The music is in the message.
Isn’t that why we listen to hip-hop?
We listen not because we want complex musical patterns, shredding guitar solos or frenetic drumming displays (Of course Quest Love is exempt from this statement). We listen because we want a message. We listen because we want to learn the perspective of somebody with more gifted speaking abilities than ourselves.
Everybody thinks differently and provides different outlooks. The wide variety of content produced by hip-hop artists is a testament to the unique nature of the art form. What other musical genres can claim “Heavy Metal Kings”, “Slow Jamz” and “Shaniqua Don’t Live Here No More”? (Do not listen to that last song. It’s extremely annoying. I’m just trying to prove a point here.) I’ve always wondered the possibilities if Vinnie Paz and Ill Bill ran into Kanye West. Intriguing right? Just imagine the “Gold Digger” remix.
So let’s narrow the focus.
Illmatic gives us insight into black struggle in New York City. Conversation With a Devil tells us about the horrors, glories and adrenaline-infusing risks of selling drugs. Straight Outta Compton gave us the rash, brutal response to strained legal relations in Compton and South Central Los Angeles in the early 90s. These are just three examples of influential hip-hop albums.
But what album can offer us a glance into the future?
Welcome to Year 3030.
Del the Funky Homosapien has established himself as a prominent figure in the hip-hop community predominantly through his work with Oakland-based Hieroglyphics, but is famously nomadic with his work. It could be argued that if not for his work in “Clint Eastwood”, Gorillaz would not have achieved anything close to what they have. “Feel Good Inc.” would have sucked without Del’s verses (in my slightly humble opinion).
Del’s Deltron 3030, originally released in 2000, is an underground classic because of it’s fascinating perspective about the direction of the world as we know it.
In short, this is Del’s Orwellian nightmare. A foray into the unknown.
The album opens with a chillingly quiet wind, a bleak introduction for the world that you are about to enter.
We then come to learn about life in 3030. Technology has developed, but we are under constant government surveillance, it is unwise to trust anybody, and instead of a harmonious future, we are thrown into a post-Apocalyptic struggle.
Del’s lyrical prowess and his intelligence are both on display in this work, but the true brilliance of the album comes from its release date.
It comes as no surprise that some rappers like to get political. Immortal Technique’s “Bush Knocked Down the Towers” exemplifies the powerful messages that rappers can send even if the songs contain tremendous factual errors.
The Bush Administration, for better or worse, drove several rappers to integrate politics into their bodies of work. The prevailing notion that Neo-Conservative movement (symbolized by Bush) suppressed minorities spurred an influx of political hip-hop.
And Del predated all of it.
Deltron was released during the end of the Clinton Administration, long before the divisive 2000 election, 9/11, Katrina, the NSA Wiretaps and the War in Iraq. More importantly, the internet in 2000 was nowhere near as influential or powerful as it is today. Listen to “Virus” and then tell me if you think this album was authored in 2000.
Aided by some skits, Del emphasizes the power of globalization and heightened technology and the impending future with these developments.
This album leaves different impressions on virtually everybody, so my best advice would be to enjoy this one when you have time to yourself (i.e. Take a walk, lie on your bed, I don’t know… Just don’t multitask the first time you listen to this joint).
Wrap your mind around what is a dark and poignant message about the austere future cast by one Oakland rapper.