... there was Deltron 3030.
Thanks to KEXP for introducing me to these guys! It's interesting to listen to their debut album Deltron 3030 and spot the genesis of the Gorillaz' sound.
I must confess that most of the rapping by Del Tha Funkee Homosapien seems lame to me. (I don't really like his lyrics and style of delivery).
Some songs stand out and are worth listening to, though: Mastermind (great sample!), Virus, Madness, and Memory Loss.