Originally published in the Hindu Sunday Magazine on August 18, 2012.
El-P – Cancer For Cure
Fat Possum Records
Jaime Meline spent most of hip hop career behind the scenes, launching artists from his record label Definitive Jux. Simultaneously, he put out music under the name of El-Producto (which was later shortened to El-P). But now with the record label put “on hiatus”, Meline is ready to take over the industry as a man with caustic rhymes and dangerous beats.
On his latest offering ‘Cancer for Cure’ – also known as C4C – El-P brings what was probably once underground to the front, with full force. ‘The Full Retard’ opens with the directive “so you should pump this sh*t like they do in the future”. Apart from being everything you want in a hip hop single, it just cements El-P’s rhyme flow.
Other highlights on the album include ‘Oh Hail No’, ‘Tougher Colder Killer’ and the previously-released ‘Drones Over BKLYN’, which is five minutes you cannot keep your ears away from. El-P’s movements draw from guitar solos to magnificent sub-bass.
The subject matter ranges from the typical substance abuse trips (‘Works Every Time’) to – get this – population control (‘True Story’). On the latter, swift futuristic beats are followed by the refrain of “in the world” as El-P spits: “Live wrong and prosper’s the mantra they try to drill in the head. 4 out of 5 babies in graves agree the scene is of dread.”
As far as dedications go, El-P makes it clear on the last track ‘$ Vic/FTL (Me and You)’, with a shout out to Camu Tao – an artist under Def Jux who died in 2009. Even though 11 tracks have past, El-P has this gem tucked away till the very end: “And this goes out to the… To the maniacs/And aristocrat grifters /To the zealots/To the monarchs. What up brainiacs?/Compulsively acidic rainiacs/Repulsively predictable painiacs.”
El-P isn’t really the ‘white man’s rapper’ by any means. That kind of generalisation is misplaced in today’s music. ‘Cancer For Cure’ packs it all in, journeying through beats and topics that certainly aren’t commonplace to hip-hop. This album will “make you spin like you sniffing that god particle”, as El-P says on ‘Oh Hail No’.