El-P – Cancer4Cure album review

Brooklyn rapper and producer, El-P, just released a radically contemporary LP on Fat Possum Records. His flow is angular and viciously intelligent.  The instrumentals are diverse and cutting-edge.  The pervasive drone is not unlike the constant noise levels in Brooklyn. A lot of songs, for example “Drones Over BKLYN” sound influenced by Death Grips’ aesthetic of metal and heavy machinery (not to mention the political relevance of drones).

Stand-out single “The Full Retard” is a machine gun party. Quoting deceased friend Camu Tao, El-P demands, “So you should pump this shit, like they do in the future.”  After a while there’s a hilariously sarcastic voice that comes in: “When harmony and love reign, no longer do we live in a society bent on its own destruction… Children of every race, creed, and religion frolic in fields of golden dandelions.” He’s clearly making fun of rappers who indulge in flaky bullshit. Then it’s cut off by a barrage of rapid gun-fire, El-P smirks and repeats “little bitch” for a while.


In terms of collaboration, El-P doesn’t mess around. “Oh Hail No” (described to Skinny Mag as, “Some rebel shit from the garbage”) has verses from both Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire and Danny Brown. “Tougher Colder Killer” (inspired by a poem about a soldier’s guilt after battle) features Killer Mike and Despot. “True Story” has chopped vocals from Heems (Das Rascist). However, “Works Every Time” featuring Paul Banks of Interpol is lukewarm, but whatever.

The subject matter is original and affecting. Opening track, “Request Denied” is about the exuberance and irreverence of youth. Escapist yet destructive pass-times are the basis of “Works Every Time”. “The Jig Is Up” and “Sign Here” are the only songs about women… but “The Jig Is Up” is based on Groucho Marx’s famously self-depreciating line, “I wouldn’t want to be part of any club that would have me” and the interrogative “Sign Here” is about sex and domination. “For My Upstairs Neighbor” has a bored and shocking refrain, “If you kill him I won’t tell…” Madness, paranoia, death, control, technology – definitely more relevant than smoking weed and thinking up clever nicknames for yourself.

You really should pump Cancer4Cure like they do in the future. El-P is on point.

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