The 55th installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential or favorite hip-hop albums and songs, comes from Harris Pittman, bassist for the Los Angeles-based Henry Clay People, who are playing Crescent Ballroom on Thursday night in support of their new album Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives, out now on TBD Records.
Pittman dissects a not-so-obvious classic, an album whose much-anticipated follow-up is rumored to be finished with a possible release later this year.
Deltron 3030, self-titled
(75 Ark, 2000)
Picking a favorite hip-hop record is – for me at least – a difficult task. I will spare you the obvious favorites from Run DMC, Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest. Picking those groups are like picking The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Nirvana for me, respectively. The importance of their records are well-known, but my go-to record is more like The Soft Bulletin of hip-hop, Deltron 3030. It’s the work of mastermind Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator (Dan Nakamura) and Kid Koala, along with contributions from Damon Albarn and others.
Deltron 3030 is Del and Dan the Automator’s concept album of a dystopian society with only one hope: Deltron Zero. Throughout this tale of hip-hop sci-fi set in the year 3030, Del delivers abstract ideas set against Nakamura’s signature production. Deltron 3030 takes the idea of Nakamura’s previous effort, Dr. Octagon (with Kool Keith), and solidifies his vision with more intelligent and digestible rhymes from Del. Nakamura fuses odd samples, like the hook from the 1970 tune “Of Cities and Escapes” by Canadian pop group The Poppy Family on the track “Madness” to my favorite bass line on the album. The list of abstract samples continues further. Ever heard of the 1968’s “No Silver Bird” by Hooterville Trolley? Me neither.
Deltron 3030, released in 2000, really needs to be heard to understand how out of the box this record is to be fully appreciated. While many of the ideas are futuristic and more 1984 than “Fight the Power,” these tracks stand the test of time and will still be relevant for the next 1,018 years. Put any of them against your choice of mainstream hip-hop “hits” of the last twenty years and Deltron Zero will still remain victorious.