El-P – Cancer4Cure
It's been five years since El-P's I'll Sleep When You're Dead. There's not much point prefixing anything the rapper/producer behind the Definitive Jux label does with 'seminal' – it's all been seminal. Cancer4Cure is no exception, pushing experimental hip-hop remorselessly forward. Full-frontal assault breakbeats underpin glimmering synths and treated guitars on opener Request Denied as William Burroughs instructs us to “storm the studio".
First single The Full Retard, with its thrilling refrain (“You should pump this shit, like they do in the future”) cuts to the heart of El-P's appeal, replete with high-concept science fiction rhymes and bizarre, mind-spinning samples. Crunk, dubstep, art-rock and industrial have all been processed and incorporated, but without the cynical intention of capturing the audiences of those styles. Rather, El-P absorbs them like the amoebic life-form from Akira.
His penchant for analogue synths is evident – each bass and melodic pattern is fat, swollen and real, unprocessed. Lyrically, his flow is reference-heavy, absurdist, its intensity never lessened by the abstract imagery. When we look back on the hip-hop of early C21, Cancer4Cure will stand tall above the floodwaters of nostalgia. El-P is one of the few great artists still inhabiting the form.