Friday, 25 May 2012

El-P - Cancer For Cure

I’d never heard of El-P before ‘The Full Retard’ showed up online and every writer on every site around lost their shit. I heard it, I loved it and I poked around for more. So it turns out El’s been running underground rap for years and now he’s back and most definitely on one. Cancer for Cure is a pissed-off record, but it’s never childish or sulky, rather it throws its arms aloft and screams its proclamations with startling clarity and purpose.

Opening with ‘Request Denied’, a hulking beast of a track that skitters between bombast and restraint, powered along by a leering beat and juddering synths, it’s probably the best representation of what’s about to come. The fact that the man himself only shows up in the closing minute-and-a-half is even better; it gives space to the beat, allowing it to flex its muscles and show off its bounty of intricacies. When El-P finally does go in, it’s hard. Not just because his verse is delivered as an unwaveringly dense layer of complex rhymes and time signatures, but also because he sounds so remorselessly righteous. His delivery is a master class in self-possession and the air of confidence he exudes is thicker than water.

Cancer for Cure is exactly what you want a rap record to sound like in 2012, with a predication for narrative-driven songs and an emphasis on exhibiting every facet of the beats. In that respect it’s miles ahead of its peers. Whilst rap as a whole is moving into a new era of self-obsession it’s positively shocking to hear one adopting a first-person perspective that isn’t their own (or an extension of their own). Its conscious rap without preachiness, you could dance or you could ponder its lyrical themes. You could do both (in fact, it wants you to do both, ‘Oh Hail No’features a Danny Brown guest spot that’s funny and word-smart, spat over a thrumming beat that shifts and clangs endlessly).

A fully-formed jolt of uninhibited rage, delivered as a sermon, a story and a lecture. Denser than an album three times its size and more opinionated than a hundred Lupe Fiasco’s, it’s easily the most enthralling record that’s come about in a very long time.


Ned Powley

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