The pairing of West Coast hip-hop godfather Del The Funky Homosapien and taste-making East Coast label Definitive Jux incited fevered anticipation for Del’s 2008 comeback album Eleventh Hour, his first new release since 2000’s Both Sides Of The Brain. As is so often the case with contemporary hip-hop, fevered anticipation predictably led to glum disappointment when the disc turned out to be a minimalist snoozer that left fans nostalgic for the G-funk beats and goofy good humor of Del’s early albums. Del die-hards should be careful what they wish for. As its title suggests, Golden Era is an overt return to the grooves, attitude, and lyrical obsessions of his first albums.
From the first words of “Break The Bank,” Del The Funky Homosapien is on the offensive, in full-on battle rap-attack form. But he isn’t a skinny 18-year-old kid rapping about the frustrations of riding the bus or personal hygiene anymore, and the puerile insults he’s long trafficked in can’t help but seem a little regressive coming from a middle-aged man. True, Golden Era is intentionally regressive in its return to Del’s distant past, but the tracks that deviate from the aggressive battle-rap template register most powerfully, like the reflective, laid-back, nostalgic “One Out Of A Million.” Del takes a trip down memory lane on Golden Era, but it’s never as special or profound the second time around.