Reviews El-P Cancer 4 Cure

El-P

Cancer 4 Cure

A man such as El-P is an anomaly to say the least. To fully describe his music in genre labels or easily identifiable terminology is almost an exercise in futility as both a music fan and writer. The life long New Yorker and figurehead within the underground hip hop scene manages to make a legitimate argument for hip hop as full fledged artform outside of the art of rhyme or production in and of themselves.

From his start with the legendary Company Flow his rhyme schemes and almost obsessive attention to detail in both his choice of words and beats has made him something far beyond the norm. This attention was what helped inform his form label mates at Def Jux. It isn't entirely ridiculous to make the argument that even mainstream hip hop wouldn't be quite what it is without El-P's influence.

So with what would generally be considered a career killing length of a break between his last full length (5 years) here is his return. The question is what has changed? Honestly not much at all. That is not to say that this record is anything close to a remake. The things that have remained consistent throughout his career remain overwhelming themes of a dystopian future (and sometimes present) along with extensively layered production.

Right from the start your average hip hop fan may feel a bit at odds. "Request Denied" starts off sounding like a mid 2000's Big Beat style track before building into a heavily layered sound bed upon which El welcomes the listener (in a sense). The fact is there is nothing here that your average Hip Hop fan will be able to get their heads around. Other standouts on an extremely packed and well sequenced album include "Drones Over BKLYN" which builds hooks out of nothing seemingly. "Tougher Colder Killer" manages to tell a touching story of PTSD based on a true story and feels as hopeless as it sounds.

The guest spots offer something different from the norm as well. Some artists that seem to have been obviously influenced by El-P show up in the form of spots by Danny Brown, Despot and Mr. Motherfucking Exquire. Whereas recent friendships show up by way of spots by Killer Mike and Nick Diamonds (of Islands). The amazing thing is that none of these guests ever feel forced or out of place within the tracks. They all flow so smoothly that one almost has a hard time thinking of them not being there.

Overall El-P fans cannot accuse him of being disappointing. This is his record through and through still very much his own style without being merely an addendum to his recorded legacy. Newcomers will have something new to discover upon both first and accumulated listens. One must note there is nothing that feels positive about this record much like the rest of his output it is not meant for long road trips and long summer days. this is something to listen to in the late night hours while feeling the toll of the world.

9.0 / 10Jon E.
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