The 36th Annual Celebrate Brooklyn music festival is well underway in Prospect Park. The free music series draws in artists from every genre (and generation) of music, ranging from folk to R&B to electro-rock to hip-hop. This year’s series opened with a dynamite performance from Atlanta-based android Janelle Monáe, but last Saturday, everyone’s mind was flashing one word: Deltron.
The supergroup Deltron 3030 was founded in 1999 by Del tha Funkee Homosapien (pictured below right), producer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura (below left), and DJ Kid Koala. Their eponymous debut album, released in 2000, combined off-kilter sample-based production with an intricate science-fiction story penned by Del through dense tongue twisting lyrics and has been dubbed a classic of underground hip-hop. 3030 released a sequel, titled “Event 2,” last year after numerous delays, which they’re currently touring and was the reason for their gig on the Celebrate Brooklyn stage on Saturday night.
The group’s set was preceded by two opening acts. Nomadic Massive, a Montreal-based collective whose style sits firmly in the musical space between the Native Tongues, The Fugees, and Arrested Development, was first up. The multi-cultural group played a lively set culled from equal parts reggae, hip-hop, and rock. They seemed to facilitate a more mellow vibe, park-goers filling up the back while a handful of eager dancers tried to fill the space up front. Nonetheless, they got the crowd amped for more.
The front filled up in a big way as the sun sunk below the grassy hills and Kid Koala came on stage for a solo DJ set before 3030’s. Dressed in a cuddly brown koala costume he had to “wear for 100 shows because he lost a bet,” Koala, real name Eric San, showed off his mastery of the turntable in both scratching ability and musical variety, as likely to bust out electro and rock as he was OutKast or even “Moon River.” The highlight of his set, a song he co-wrote for the TV show Yo Gabba Gabba, established a playful vibe.
Before too long, Del and company descended upon the stage for a night of hip-hopera. Backed by Nakamura dressed to the nines with a sampling pad, Koala’s record scratching, and a 13-piece orchestra, Del spit his lyrics and the crowd went wild. Both albums tell the story of Deltron Zero, a futuristic warrior fighting against the evil corporations that rule the universe in the future, an Afrofuturist fever dream put to rhythm. Deltron 3030 played a set that encompassed their two-album catalog and the crowd ate it up. Their already grandiose and cinematic sound coupled with the orchestra of strings and brass made their music even more immersive on songs like “3030,” “Melding of the Mind,” and “Mastermind.”
During their encore (that the trombone player encouraged the audience to scream for), Deltron performed the Gorillaz song “Clint Eastwood,” which was many people’s first exposure to Del in the first place. Nearly as loud as the mic-wielding performers themselves, the audience screamed the lyrics to the chorus, and all was right with the world.
Hip-hop came back to Brooklyn in fine form through the futuristic antics of Deltron 3030.
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