God knows what Del's been doing since the millennium. The guy practically retired around then, after dropping the rightfully canonized Deltron 3030 record and appearing on “Clint Eastwood.” It was a weird move considering that with all that Gorillaz exposure, Del could've probably signed with a major (at a time when people actually bought rap albums) and made a real play for that Damon Albarn money. Instead, he faded into oblivion, popping up only on the occasional Hiero album and claiming that he spent the rest of his hiatus studying music theory.
I'm calling bullshit. It's damn near impossible to study music theory, all day, every day for eight years without getting a Dr. in front of your name. I'm not doubting that Del knows his stuff, I'm more disappointed that he couldn't come up with a better explanation than “musical theory.” Couldn't he have said that he was fighting cyborgs on Deltron, or that he'd finally found his brother George or hell, that he'd been smoking sherm? I mean music theory? Is he trying to be a rapper or get a job at Pitchfork?
Now he's back and about to drop an album on Def Jux, as good a home as any for his brand of left-field rap, but not a great place to sell a bunch of records which according to this interview with Drop Magazine is one of his big hopes with his self-produced comeback album The 11th Hour. His single “Bubble Pop” sounds pretty far removed from the post-apocalyptic space choir of Deltron 3030 and even further than the Brit pop/hip-hop fusion of The Gorillaz. Lifting the familiar “Take me to the Mardi Gras” loop that Run DMC used on “Pied Piper,” the track somehow sounds simultaneously retro-minimalist and futuristic. A bassline gurgles, bells rings, scuffed, dusted drums kick and Del spits some generic if not well-crafted shit talking. I like it well enough, more because it's good to hear Del back more than anything spectacular about the track. As for The 11th Hour, I've heard mixed things, but I'm willing to give Del the benefit of the doubt. As long as he comes up with a better excuse than music theory.