The last time I heard from El-P was with his Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3 project (my review of which was posted at Skyscraper Zine), but he has never been out of mind or hearing range. Or at least when it comes to El-P, his music has always been around in a sense, whether it’s a remix, a quick cameo or… again, it seems he’s always around musically but when news surfaces of a brand new album, people want to hear it. I want to hear it.
I was ready to post my review last week, but was told not to, I had to wait until the release day. I don’t understand why, I was ready to be one of a small handful to spark the buzz. I was not going to post the actual music, in fact, fans could already go to a number of places to hear a full stream of the album, so I asked myself: would my review hurt the potential of El-P’s album selling? Fuck no. I thought it was dumb, but I complied and waited. I don’t like to wait.
Cancer For Cure (Fat Possum)… well, look at the title first. Does this mean that things have changed, that the game (wahtever the game means to you) has flipped? Instead of us looking for a cure for a disease, we have to be diseased in order to come to some sense of better? Are we so deep in the muck that it’s going to take a lot of things dying off in order for us to realize what we didn’t know what we had until it’s gone? Next paragraph.
People know that El-P is always on some next level shit, and there was a time when a lot of rappers were celebrated for being “next level”, and that meant they were making music that felt good now, would sound great in five to ten years, but sounds like someone in an advanced world would create. Beyond present tense. El-P has basically decided to create music as if this was indeed the future, acknowledgment of the past, but it’s music being made for a dying world. A lot of things will be said about this album so I’ll try not to repeat what I think others might say. What I like about this is that the music sounds as twisted as music by Gangrene, Madlib, and Atmosphere, yet within the observation of that “next level”, El-P is also going back to the original ground level influences. You have that swagger, the attitude, the whole “I am articulate, I speak street slang, and I’ll be able to say something to you that you’re not going to be able to comprehend until you heard this song four times over.” This is an authentic hip-hop album that works on so many levels, from the lunacy of the sounds that for the most part sound unfamiliar (and if they are familiar, they’re simply making their presence known) to the verses, lines, and lyrics that you are visualizing as deeply as the music, both working together to create some twisted brain scenes.
Within all of the chaotic funkiness of Cancer For Cure is someone who makes an attempt to sing, or at least do some harmonizing that he is not fearful of doing, not unlike what Blueprint has done in the last few years. Someone will hear this and wonder if El-P is trying to to claim that Bieber “Baby” money for himself but in this context, it works. El-P has always strived to be himself, and in his own comfort zone, there is no shame with what he’s going, especially when it sounds really good.
When an album is made with an equal passion and devotion for lyrical and musical intensity, I’m feeling its beginnings, its middles, and squeezing its ends. Cancer For Cure may sound apocalyptic from the outside, but enter the album and you’re going to hear a unique sense of twisted beauty that has always been one of El-P’s trademarks.