Remember when this album was coming out in 2007?
In a way, Event II arrives with a clean slate. Three years after Deltron 3030, the prospect of a second album was thrilling. Six years after, it was anticipated with a hope perhaps somewhat tempered by time. Thirteen years later? Heck, it’s a whole new world. 2000, the year Deltron 3030 came out, Stankonia and The Marshall Mathers LP were some of the genre-typifying releases. In contrast, Event II comes out in a year ruled by Drake, Kanye, and, of course, Jay-Z.
What does a shift in hip hop mean for Koala, Automator, and the Funky Homosapien?
A glance at the track listing might get the hip hop fan’s hackles up. The Lonely Island? The dude from Awolnation? The cheerleader from Tarantino’s Death Proof, on two tracks? Not exactly hip hop royalty. In fact, not exactly hip hop. But a glance at 3030 should put those fears to rest. Did you remember Brad Roberts of Crash Test Dummies on vocals? How about Sean Lennon?
And that’s a clue to what a shift in hip hop means to the Deltron 3030 crew: they’re just gonna keep doing their thing, and keep knocking it out of the park.
Event II is a joy, one that reminds us what a hip hop album can be. It’s loud, opinionated, and unabashedly political. It’s showy and enormously fun. It’s innovative but deeply respectful of the genre. And the skits are funny as hell.
It’s the kind of album that feels like all too rare an experience when it ends. It’s themed, it’s structured, and when we reach the end, the last track fades away like the last paragraph of a novel — words that we want to hang onto, to re-experience, words that seem to have grown out of the work as a whole. It is complete. For once, we’re not asked to shape our understanding of a hip hop artist out of a series of tracks that relate at best tangentially; this album has a point to make, and it makes it.
And, of course, it’s great hip hop.
Del is self-assured as ever, a calm, coherent voice navigating us through the wide-ranging territory of the album’s imagined future world with a mix of storytelling, straightforward lyrical prowess, and imaginative jumbles of physics and pseudo-physics. The delight in science in Del’s lyrics borders on pornographic in its enjoyment, whether he’s waxing poetic on an electromagnetic level, or deconstructing contemporary society sociologically. The album’s sound, too, is a very welcome extension of 3030’s sound; fans of ‘90s underground are sure to greet many of these tracks with a warm smile the second the beat drops.
Will this album please everyone? Almost definitely not. Deltron 3030 has always been a weird wavelength to get on, and in some ways, they ask quite a lot from their listeners. If nothing else, though, Event II is sure to be different from any other album you might pick up this year… heck, probably this decade. And for my money, you should definitely pick it up.