When I asked my friend and prominent Vancouver rapper, Pigsty what he thought about El-P, he summed up him up in one word, “unfuckwithable”.
El-P has come back swinging with his first new record in five years, Cancer4Cure, which has no doubt allowed him to keep his reputation of untouchability.
Cancer4Cure is an articulate cacophony… heavy without being dirty, complexity without overkill.The album is a clear result of two decades in the game. Dude founded the notorious hip hop label Definitive Jux, was a founding member of The Weathermen and has made an indelible mark on modern hip hop since the 90s. Impeccably tight rhymes and a combination of live and synthesized instruments create a density on his new album that when you hear it you just have to figure it out. It’s a new sound, and it’s one to be solved.
I have such an a conflict when I listen to El-P; one part of my brain wants to pick apart each layer. I want to identify his flow scheme, how many sounds are playing at once, what they’re each contributing, and what is it that makes them sound so damn good together. It’s such a stimulating album to listen to and dissect. On the other hand, I’m also perfectly content with just letting it play out as I zone out. The beats and the rhymes speak for themselves whether you’re listening for minute details or you’re just taking it for face value and that’s what makes the album so genius.
“The Full Retard” is a good example of the album’s versatility. Featuring a sample from fellow Weathermen member, Camu Tao, “You should pump this shit like they do in the future” infectiously rips through the track to make it undeniably catchy. You can throw your iPod on to that track for your rap fiending friends or even to a slightly less hip hop fluent group and get the same reaction… a lot of nodding, and the occasional “…OHHH”, which in my experience means unanimous approval.
It’s interesting that with the passing of one exceptional, game-changing Brooklyn boy, comes the resurgence of another. El-P, like MCA is yet another musician proving that “white rapper” is not an oxymoron.