After the runaway cult success of Dr. Octagon, an out-of-nowhere 1995 record that teamed Kool Keith with DJ Q-Bert and producer Dan The Automator, the relationship between the crew went sour. While everyone’s got a different take on what really went down, Automator never looked back, and moved forward with a similar kind of project called Deltron 3030, released in the year 2000. The concept of this record was that of a bleak future, as told by Del The Funky Homosapien (aka Deltron Zero), DJ Kid Koala, and king of the beats, Automator, behind the boards. The album helped reinvent Del, much like Dr. Octagon did for Kool Keith, and was another underground smash.
Thirteen years later (damn, it’s been that long??!), the Deltron 3030 collective celebrates their second coming with Event 2, picking up right where the last project left off. The group’s take on the future – stardate 3040 – Del paints a vivid picture of a gloomy world that has been directly affected by today’s problems, i.e. corporate greed, golden parachutes, pollution, racism, classism, etc.
The album begins with an intro by J. Gordon-Levitt, who explains what has happened to the planet since the disappearance of Del and Automator, leading into the epic, six minute magnum opus, “The Return”. Here, Del describes the post-post-apocalyptic setting, while Automator builds a sweeping, etheral track that travels in several different directions, before coming back full circle. Ladies and gentlemen, Deltron 3030 has returned.
The album is much like many of Dan’s post-Deltron works, such as Gorillaz or Handsome Boy Modelling School, as it’s built around collaborations with several of the usual suspects from those projects. Most of these work perfectly, such as the melancholy Damon Albarn / Casual collabo, “What Is This Loneliness” or “City Rising From The Ashes” alongside Mike Patton. The same can be said for “Look Across The Sky” (feat. Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and “My Only Love” (feat. Emily Wells), both driven by somber female vocals, working well in a post-trip-hop landscape. Songs like the funky “Nobody Can” (feat. Aaron Bruno of Awol Nation) and “Talent Superscedes” (feat. Black Rob) throwback to the classic 90′s hip-hop sounds Del’s career was built upon, yet hardly sound dated or “retro”.
In true fashion, the album is sewn together with a series of cheeky skits from various comedians such as David Cross and The Lonely Island, whom commentate on the children of the future, as grumpy old folks of that era. The skits are mind-bendingly ironic, as they metaphorically poke fun at the state of today’s youth, but do so from the perspective of tomorrow’s. Also notable here is Kid Koala’s subtle cut contributions, whose one of kind scratch style acts as the proverbial cherry-on-top.
The original Deltron 3030 album captured a small, specific, yet dedicated audience, many of whom at this point have moved on to other things, like careers and kids. While a legendary record in its own right, it’s curious if these fans still keep up with underground culture, and if they will come back out of the woodwork for Deltron 3030′s return. For the younger generation, Del’s super-scientifical rhymes may go over the heads of kids raised on today’s hip-hop, so it’s hard to say how successful the project will ultimately be. But it’s irrelevant in either case; this is music from the future.
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