In the 13 years since its release, the first Deltron 3030 record has achieved a sort of cult myth. It's the kind of album devotees share in hushed tones. “Wait, you've never heard Deltron 3030? Sit down.” A followup has been teased for years, but release dates came and went. Finally this summer, actual tracks started to trickle in, and then a few weeks ago: Event II.
By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor
It's probably unfair to compare Event II to Deltron 3030. Not only is the first record a visionary masterpiece of alt-hip-hop, but it's had 13 years for every rhyme and every beat to become firmly fixed in memory. Thankfully, as long awaited sequels go, Event II is more JJ Abram's Star Trek than Phantom Menace.
All the original players are in place. Dan the Automator and Kid Koala's beats may be firmly locked in turn of the millennium production but they still sound years ahead of their time. Del's Gorillaz bandmate Damon Albarn makes an inspired appearance along with other people who were popular in 2000, like Rage Against the Machine frontman Zach de la Rocha on standout “Melding of the Minds.”
The only thing missing is Deltron 3030's incisive humor. There are jokes in Event II, but the story is too serious and quasi apocalyptic in this installment for them to play. A lot has changed in 13 years (take 30 seconds and remember a time before George W. Bush's presidency. Feeling better?), and the social commentary of Event II requires a darker tone. Where there are punchlines, they don't land in the same way the first album's did. Instead of adding a counterpoint to the story, the skits end up feeling distracting, and (as is increasingly the case) the Lonely Island guest “Back in the Day” is one joke stretched a little too long.
But Del's humor has always been more about offbeat charm than actual punchlines. And his bizarre hyper dense rhymes still have yet to find an equal (Open Mike Eagle is probably the closest out there) So if the “why is this here?” of “The Future of Food” is the price to pay for something as equally tight and left-field as “City Rising From the Ashes,” who are we to question Del the Funkee Homosapien's muse? 13 years and Deltron 3030 may have lost the punchlines, but they've found a surprising new level of depth. If this is what 3040 sounds like, I anxiously await 3050.