Reunion albums aren’t supposed to be good. When a group reunites, they usually lose the spark that allowed them to make great music in the first place, and what results is a dull, lifeless album that wasn’t worth the excitement of a reunion in the first place.
Not so with Deltron 3030’s long-awaited Event II, an album whose fate had remained in limbo for so long that it could very well have been the Chinese Democracy of alternative hip-hop. Event II sees rapper Del the Funky Homosapien, producer Dan the Automator, and turntablist Kid Koala reuniting along with a bunch of guest musicians to deliver an album that nearly manages to match their debut.
It’s difficult not to think of Event II as a product of the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent Occupy Wall Street protests. The album’s songs weave a tale of economic collapse and rebellion, painting a target on corporate America’s back. But Event II is a less angry album than its predecessor. There’s less talk about race and discrimination this time around. On Event II, Del mainly raps about class, and at this point “the 99%” is practically a meme. He doesn’t have to get angry and convince anybody of his views; the listener is likely already on his side. That makes Del sound smug at some points, especially on “Nobody Can.” But for the most part, it smooths out the tonal whiplash of the group’s self-titled debut. Every song on this album is pitched at the same kind of tone – righteous but somewhat optimistic – and deals with same kinds of themes.
That could result in a boring album, and it’s true that that Event II doesn’t have the ups and downs of the group’s previous record. But Dan the Automator puts enough variety in his production to keep the proceedings interesting. He still has a knack for merging orchestral music with jazzy undertones, and this time around, he’s added a bit of rock to his arsenal, particularly on the Zack de la Rocha-featuring “Melding of the Minds.” de la Rocha’s hook is the kind of aggressive, punchy refrain that can really elevate a track, and Dan the Automator provides the perfect production to complement his delivery.
Kid Koala’s no slouch either. His subtle scratches provide a wacky, techno-ish undercurrent to songs like “Talent Supercedes” and “The Return.” But the real star here is, of course, Del himself. His lyrics aren’t at their cleverest this time around, but he can still spout tongue-twisters like no other rapper – just take a listen to “Talent Supercedes.”
Interspersed between the main tracks are a few skits and spoken-word passages. The ones by Amber Tamblyn and David Cross are mildly amusing, but they tend to ruin the album’s flow. However, David Chang’s monologue, “The Future of Food,” is placed at exactly the right spot on the album, and it manages to be at once a clever, hilarious, and surprisingly insightful about consumerism.
Overall, Deltron 3030 has another monster of an album on their hands. It’s a funny, intelligent, exhilarating ride from start to finish, and though it’s not as thrillingly weird as its predecessor, it manages to be a worthy sequel in its own right. Sometimes, reunions are totally worth it.