Robert Del Naja, also known as 3D, is an English artist and musician. Initially gaining notoriety as a graffiti artist and member of the Bristol collective known as "The Wild Bunch", Del Naja went on to become a founding member of the band Massive Attack, where he is still active.
With their roots in the Bristol, England, club scene of the early '80s, the members of Massive Attack originated trip-hop, one of the most influential sounds of the '90s, combining the rhythmic urgency of hip-hop, the freewheeling samples of the DJ's craft, soul-rich melodies, and dub-reggae's hefty, intoxicating bottom end.
The group began in 1983 as a loose collective of singers, rappers, DJs, and producers that staged parties under the name the Wild Bunch. Included in its ranks were Mushroom (Andrew Vowles) and Daddy G (Grant Marshall), as well as Nellee Hooper (later of Soul II Soul, and a producer for Madonna, Björk, and others), and Tricky [see entry]. The Wild Bunch released a 1986 cover of Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love," which became a European dance-club sensation, just as legal authorities began to clamp down on the Bristol party circuit. In 1987 graffiti artist 3-D (Robert Del Naja) joined Daddy G and Mushroom to form Massive Attack. A series of singles led to the 1991 release of Blue Lines, which featured an array of vocalists —including Shara Nelson, Tricky, and reggae singer Horace Andy —and promoted a somnambulatory beat that ran counter to the hyped-up dance rhythms of techno. On its 1994 followup, Protection, the group enlisted Everything But the Girl vocalist Tracey Thorn, who lent a jazzier feel and contributed songs, with additional vocals from Andy, Tricky, and Nigerian singer Nicolette. The next year saw the release of No Protection: Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor, a radical remix of Protection in league with the antic British reggae producer. Three years later, the group followed with Mezzanine (#60, pop), with guest vocalists Andy, Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, and Sara Jay. The same year, an 11-CD box set, Singles 90/98, compiled remixes of a career's worth of singles. Mushroom left to pursue a solo career.
This biography originally appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001).