Album: Cancer For Cure
Release Date: 22/5/2012
"Cancer For Cure" proves that EL-P is still capable of works of genius, but may be a little blinded by his own myth
Ever since his earliest releases with '90s experimental hip- hop pioneers Company Flow, EL-P's name has been synonymous with estranged, left field production and vicious lyrical kicks at society. He's been a well affirmed underground hero due to many of his releases. There's two things however that we music fans are all too aware of, but EL-P might not be. Firstly, almost all good things come to an end. Secondly, it is possible when presented with such adoration and minor scale hero worship for a myth to unfurl around you, and the dark edges of self- indulgence begin to surge in on the unexpecting unconcious.
It's probably true to suggest that such metaphorical and philosiphical thinking has been injected into EL-P's work over the years, and as a result on "Cancer For Cure" a three sided coin rears it's mixed- bag head. Those three sides are brilliance, lack- lustre and self- indulgence, and all of them are present here.
It starts off with a fantastic left hook, the blood pumping and pulsating "Request Denied", which after hurtling along with "Fat of the Land"- era Prodigy esque speed and electronics turns into an exhilarating rap- rock build up and climax. "The Full Retard" comes next and is magnificently heavy in its stoned beat and squelching, parping synths. "True Story" sounds visceral and re- vitalising too, opening up with EL-P snarling "You're the cancer/ You're the fucking problem" into a megaphone before the track descends into a juddering, futuristic low- end shuffle.
Yet for all it's macho- artyness, "Cancer For Cure" often falls well short. The try- hard aggressiveness of "Tougher Colder Killer" fails to make much of an impact, which is surprising considering it features a man who put out one if this year's best hardcore hip- hop albums, Killer Mike. "Oh Hail No" fails to be as interesting as it wants to be, and the final two minutes of "Drones Over Brklyn" are a psycadelic synthscape that continues for much longer than is necessary.
There are hints that EL-P may have become a little blinded by his own enigma too. There are moments that could be brilliant, but are ruined by El trying too hard to add grit, most notably on "The Jig Is Up." The song has a grinding, fuzzy and dark synth base, but the lyrics and flow are so stagnant and unimaginative that it sounds TOO improvisational and not too much like a well- figured mind game.
EL- P would love to have us believe that he doesn't give a fuck what we think, and to be fair, that's probably true. When it's not trying too hard, "Cancer For Cure" seems efortlessly brutal and life affirming. These are the well conjured moments in which EL-P sounds most comfortable. With worship though comes expectation, and as sure as I am that EL-P is not out of ideas (as if that could ever happen), there are certainly moments on "Cancer For Cure" where he needs to take a step back and consider the rights and wrongs of his progression.
Key Tracks: "Request Denied" "The Full Retard" "True Story"