El-P, “Clarity” [Feature From the June 2012 Issue]

El-P started working on Cancer 4 Cure soon after Camu Tao’s death in 2008. But the record progressed slowly, and he took a break to produce Killer Mike’s new album, R.A.P. Music. The pair really hit it off. “He’s a mean little fuck,” Killer Mike says. “He really is Brooklyn, New York. He is Brooklyn to the bone. A lot of artists are sensitive to not hurting each other’s feelings—a lot of White artists, in particular, are just too fucking nice. With El, he’s just a tough, nose-to- the-grindstone type dude.”

Working with Mike gave El-P a creative boost towards finishing his own album. He wasn’t feeling as emotive as he was in the making of his last two, he says, and instead went for a little more “punch-you-in-your-face energy.” But Cancer 4 Cure is a solid continuation of his previous work, which means it isn’t really for everybody. It can take multiple listens to grasp onto themes, and the lyrics are, to put it mildly, verbose. But El-P is a gifted MC, equally adept at kicking a double-time flow or slowing things down to a spoken word- like delivery. He can steer effortlessly from satire to self-assessment to story- telling, all within a verse. The production is just as sophisticated, with layer upon layer of moving pieces—heavy synths, drums and bass.

El-P admits that his music is an acquired taste. (“No doubt,” he says.) But now, nearly two decades into his career, he feels more respected than ever. “People are giving me my due a little bit, and hopefully I’ve earned that,” he says. “Over the years, I’ve grown to have a relatively Zen perspective on the whole shit. I know what I’m doing. I’m not going to change or flip my shit. It’s always been me; it’s always been genuine. I think sometimes the attitudes and what people pay attention to changes.”

Cancer 4 Cure recently leaked onto the Internet. Surprisingly, El-P shrugs it off. There are too many good things going on at the moment. He’s still getting props for his show-stopping verse on Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire’s “The Last Huzzah (Remix).” And after capping off a string of reunion shows at Coachella, Company Flow announced that they intend on recording new material.

“Everyone is paying attention to everything now and giving it its proper due,” he says. “I think that’s the way music fans feel right now. There is no real dividing line. A lot of rappers over the last six years have really started taking interest in other genres of music. Before there was this clear line; now I don’t see it anymore. I never believed the walls existed in the first place. I was waiting for everyone else to see that. I think it would be wrong for me to be anything less than optimistic. Don’t you think things are getting better?”

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  • Ricky S

    EL-P been doing it his way since the beginning & never fell off even for a minute, dude has one of the most original styles & IMO is one of the greatest producers of the last 15 years, I’m glad to see all these younger heads & other folks who would have previously written him off coming around on the strength of his work with Killer Mike on “R.A.P Music” & I hope his rise continues, few earned it the hard way like he did

  • http://youtube.com/nostrilchoir dave smith

    This dude is killin shit alongside Killer Mike and Exquire (mr. mothafuckin). All trill fellas.

  • J.D. Senior Writer of the defunct Select Music Tabloid

    I know there are a lot of underrated mcs like AZ, Mysonne, Thirstin Howl III, Pharoahe Monch, but I would honestly go with El-P as the top in that category. From Company Flow days till now, he’s been phenomenal on every side of hip hop, it’s rare to see someone with multiple talents, but to excel at all is amazing. I know Eminem has been crowned as the King of Hip Hop, and please, I am not turning this into an Eminem VS El-P diss, both are very talented. But if you really look back at their catalogs, Eminem has done some goofy tracks singing Ba Bum Bum Bum Ass Like That, chasing teachers with staplers, he did have aspirations to join ICP and just skated being a heavily mocked artist. He was steered in the right direction and marketed to the right demo, and helped with beats from the master. If you just take a meaningful track like Stepfather Factory and really listen to the lyrics, there really is no contest on who the better rapper is, you might prefer Eminem’s voice, but El-P was out of Eminems league even in 97 with End To End Burners, and has only gotten more experienced, the fact that he’s slept on so heavily is a shame. But whether it’s music or comedy, the masses will always prefer a Dane Cook over a Louis CK or Patrice O’Neal so those in the know are almost that much more treated.

  • danny anderson

    TECH N9NE is the shit DTRANGE MUSIC BITCH tech braugt me here

  • Tru Talk

    A disgrace to the human race and o yea… We can all tell u write ur songs in 5 minutes lol