Tag Archives: rap

Event II

Few fans have suffered as long as the followers of Deltron 3030. Sure, Fiona Apple fans have been left waiting 6 or 7 years between albums. But it’s been 13 years since the original Deltron 3030 was released/unleashed upon the world. So was it worth the wait? Is the sequel as good as the original? Well…

I hate to start it like that, but the answer is just no, not quite. It’s still a good album, but I think the bar was set impossibly high by the original. And, considering all the rumors and tidbits from interviews over the years that promised the album was coming “soon,” I think the concept just kind of fell apart over those 13 years. It got put back together again, but the original vision was lost somewhere along the way.

Event II picks up 10 years (in story time) after its predecessor. Joseph Gordon Levitt narrates the intro, describing a world that has fallen into disarray and despair during our heroic duo’s absence. (The heroic duo being Deltron Zero and Dan the Automator, of course.) Then one day, they return. In the cinematic first track, Del describes the state of the planet, a strange new world to him now. Anarchy has overthrown the government, but not in the way he originally envisioned. Criminals rule the land, which has been utterly destroyed by nuclear war. Technology, which was once supposed to create a bright future, has now sent the people back to a more primitive and lawless era. Imagine the Wild West set in a post-nuclear fallout landscape. Music has now been banned completely, and nobody seems to care. Del steps forward now, no longer the rebel he once was but a messiah of sorts.

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It all paints a wonderful picture, and as the album progresses, the tracks get even better. But overall, the story just isn’t as strong. I haven’t been able to figure it out yet. I get that Del is dismayed by the audacity of the criminals he encounters and shocked by the complacency of the people who just accept the world the way it is. But it doesn’t have that same structure as the first album. There’s no final showdown/conflict and resolution that I can make out.

Still, the album is very ambitious, and littered with guest appearances by celebrities and fellow musicians. My favorite tracks have been “My Only Love” (featuring Emily Wells), “What Is This Loneliness” (with Damon Albarn), and “Do You Remember” (with Jamie Cullum).The spoken interludes featuring Amber Tamblyn and David Cross are delightfully hilarious. Chef David Chang’s bit may be my favorite though. He goes on and on about how great technology is and how it’s created the most amazing culinary concoctions…and yet his customers only want beet salads and pork buns. It really solidifies that picture of a future where people are satisfied with mediocrity. They’re comfortable with mediocrity, and who knows what will happen if they step out of that comfort zone? Maybe something good, but maybe something bad too. Better to stick with what they know.

All things considered, the thematic contrast between Deltron 3030 and Event II reminds me a bit of this infographic comparing the different futures predicted by George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. To me, they match up respectively. For that reason, I think that Event II is worth a listen.

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Deltron 3030

Deltron 3030 (by the hip hop supergroup of the same name) is one of my favorite albums of all time. Easily in the top five. It changed everything I thought I knew about rap (and maybe even music itself). Yes, to me, it is that good, that influential.

After the spoken intro (“State of the Nation”), the first track (“3030”) had me immersed in a totally strange and new world within the first minute. Within the second minute, my mind was blown. Obliterated. And I still had five and a half minutes to go! I listen to it now and can’t even imagine how I handled it. I’m sorry for all the hyperbole, but I really can’t help it. This album had that much of an effect on me, and still does.

Deltron 3030 is a concept album set in the dystopian future of the year 3030, where the world is ruled by a corrupt government and music is controlled and mass-produced by corporations who care more about the money than the meaning. Enter our hero, Deltron Zero, a former mech soldier turned outlaw, who wants to bring the true meaning back to the music and thus, bring real freedom back to the people. In this world, music has power, if one knows how to wield it, and being a technological and psionic prodigy, Deltron is determined to do so. The opportunity presents itself in the form of the Intergalactic Rap Battle, and the stage for our story is set…

That’s about the best summary I can give for this album, because it’s so much more than just a story. It’s not just a concept album, you see. It’s kind of a meta-album. Though it was produced in the year 2000, the concepts of Delton 3030 still hold up pretty well overall. It’s very much a commentary on the music industry and how the captivity of creativity can lead to the captivity of freedom.

It’s even got a bit of anti-capitalist sentiment, which is not what you might expect, generally, when you think of mainstream rap. Think of the stereotypical music videos featuring rappers in fur coats with their diamond-studded necklaces, lounging in jacuzzis with gorgeous women, rolling down the street in expensive cars. That’s not Deltron 3030 at all, and it certainly isn’t Deltron Zero, who lives in a future where those people are fake, the enemies of freedom and creativity. Those are the people he wants to destroy, and so he does.

Aurally, the album is a real treat. Producer Dan the Automator paints a vivid world with sound (with some fun, well-timed scratches by DJ Kid Koala) in which the rhymes penned by Del the Funky Homosapien have room to thrive. It’s thanks to Del that all my preconceptions about rap were destroyed. Layers of wordplay, double meanings, and sci-fi references abound, rolling off his tongue effortlessly; it’s impossible to take them all in in just one listen.

If you’re the kind of person who grimaces at the suggestion of rap, I challenge you to listen to this album. And really listen to it. It’s not something that’s just meant to be played in the background–certainly not the first time you hear it.

If you’re the kind of person who says rap isn’t really music, I say that that’s like saying poetry isn’t really writing. Can you do it? And can you do it well? It takes skill. It’s an art form. And Deltron 3030 proves that it’s not something to be easily dismissed.

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