on filler. “I cut up my lungs, fucking with suns with gravitational pull shit, bullshit till I’m done,” exclaims Tame on “I’m A…” This just about sums it up.

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