Ever find yourself wondering what sort of science fiction shenanigans will be defining the world by the year 3030? Thankfully, Deltron 3030: Event II is here to answer those pressing queries. Comprised of lead rap voice Del, audio architect Dan the Automator and scratch master Kid Koala, the Deltron team recorded the fan favorite Deltron 3030 album back in the archaic year of 2000 and now, for the sequel, they’ve upped the production values, expanded the ambit of the story and increased the skit factor (plus roped in cohorts David Cross, Amber Tamblyn, and the Lonely Island wags for assistance along the way). It adds up to an engaging future shock in the form of a hip-hop concept album.
So with Deltron 3030: Event II released this week, Hive tapped up Dan and Del to give up an insider’s guide to enjoying and understanding the Event II experience. Now pass the pork buns…
1. The story is inspired by George Orwell
Del: I wrote the raps, basically, which is pretty much the bulk of the story. To tell the truth, when I first was conceptualizing the album myself a buddy of mine…. we were on AIM at the time and we just texted back and forth different ideas for two or three hours and then from there I started taking it apart over the years. My main inspiration would probably be “Star Wars” but the concrete underlying thing is “1984” by George Orwell. That’s been an influential book for me since as a kid. There’s no specific lyrical references to it on the album — we don’t really be working like that — but it’s the same mentality about Big Brother being in control of everything and pretty soon you won’t have any sort of privacy or personal say in your life ’cause government is all up in your life. That was the idea — to get people to think for yourself.
2. Deltron isn’t actually set in any specific year
Del: It’s kinda between 3030 and 3040. I don’t really specify — I keep it real loose. That’s ’cause I wanted to have some sort of time passage to where these things occur. Over time, all the wars the planet was undergoing have basically wiped out everything to the point where technology has now taken over. Everything was so corrupted and everything fell apart; criminals are running the streets, cops can’t come and save you, it’s barely a place you can even live. It’s dystopian. That’s the future.
3. Real world political events also helped shape the story
Dan the Automator: There were some current events and things with political overtones that inspired the record. This goes back to 2001 when we were first talking about it, and they became part of the story of the record. We looked at things like 9/11 and things like the banks collapsing and the real estate collapse, and things like civil unrest and places where social media have started to play a part in this like with Twitter and also more on a mass scale like Occupy Wall Street. These things aren’t referenced specifically on the album, but they’re the underlying part of it.
4. A darker Deltron 1.5 briefly existed
Del: We started recording and I lost most of my lyrics — my harddrive crashed or something — so I actually wrote a lot in the studio and Dan had given me a slew of beats from before, which is what I wrote to at first. But then he came through with some newer beats and that inspired me to write some new stuff. So a lot of the stuff we did early didn’t make it. Those early lyrics didn’t really have too much difference with the concept and since I already wrote the lyrics I was in a groove; even though I had lost that first batch I had still already wrote them so it was a chance to make it better. At that point all my stuff was dark and Dan and Kid Koala were like, “Maybe you might want to add something to make it a little more fun-loving or make it brighter over here, just to add to the overall tone of the album.”
5. Deltron knows what the future of food will be
Dan the Automator: [Chef] David Chang is a friend of mine — actually, everyone on the skits and the record is a friend of mine, which is how we chose them — and the record can be a little intense so I wanted people to have a release from it all. So I asked David to be on a skit. David Chang is at the forefront of food now and he’d be at the forefront of food in 3040 if he was cryogenically frozen, so it seemed to make sense. According to Dave the food of the future is going to be beet salad and pork buns.
6. Approach Deltron as a rock opera more than a rap album
Del: I’d compare the album to rock more than I’d compare it to rap, per se. The production on the album goes beyond that — I’m rapping, but it’s more of something that you’d hear from a rock album or like a rock opera. It’s the same with George Clinton, too, ’cause he has his space opera with Parliament. We’re in that zone.
Dan the Automator: We’ve been going out doing some shows with an orchestra — drums, keys, guitar, turntable — and I never really knew if we could pull it off but it’s great. I used so many instruments to record the album so to see that translate to the live show is amazing. There’s probably never gonna be another rap show like this.
7. Lonely Island are serious about their rap music
Dan the Automator: Obviously Andy Samberg does the most rapping but they’re all really big hip-hop heads. It’s interesting ’cause as they do their thing and you watch them get ready to record, it all comes from a place of being actually really big hip-hop fans. It comes from a real hip-hop place. It adds that extra level of depth to what they do, I guess.
8. Reminisce through the art of lawnchair quarterbacking
Dan the Automator: Once you get David Cross and Amber Tamblyn talking about back in the day, like the 2900s, it shifts the whole thing about what you’re listening to. It’s painting a picture as to what goes on in 2040 for the everyday person and how things have changed. There’s a little musical riff in the background that was just me playing around with the drum machine trying to make my version of what a 3040 vaudeville would be.
9. Deltron is best enjoyed with a healthy does of cynicism
Del: The introduction [by Joseph Gordon-Levitt] talks about some mythical beats like the Loch Ness Monster but, come on man, hell no I don’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster! I don’t believe in that, I don’t believe in the Yeti, I don’t believe in Sasquatch, I don’t believe in Chupacabra, none of that shit! I think it’s something that these people are seeing and that they are recording, but it’s not those things, you know? I’m pretty cynical about stuff at times.
10. Don’t look for clues for Deltron 3…
Del: You know what, I’m a tell you like this: People that like Deltron better get Deltron now ’cause it’s such a production to make! It was 13 years to do this sequel! Imagine how long it would take to do one better than this? Imagine how much more work it would take? Then on top of that, once you start making a third version people know they get weaker and weaker each time you make a sequel, like Die Hard 7 or whatever, it’s like at this point you’re just trying to get money out of my pocket. And you know, me and Dan and Kid Koala can definitely come up with more exciting original things.