The year is 3040…no, wait its 2013. Although only a decade has past in the post-apocalyptic world of Deltron Zero and Automator, it has been 13 years since Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator, and Kid Koala‘s debut album–one of the greatest hip hop concept album of all time. Following up such an album is no easy task and especially after more than a decade.
For their part, the trio does their best to recreate the original album while updating many of the components. Joseph Gordon-Levitt replaces Damon Albarn for the intro, but fear not the Gorillaz frontman shows up later on the album on the track “What Is Loneliness.” Instead of goofy skits with MC Paul Barman and Mr. Lif, Lonely Island and David Cross/Amber Tamblyn take over those duties.
The only thing that does not seem updated is the album’s sound. Filled with Dan the Automator signature sound, packed with horns, strings, and funk and boom bap drum tracks. Kid Koala adds his touches of scratching which deepens the classic hip hop vibe and Del does what Del does best. Spinning a tales of post-apocalyptic earth, Del’s sci-fi allegory takes on the disappearing middle class, genetically modified food, and government overreach. Although the story is not nearly as cohesive as on the debut, Del’s cadence and vibrato are.
Tracks like “The Return” and “Talent Supersedes” are equally enjoyable for the fine production as for Del’s lyrical content. The album builds with slightly angstier tracks like the Zach De La Rocha-featured track “Melding of the Minds” about psychic warfare and the self-anointing “Nobody Can” featuring AWOL Nation.
As the album winds down, sandwiched between ballads “What Is Loneliness” and “Do You Remember” is the album’s climax, “City Rising From the Ashes.” The track’s hopeful tone breaks the dystopia Del has painted and shown what a saved planet can be like. His lyrics are complement by the best production work from Automator since his work with Head Automatica.
Ending with such an upswing really cements the album as a fitting successor to Deltron 3030‘s debut. Although not every track or a skit is a classic, enough are mixed in to please any fan of the trio.