Editors' pick

El-P and Killer Mike


Editorial Review

Album review: "Cancer for Cure"
By Geoffrey Himes
Friday, July 13, 2012

On “Works Every Time,” a track from his new album, “Cancer for Cure,” El-P declares that he wants “a fresh start on a new world.” If his rocket-propulsion inventiveness is as cutting-edge as his track-making creativity, he should have no problem reaching another planet. With its bleeps, static and whooshes, the album sounds as if it were recorded on a spaceship dodging asteroids at warp speed, its radio connection going on and off so the transmissions arrive as tantalizing fragments.

It’s easy to understand why El-P (a.k.a. El Producto, a.k.a. Jaime Meline) would want to leave this planet behind, for his reminiscences about his time here are a grim record of zooming bullets, police grillings, dead friends and intoxicating fumes. On “Drones Over Brooklyn,” he offers a dystopian vision of a “Blade Runner”-like near-future where government drones hover above his home, ready to dispatch troops at the first sign of rebellion. The backing tracks -- a mix of trashy drums, warning horns and human screams -- prove as paranoid as the lyrics.

Hip-hop has always had a high fantasy quotient, but El-P has been clever enough to marry such adolescent imaginings to like-minded science fiction. Despite a handful of guest raps by Killer Mike, Danny Brown and eXquire, the tongue-twisting El-P dominates the soundscape, serving up a vision of his soon-to-be-departed planet that is as vivid as it is bleak.