This could represent the greatest thinking man’s beat tape of all time.
Adam Kennedy 2010
Not for nothing is Brooklyn leftfield hip hop impresario Jaime Meline otherwise known as, in extended alter ego terms, El-Producto. Schooled in groundbreaking crew Company Flow before honing his craft as a solo artist and brain behind scene-defining label Definitive Jux, his literate wiseass rhymes and shrewd business sense are far from the only weapons in his arsenal.
Noted beatsmith flair, effortlessly transcending rap microcosms, is where focus firmly lies on Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3, an instrumental set billed as a stopgap between 2007’s imperious I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead and its studio successor. Whereas the two preceding Weare… volumes mirrored the thrown together ethos of the series title, though, here El-P compresses mixtape methodology into a cohesive whole with the urgency of an attention deficit disorder-riddled jukebox.
The lion’s share of these wordless wonders clock in around the two-and-a-half minute mark, relative vignettes concentrating on moving the pace along before an idea bogs down. Evolving into the next movement rather than simply skipping to the next track, it’s a smart approach; even if, ultimately, the abundance of instant fix bite-sized snacks leaves you salivating for mealtime proper.
El-P’s sharp-tongued sense of humour and sharper eye for domestic nitty-gritty remain in track titles Whores: The Movie and He Hit Her So She Left. The former busts from the blocks, squelching along with ominous B movie soundtrack intent, the noise of a compressed orchestra attempting to digitise G-funk with space-age swagger. The latter packs fittingly thwacking punch, dodging categorisation en route.
Time Won’t Tell harks back to melodic poignancies that intersected I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead’s emotion-prodding peaks with all the edgy, paranoid beauty of riding a late-night subway. And it’s an atmosphere unexpectedly partially reprised in Young Jeezy refix I Got This (El-P Remix) Redux, expertly-inserted mournful guitar licks eventually bleeding into Jump Fence, Run, Live’s pogo stick-springy club bounce.
For any bootlegging rappers with cerebral ambitions, this could represent the greatest thinking man’s beat tape of all time. To mere listeners, it’s an enveloping temporary distraction, more than fulfilling its purpose of whetting anticipation for El-P’s mic-wielding return.