Grouchy holiday music
Del the Funky Homosapien and the Grouch perform at the 11th annual How the Grouch Stole Christmas
Before exploding nationwide, Del the Funky Homosapien’s tracks were traded around on dubbed cassette tapes at his Oakland high school. Future artist The Grouch attended that same school, Skyline High, when he listened to Del rapping with legendary crew Hieroglyphics.
“The Hiero crew was close to home—backpacks and skater rappers,” said The Grouch, real name Corey Scoffern. “It was so cool someone close to me was making this.”
“I remember realizing: This is possible.”
Now, Grouch and Del are touring for the 11th annual How the Grouch Stole Christmas, a holiday reunion of NorCal’s largest hip-hop artists also featuring DJ Fresh and DJ Abilities.
Though they studied in nearby classrooms, the two didn’t meet until Grouch’s mid-’90s group, Living Legends, rose to prominence. The commercially and critically successful collective of independent rappers focused on hard work over glam rap, uniting eight fluid hip-hop narrators across California. All told, they sold “300,000 units,” according to L.A. Weekly—not too shabby for an indie collective.
But they haven’t released an album since 2005’s Classic, and the group went on hiatus in 2012 after two decades of performing. In 2015, they briefly reunited and toured with artists including Zion I.
The emcees from Living Legends and Hieroglyphics differ in their business approaches: Living Legends grew without a label, while Hieroglyphics took off after all the members lost major record deals.
Their lyrical storytelling unifies them. It’s soul-rejuvenating hip-hop, bringing down-to-earth, intricate, offbeat verses that are grounded in freestyle.
Last year, Living Legends celebrated the 10th anniversary of Grouch’s holiday show. Grouch said it was—like the holidays—unabashedly about family.
When the tour started in 2006, Grouch said he wanted to showcase independent up-and-comers alongside veterans he thought should be heard more. This year, Grouch and Del will perform along with DJ Abilities (known as one of the Midwest’s best rap battlers), DJ Fresh and underground rapper Reverie, among others.
While they’ll bring their own sets, Grouch said he’s moved to perform with Del. Called one of hip-hop’s last true enigmas, the Oakland cult-hero defined his own style after writing for his well-known cousin, Ice Cube. Del dropped rhymes as a high-plains drifter on Gorillaz’ song “Clint Eastwood.” To each project, he brings humor, funk and experimentation.
The Grouch also admires Sacramento native Mozzy, and he gets the feeling Sac is coming alive: “The fire and independent spirit he has … I respect that.” Grouch said that the same dedication to his own style is what carried his group—and music—forward.
“For lack of a better term: It is what it is,” he said.
Del wasn’t available to comment. But he did respond via tweet: “It’s about to be slappin’. Let em know.”