Brooklyn’s own cat-loving MC is recognisable for his eloquent, aggressive approach to high-speed wordplay; he’s technically gifted and madly imaginative. Born Jaime Meline, he first made a name as El Producto as a member of New York hip-hop group Company Flow. With Big Jus and Mr. Len, El-P set out his claim to become one of the most influential rappers and producers in the game. Later forming East Coast collective The Weathermen in 1999, El-P co-founded the independent label Definitive Jux the same year. Before he took a hiatus from his role as artistic director in 2010, the label had released mammoth albums like Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein and Aesop Rock’s Labor Days.
In the studio, El-P’s contributed production wisdom and rhymes in equal measure. Helping out on records by Aesop Rock, Atmosphere, Das Racist and many, many more, he’s also provided remixes of artists as diverse as Beck, Blackalicious and Nine Inch Nails. El-P’s catalogue, as diverse as it is, is best summed up by review from The Skinny in 2007: “razor-sharp, abrasive intelligence -he is one of the most literate and politically conscious MCs working.” The man himself, in interview re: his 2010 mixtape, reflected, “I’m the first motherfucker to embrace the new era.”
First flying solo in 2002, Meline’s own work has a futuristic, fantastical bent. 2004 saw him work with pianist Matthew Shipp, laying rhymes on top of a full jazz band. Since 2013, El-P’s main project has been Run the Jewels. The hip-hop duo co-signed by Killer Mike has enjoyed mammoth critical acclaim (as well as mid-record name-checks from the likes of Kendrick Lamar) and amassed a mega fan-base supporting their free-release LPs.
Fantastic Damage (2002)
I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (2007) The Skinny review
We are all going to burn in hell megamixxx3 (2010, mixtape) The Skinny review
Cancer 4 Cure (2012) El-P explains the record to The Skinny, here.
Funcrusher Plus (1997)
Little Johnny from the Hospitul: Breaks and Instrumentals Vol. 1 (1999)
Run The Jewels
Run the Jewels (2013) The Skinny’s “Albums of 2013” interview
Run the Jewels 2 (2014)
Meow the Jewels (2015)
Tours and Trivia
You're most likely to catch El-P touring as Run the Jewels, although he is known for bestowing the odd DJ slot upon extra grateful crowds.
Meow the Jewels is exactly what it says on the tin; a fan-petitioned full-album remix of their second record, using only cat noises.