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El-P Cancer4Cure Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

A phenomenal third solo album from the forever-pushing-things-forward New Yorker.

Mike Diver 2012

When critics (hi!) take shots at hollow interpretations of substantial art, it's because we really, really want you to step into an 'elsewhere', where the likes of El-P operate. It's not that tough a step, honest. Sure, that he can’t compete with lesser rappers, and weaker producers, on a commercial level might be depressing. Might be, if you weren’t about to dive into his world.

Cancer4Cure won’t replicate the chart success of Drake or Mac Miller; but it’s far ahead enough of that competition, intellectually and inspirationally, to exist on another plane of appreciation altogether. Its maker, born Jaime Meline in Brooklyn almost 40 years ago and an irrepressible presence in hip hop’s progress for close to 20, is on phenomenal form here, offering an uncompromising, unflinching collection that blows away almost any other rap release of 2012 so far. Only Death Grips’ The Money Store can match its in-the-red thrills.

Request Denied fires into life like Liam Howlett shorn of Prodigy expectations, bruising another-dimension beats leaving the listener punch-drunk. When El-P drops into the mix it’s like no other MC matters: his wordplay is both instinctive and methodical, syllables measured masterfully as still-jittery, industrially-clanking production steps into overdrive. Political overtones of previous solo LPs Fantastic Damage (2002) and I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (2007) are again illuminated, here with an unfaltering standpoint of "We are not dying / Not for you".

The Full Retard’s flexing low end is the kind of gratifying rumble that’d merrily wreck any bass bin. Rising from its ashes before they’ve cooled is the sci-fi Works Every Time, which speaks of escaping to a "new world"; but in keeping with many an El-P cut past, our protagonist isn’t getting away clean. Again, the production is laser-sharpened, beamed from an alternate reality where lazy sampling died with Endtroducing…’s redrawing of those blueprints. And there are another nine tracks like this: each a microcosm of this artist’s head-spinning worldview; each a slice of tomorrow’s-world rap rallying against today’s mainstream mediocrity, smashing free-flowing science into ambitious arrangements to bleed gold.

Devilish hooks haunt every blink-and-it’s-missed detail; guests (Killer Mike, Interpol’s Paul Banks, more) come and go but never steal El-P’s deserved spotlight. Everything is so perfectly tuned it’s a wonder one’s stereo doesn’t arise as a sentient being and begin setting the world’s wrongs to right. There’s simply too much to say about this album for this URL to accommodate. We’re out of space. Tune into this, find another place, a welcoming 'elsewhere'. May it be the fire in which the falling-short burn.

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