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Now five albums into his solo output, Tony “Blockhead” Simon is still more known as a hip-hop producer to the stars — well, perhaps the underground stars, producing for notables such as Del, Murs, and Aesop Rock. But ever since being asked to create a fully instrumental album, Simon has proven just as interesting on his own, offering down-tempo, sample-heavy, and (mostly) rhyme-free rap tracks (all while increasing brand awareness).
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Del The Funky Homosapien has come a long way from being known as Ice Cube’s weird cousin (who isn’t even gangsta). After lending his inimitable, elastic flow and irreverent lyricism to “Clint Eastwood” and “Rock the House” (singles that helped launch Gorillaz to super-stardom), teaming up with Dan the Automator and Kid Koala for sci-fi concept album Deltron 3030, and helming his own group (Heiroglyphics), Del has carved himself a place in the halls of hip-hop history.
Although Del went from 2000 to 2008 without releasing a solo record, his current rate of output is staggering. His latest record, Golden Era, is packaged with two albums from 2009 that were previously only available electronically, Funk Man and Automatik Statik.
As the title suggests, Golden Era hearkens back to Del’s heyday, with astonishingly funky beats throughout. Smooth, nimble bass lines bounce along effortlessly, with slick synthesizers and guitars providing a melodic touch.
Some tracks, however, stray from this formula, keeping the album from repeating itself. Most notably, “Double Barrel” uses discordant synth bleats and bursts of guitar fuzz to create a noisy, Dälek-lite atmosphere. Tracks like this break up the stretches of old-school funk, keeping the record from becoming monotonous.
Those familiar with the national festival circuit might get a sense of déjà vu when looking at the lineup for Austin City Limits. No matter – there are plenty of quality jams to go around the fest’s eight stages, and we have our recommended itinerary ready for you.