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It's a dark place that El-P inhabits, one in which where prospects are dim, big brother is watching, and a revolution is needed. In short, this world. In fact, those conditions have only increased in the five years since Jaime Meline release his last full-length, the paranoia-fueled I'll Sleep When You're Dead. In that time, Definitive Jux, the seminal label Meline co-founded went on an indefinite hiatus, bad news for fans of provocative underground rap but good news for those wanting to hear more from El-P the artist.
And so the man returns with more fuck-the-man, sleeping-with-one-eye-open jams on Cancer 4 Cure. Breadlines, prison and bleats of synth horns populate the exhilarating "The Full Retard", an anti-snitch vow is offered on "For My Upstairs Neighbor", Mr. Motherfucking Exquire and Danny Brown guest on "Oh Hail No", and the golden age of P.E. and the Bomb Squad is evoked on the driving "True Story" and "Drones Over Bklyn" (a 2011 Adult Swim release) with an a propos bass-n-buzz. As the NYPD makes no bones about the use of surveillance tools on the rise, El-P's cautionary tales couldn't be more timely. It's an electric, blistering album, and here's what the critics are saying:
Dusted: The album lets out all the voices running through that man’s head while he builds a lean-to from bits and pieces of subverted or discarded culture, looking you over and wondering whether to let you inside. It hits closer to home than you think it should because, of course, the lean-to is this album, and you are both the second-person character happening by in the story and yourself as a listener with opinions and expectations about what a hip-hop album sounds like.
Chicago Tribune: As a lyricist, El-P swings hard between abstract images and more concrete snapshots, indelible scenes from a movie that can haunt for years.
Pitchfork: Whereas Fantastic Damage served as a Def Jux coming out party and I'll Sleep When You're Dead synthesized the sweaty jitters of the mid-Dubya daze, Cancer 4 Cure consciously creates its own iron galaxy.
In hopes that his output will increase in the months and days to come, now is the time to discover the latest from a man who's been too long gone, El-P, and Cancer 4 Cure.