Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Microreview [music]: Deltron 3030 - Event II

Available via: Amazon

The Meat

In The Year 2000, Dan the Automator, Del the Funky Homosapien, and Kid Koala (along with a whole raft of guest stars) made my favorite hip-hop album of all-time, Deltron 3030. The supergroup made a concept album set in the year 3030, where Deltron Zero and Automator were flying through the galaxy on route to an intergalactic rap battle. Along the way, they stopped off at different galactic locales, and the glimpses of the next millennium we got weren't exactly rosy. Corporations and technological determinism had combined into a pretty nasty mixture for humanity. Deltron 3030 was a concept album, but it wasn't slavish about adhering to its concept. There are a ton of verses, and even entire tracks, that read as commentary on the present, and can be listened to outside of the context of the album-as-a-whole. If you haven't listened to the original album, I cannot encourage you highly enough to do so. It'll blow your socks off. It's instupituous.

Now that brings us to the sequel, Event II, which just came out. The good news is, Pitchfork hated it, so you know right off that it's probably pretty good. And it is. On first listen, I was blown away by Dan the Automator's MASSIVE beats and fantastic production, but the songs didn't immediately jump out and differentiate themselves enough to grab me. But after a couple of days away from the album, I realized that I'd been walking around with several hooks from different tracks stuck in my head incessantly. It's impossible to think of this album outside of the context of the first one -- and it doesn't reach those heights -- but on its own merits this is a fantastic album.

Many of the trademark characteristics of the first album are present here: Del's wit and imagination deployed against a dystopian future, jaw-dropping musical compositions from Automator, great guest appearances, especially by Damon Albarn, tongue-in-cheek humor laced throughout, and interstitial skits that are genuinely funny and laid over strong enough music beds that they keep from getting tiresome on repeated listens. It's a darker album than its predecessor, with less humor laced throughout the actual tracks, and it cleaves much more closely to its concept for the duration, but Del is a smart, conscientious guy keenly aware of our modern world, and these are darker times than the late 1990s, when the first album was conceived and recorded. Standout tracks include "Pay the Price," "Melding of the Minds," and "Do You Remember." Kid Koala's turntabling contribution is more present on this album, and it has a wonderful impact on the album as a whole.

So here we are folks -- the year 3040. It took 13 years to get here from the year 3030, but in the future, things aren't running so smoothly.

The Math

Objective Quality: 9/10

Bonuses: +1 for the gigantic beats throughout; +1 for remaining the standard-bearers for nerd-skewing hip-hop. Nerd-hop?

Penalties: -1 for a relative lack of compelling social commentary, when compared with its predecessor; -1 for an odd overuse of echo effects on random words throughout.

Nerd Coefficient: 9/10. Very high quality/standout in its category. Check out our scoring system here. A nine is kind of a big deal.