When ordinary hip-hoppers get famous, they usually bring along their new-money friends and strike while the iron’s hot. For Dan the Automator, producer of Dr. Octagon, Cornershop, Gorillaz, and other unconventional acts, success means waiting 13 years to issue a follow-up and recruiting Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Deltron 3030: Event II, the long-delayed sequel to Dan Nakamura, turntablist Kid Koala and emcee Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s 2000 debut, opens with a spoken monologue by the star, and features cameos by fellow actors David Cross, Amber Tamblyn, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and the Lonely Island. Oh, it also includes restaurant entrepreneur David Chang; MCs Black Rob and Casual; and vocals by Rage Against the Machine’s Zach De La Rocha, Awolnation’s Aaron Bruno, Faith No More’s Mike Patton, Pillowfight’s Emily Wells, Blur’s Damon Albarn and, lastly, jazz smoothie Jamie Cullum.
That kind of talent roster would be utterly top-heavy in lesser hands, but Nakamura’s finely finessed aesthetic specializes in off-the-wall excess: It’s everywhere on this retro-futurist opus. It’s unclear if the jazzy cop-show grooves that appear throughout out are sampled or freshly orchestrated; they sound like the former, but feel like the latter.
Nakamura presides deftly over the affair, keeping all of its disparate parts moving without colliding. Del is similarly dexterous: His flow is easier to follow than his ornate sci-fi superhero story, which is high on details and low on narrative arc, yet his diction and drawl always remain as distinct as Nakamura’s fanciful arrangements and Koala’s equally flamboyant scratches. All three brothers, despite the long hiatus, are right on time — even if it’s more than a little warped.