Robert Del Naja (3D)
From Massive Wiki
Robert Del Naja (born 21 January 1965, in Bristol, UK), also known as 3D, is an artist and musician. Originally famous as a graffiti artist and a member of the Bristol group known as The Wild Bunch, Del Naja went on to become a founding member of Massive Attack in addition to working with James Lavelle as a collaborator on the UNKLE albums Never, Never, Land and War Stories.
Del Naja is one of the founding members of Bristol collective Massive Attack, who burst onto the dance scene with their debut album Blue Lines to considerable praise from critics and listeners alike. The second album, Protection, featured more usage of string music and an additional dub feel.
Massive Attack's next album was titled Mezzanine and featured a move to a more guitar based sound. Del Naja has said "it was more my direction on this record." However he has also admitted that he got his own way by "being stubborn, throwing tantrums — the usual fucking childish behaviour." It also features more of Robert's own voice particularly on songs such as 'Inertia Creeps' and 'Risingson'. 'Inertia Creeps' was influenced by Del Naja's experiences in Istanbul, and the whole of the album has strong beats from various cultures.
100th Window, Massive Attack's fourth album, was effectively a solo project for Del Naja. It attracted some mixed reviews, which included some wholehearted praise. Stylus Magazine, for example, said: "100th Window is a masterpiece of its kind" and it "sounds fresh and wondrous."
His vocal performance is very distinctive, spoken in an almost whisper, with an echo effect applied over the top. In addition to his work with Massive Attack, he provided vocals to "Invasion" on UNKLE's album Never, Never, Land, and Twilight on War Stories.
Del Naja was a young graffiti artist before becoming a vocalist. Indeed his first ever live gig was as a DJ accompanying artwork he had produced in a gallery in Bristol. He has produced work in various different media, and has published a book of his art. His work has been featured in magazines and on record sleeves.
He took part in the largest ever British graffiti art battle alongside Wolverhampton artist Goldie.
Del Naja has two Massive Attack tattoos; one of the 'Blue Lines' "flame" on his left arm, and a larger one similar to the beetle on the cover of 'Mezzanine'. Del Naja also created the cover art for UNKLE's 2007 album War Stories which also inspired an exhibition 'War Paint'
Musical Scene and Artistic Peers
Robert Del Naja's music, be it in the Wild Bunch or in Massive Attack has always been associated with the Bristol Sound, and perhaps even typifies it. He has also worked with other Bristol based artists such as Tricky and Roni Size.
Robert has said of the Bristol Scene "We all grew up listening to punk music and funk stuff and those attitudes sort of snuck into our music. That sort of brought people from different circles together and maybe it wasn't as 'cultural melting pot' as it all sounds but because Bristol is quite a small place, it becomes a lot more focused then."
Del Naja is a key member of the wider Bristol Urban Culture scene.
Del Naja is - perhaps notoriously - open in his views, and has no qualms about criticising government policy. He was strongly opposed to the 2003 war against Iraq, and with fellow musician Damon Albarn personally paid for full page adverts in the NME.
In 2005 Del Naja organised and performed at a charity concert in Bristol for Tsunami Relief with Adrian Utley and Geoff Barrow of Portishead. The two night event featured Massive Attack, Portishead, Robert Plant, The Coral and Damon Albarn and raised over £100,000.
Difficulties with Bandmates
There were numerous clashes between the three members of Massive Attack. As InnerView has stated: "Their combative arguments, tantrums and personality clashes that came to a head during the making of Mezzanine are no secret. The ongoing battle was splashed across the covers of every British music magazine, each making hysterical claims about having "the most revealing story" about the oh-so-sordid situation...Because of their ever-emerging personal differences, the trio refuses to engage the press together"