Deltron 3030′s 2000 self-titled debut was a boldly imagined concept LP about wayward oligarchs and interplanetary mercenaries. The three-song City Rising from the Ashes is not that, and also transparently not a work of the same hard-earned vision. Instead, journeyman MC Del the Funky Homosapien, veteran beatmaker Dan the Automator, and Vancouver-born turntablist Kid Koala – a lineup that resembled something like an alternative hip-hop supergroup at the turn of the century – have picked up where they left off, without bothering to evolve, even if the new stuff is supposedly set in the year 4010, a near-millennium after their last release.
Del, one of the West Coast’s all-time great rappers in terms of easy fluidity, lets his tendency for writing prolix, prosaic lyrics get the better of him here. It’s not inherently a problem that he fills the tracks with three-syllable words and doesn’t actually rhyme much, but considering the air of elitism that proved problematic on last year’s Parallel Thought team-up Attractive Sin is also present here, we’re talking barely salvageable verbiage. Dan and Koala’s productions – peals of concise horns and familiar breakbeats, usually accompanied by background scratches – lack color, and the 41-year-old Del’s faulty delivery at the front of things highlights the weak musical core.
City Rising from the Ashes is at its lowest when it devolves into affectless message music, as on “Pay the Price”. “He said ‘One for you, more for me,’” Del raps, unimaginatively impersonating the taxman that has been appearing vivdly in popular music since, well, you know the one. At best, this is a release worth checking out only for longtime Deltron fans, though it’s easy to imagine even those listeners finding these concepts too tired.
Essential Tracks: N/A