Del The Funky Homosapien and Tame One are names that resonate with fans of ’90s underground Hip Hop on both coasts. Del was often looked at as the head honcho of California’s Hieroglyphics, dropping albums like I Wish My Brother George Was Here and establishing an even greater following with the release of Deltron 3030, while Tame came up with The Artifacts, but truly shined on his underground East Coast classic When Rappers Attack. However, in 2009, with some of their best efforts behind them, it seems unlikely that the duo can deliver a relevant but true Hip Hop gem. With the album entirely produced by the up-and-coming production duo, Parallel Thought (who handled Tame’s last two releases), Del and Tame seem eager to progress, but at times seem stuck in place.
The album opens with the duo spitting over a beat that appears to have the same sample as Method Man & Redman’s “Ayo.” Nevertheless, both emcees seem hungry with Tame introducing newcomers to the typical content of his dusted rhymes (“hash and spirits, liquors and such/ with uppers and downers all around us, tell bitches go get the Dutch”). This is one of the few instances on the entire LP that Tame seems on par with the multisyllabic flow he adapted in the late ’90s, as he seems to have lost a step. The same can’t be said for Del though, as he appears to sometimes outdo himself on this release. “Keep It Up” is a decent effort, but Tame doesn’t really say much, which is disappointing due to the potential he has. However, Del one-ups him which seems to be the pattern of the album.
The lead single, “Flashback” aims to give the listeners a feel for the early ’90s, but I would argue that it’s one of the album’s greatest misses. While I’m all for artists trying something new, the track seems completely unorganized at times with awkward pauses and sometimes nonsensical rhymes in Tame’s verses; Del doesn’t fare that well either. “Specifics” is another instance where Parallel Thought flips a sample that already been used (Mr. Hyde and ILL Bill “Street Veterans 2″), although in each instance, they somehow manage to keep it original. In fact, this is one of the best beats on the album and even has Tame summoning the spirit of his Artifacts days, spitting, “medicating with incense lit/self-medicating ’till Tame One’s dumb numb up in this bitch/off syzurp, pancakes, and prescrips/the administered statistic, ghetto from the get-go, they got shit to get ya/little way of the game, I’ll kill ya/yall seem soft/I’ll sawed off shotgun your head clean off/sharp as the teeth of a shark/ freaking apart/speaking in barks/my most recent decent remarks/ for any possible dart, you’re just an afterthought/ I’m right here right now, I’m the thing to do/but then again on a scale from one to ten, you’re a two.”
Tame reminisces growing up in New Jersey on “Before This”, dropping some clever rhymes, although at times the flow leaves something to be desired. It’s interesting hearing him talk about knowing Wyclef growing up and how persistent he was to make music, while Tame seemed unmotivated and was doing mushrooms until he formed a group himself. Del describes how he was always artistic and “into poetry,” but hated school. This is probably the least memorable appearances by Del on the LP. “We Taking Over” is in the vein of reflecting on the past, which by this point has apparently become the theme of the album. Both emcees do their best, but this cut suffers from a horrendous chorus. “Teddy” is your usual Tame One track; he talks about using various drugs, specifically but not limited to cough syrup and PCP. Del indulges as well, spitting “come and get your order like Mickey D’s/buy the trees/no pennies got grimmies, plus biddies and plenty/f*ck 5-0 they can’t get me/I’m sitting pretty in a bucket/with two chickens that trick and suck dick.” “Gaining Ground” doesn’t feel like it should be the album’s closer, but is overall a decent track with nice lines from both emcees.
Overall the beats are dope. Parallel Thought proves that they’re a diamond in the rough by lacing the duo with some stellar production. However, Tame One often doesn’t live up to the standard he set on When Rappers Attack and The Leak Brothers, while Del at times, goes above-and-beyond simply spitting 16s and offers some great verses. With that said, Parallel Uni-Verses is not a bad album, but it’s rather inconsistent and fails to distinguish itself amongst other releases in the past month.