Deltron 3030
What is this Loneliness (ft. Damon Albarn & Casual)

In 2000, Del the Funky Homosapien, of the Hieroglyphics and Gorillaz, teamed up with producer Dan the Automator and turntablist Kid Koala to create Deltron 3030. Their self-titled debut, a futuristic tale of Deltron Zero fighting for the people, was hailed by many as one of the top underground rap albums of all time. Thirteen years later, after endless anticipation and speculation from fans, the trio has returned, this time in 3040.

Event 2 opens with a fittingly dramatic monologue from Inception‘s Joseph Gordon Levitt before Del picks up on “The Return” right where he left off. In the year 3040, greed and corruption have brought human civilization to a backwards, anarchical crossroads. Deltron Zero, riding his stream-of-conscious storytelling flow, journeys the future’s hazardous terrain surprisingly smoothly for someone who, in both this tale and reality, has nearly become a mythical character. The sonic background created by Dan the Automator, who actually finished the production circa 2008, proves timeless once again with influences ranging from classical to funk.

While the first installment held minimal features, Del brought on a number of friends this time around including strong collaborations from members of AWOLNATION and Rage Against the Machine. His reunion with Damon Albarn on “What is this Loneliness,” which you can stream above, proves to be one of Event 2‘s high points holding the distinctly strange Gorillaz flare. The Lonely Island, of SNL fame, even make an extended appearance for comic relief, a random inclusion that fairs alright. Even with the array of personnel on nearly every track, Del carries the majority of the narrative and creative direction making for a truly interesting, and mostly smooth, melding of styles.

There are a number of layers to unwrap while listening to this project. The immediate temptation is to compare it with its highly regarded predecessor, which is a rather unfair benchmark in this case. Given its been over a dozen years since the last outing, Event 2, even with its occasional faults, proves far more than something done just for the sake of a sequel. Within the rapidly changing environment of hip-hop, it is pretty impressive to successfully carry over a sound more than a decade without losing relevance. Del and the Automator are able to achieve this because their style was not so much produced by the trends of their time in the first place, but rather their own fresh approach.

Musically, Event 2 is refreshing, while simultaneously relevant to the latest class of ultra-creative emcees. On a broader level, the themes and social commentary embedded in this tale seem to be even more applicable today based on the tumult the new millennium has seen–from widening income gaps to worldwide social uprisings. The symbolism in Del’s Orwellian tale displays the depth of creative potential for the hip-hop format as a means of expression.

It’s not often you see rappers take on concept albums of this magnitude successfully, let alone do it twice, and Event 2 is far from a disappointment. Check out some of our favorite tracks above and, if you’re feeling it, you can cop over at iTunes.

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