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Event 2

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Getting the cautions out of the way first, Event 2 is a sequel through and through, a 2013 return to the future world that rapper Del the Funky Homosapien, producer Dan the Automator, and DJ Kid Koala created with the project's groundbreaking, self-titled concept album debut. Those unfamiliar with the 2000 release should certainly get hip before tackling this excellent follow-up, which often feels like a tribute or celebration of the original. Here, high-profile guests enthusiastically play their roles in the style of the Deltron mythos, where Del's alter ego Deltron Zero fights against the inter-planetary and evil corporations that now run the universe. It's all delivered with Automator providing a '70s-scaled, sci-fi soundtrack where strings suggest a satellite's POV shot of Earth as Koala cuts it up hip-hop style, pushing Del -- whose voice has mellowed significantly since the first album -- to spit lyrics that are a mix of comic, comic book, and Kool Keith. Saturday Night Live splinter group the Lonely Island pay tribute and get in the spirit ("Back in the day before time travel was easy-peasy/Now we change history like the fetus measlesly") on their awesome interlude "Back in the Day," while skits with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Cross, and Amber Tamblyn bring Hollywood to underground hip-hop, because, it turns out, Deltron's first funktastic blow against the empire actually worked. Speaking of, first album guest Damon Albarn returns on the floating and depressed astronaut number "What Is This Loneliness," the chilly polar opposite of key cut "Melding of the Minds," where Zack De La Rocha and the Deltron crew re-invent rock-rap for the better. The true hip-hop highlight award goes to "Talent Supercedes," where Del and Black Rob blast over a cut that's one-part RZA, one-part James Brown, but Del alone is a monster as well, jamming the early solo cuts "Return" and "Pay the Price" with kinetic, strange, and inspired lines that suggest he thought 13 years was 12 too many. Newcomers can feed off this energy and all the wonderful moments within, but Deltron veterans will get the most out of this return, as their cherished classic goes from secret to high-profile, all while keeping the legacy intact. ~ David Jeffries