Brooklynite El-P can give you 999 reasons to be paranoid about the existential nature of our reality, and believe me, they are all good reasons. For as long as 17 years, El-P – originally known as El Producto and born Jaime Meline – has defined the underground hiphop scene with his abstract style of ‘fight music’ whom aims at no other but the whole entire world full of filthy politics and corporate greed.
Since his days with Company Flow, El-P has always been known as a one-of-a-kind MC with an aggressive delivery of cluttering surrealistic word play on the fear and loathing against the universal ‘machine’ known as human nature. And for the soul of his rhymes, El-P has a taste for explosive ear-piercing beats that blends a futuristic buzz into his pulsing distorted sound.
After a couple successful full-length solo studio album and later a 5 year absence, El-P declares that the war for and against humanity is not over with a new album release “Cancer 4 Cure”. It is still familiarly relatable with the common known El-P style, but beyond the fundamental cognizance, the free-form texture and slaying tone of his rhymes has innovatively evolved with a deeper abstraction. But most commonly, within “Cancer 4 Cure” death lurks in every blow of El-P’s apocalyptic verses that makes this album have a uniquely more distinctive glare than past releases.
With 12 tracks of furious anthems, the albums starts with an escalating prelude-like track ‘Request Denied’ that metaphorically serves like an adrenaline pump for what’s to come, which soon, is followed by the discordant synthetic beats of “The Full Retard”. Taking a loop from deceased colleague Camu Tao’s ‘When You’re Going Down’, El throws punches as classic P would do, like “I’ll rugby-kick the shit out of groin, boy.” Paul Banks of Interpol features on the next track, “Works Every Time”, that tells the internal conflict of a ticking time-bomb drug dealer, and then, the album continues as El-P rants his paranoia once more in his first single “Drones Over BKLYN”.
What follows next actually became an odd instant favorite, and surprisingly, stands out the most if compared to the other tracks. Why surprisingly? Well, the impressive track titled “Oh Hail No” features guests Mr. Muthafuckin ExQuire and Danny Brown. At first, El-P begins with an interesting deep verse “Ever notice when you talk, I just cut myself?/On same ultimate fuck you, go fuck yourself” which sounds just fine and compatible, but once Exquire beautifully drive his blistering verse through the beat after El-P, it personally made me wish this track should been exclusively full-on filled by Exquire by himself, which unfortunately, overshadows the album host El-P and fellow MC Danny Brown’s style.
Right on second half, the album turns darker with the track ‘Tougher Colder Killer’ featuring Killer Mike & Despot. El-P falls into character as a post-traumatic stressed soldier who made “his enemy dig his own grave at the point of a gun” and begins with a haunting verse “To the mother of my enemy, I just killed your son/He died with his face to the sky and it cannot be undone.” Then ‘True Story’ follows up with sequences of proses painting scenarios of torture and obliteration over a surreal jumpy synths and looping voice “in the world.”
An essential track and also the last song of the album, a 8 minutes and 23 seconds long 8-bit echoed track ‘$4 Vic’ is probably what concludes the entire message of the album. El-P portrays the embrace of his true calling with a heavy verse “and I can no longer contain what’s under my disguise/I’ve always had the cancer for the cure, that’s what the fuck am I”.
Sinister and somewhat creepy, “Cancer 4 Cure” is El-P facing both the internal and external conflicts surrounding his paranoia atmosphere.
1. Request Denied
2. The Full Retard
3. Works Every Time (featuring Paul Banks)
4. Drones Over BKLYN
5. Oh Hail No (featuring Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire & Danny Brown)
6. Tougher Colder Killer (featuring Killer Mike & Despot) 3:39
7. True Story
8. The Jig Is Up
9. Sign Here
10. For My Upstairs Neighbor (Mums the Word)
11. Stay Down” (featuring Nick Diamonds)
12. $4 Vic/FTL (Me and You)