Cancer 4 Cure
If there is one known constant in the world of music, it is the high quality of music put out by the Mississippi record label Fat Possum. They helped jump start a blues revival in the early 90’s and have been pumping out our some of music’s best modern artists ever since. One of Fat Possum’s newest releases is the third full LP released by Brooklyn based hip hop artist El-P. The album is Cancer 4 Cure, and after hearing it yesterday, and I am seriously questioning why I’ve never listened to his solo albums before … apparently because I’m an idiot, that’s why.
If you haven’t directly heard El-P before, you’ve probably at least heard/seen his name on production/guest credits before. He has had his hand in so many projects and has been around for so long, and still seems to just kill it in everything he touches. After the success of Killer Mike’s newest album in which he produced, as well as the tremendous praise he is receiving for Cancer 4 Cure, I think I will be much harder to miss him around the music scene.
The album begins with a massive bang. Frantic smacking of the snare, some crazy high hats, futuristic 2001: Space Odyssey-esque sounds, incredibly distorted/driving bass, then BAM … the dude spits lyrics like a crazed fiend. The first thing I thought of as soon as I heard the opening track was, “this guy likes jazz”. Come to find out, his father was a jazz musician, and he released an album with jazz pianist Matthew Shipp back in 2004 that I will be most certainly be “purchasing” very soon. Any fan of jazz that also likes hip hop will instantly be in love with this album. It plays like a very loud, industrial/punk version of an experimental jazz album with hip hop lyrics on top.
^Jazz Hop … modern jazz fused with hip hop.
It’s hard to find this album slowing down from there. The minute details in the production make it hard to find boring moments in which you can pick out imperfections or lulls in the album. For instance, the small amount of percussive instruments they play faintly in the background of “Works Every Time” makes that song very intriguing to listen too, even though it’s lyrically a very lack-luster track.
One of my favorite things about the albums are the slight juxtapositions that are swarming within it. The light airy chimes and piano melody in “Drones Over Bklyn” as the bass and percussion are smashing your eardrums is something that hardly any other producers would put together, but works so well. My favorite example of this is in the last track, “$ Vic/FTL (Me and You)”, in which the bright piano tends to chime in when the music is at its darkest, and then even flutters out before the 3rd part of the track starts up.
Easy technical comparisons to draw on would be Saul Williams before he met Trent Reznor and trashed his career, and ironically Nine Inch Nails. It’s much more dense than either of them though, and in many ways, much more well constructed. But it has the hard industrial sound, socially-driven lyrics, sick rhymes, and sick production.
Granted I just heard the album for the first time yesterday, but it is already an early favorite for one of the year’s best. I certainly won’t be getting tired of it anytime soon.
Can’t Miss: “Request Denied”, “The Full Retard” “The Jig is Up” “S VIC/FTL”
Can’t Hit: “Works Every Time”