El-P has emerged from the ashes of his Def Jux indie-rap label like he once again has something to prove. The New York MC/producer and Company Flow member reminded anyone unfamiliar just what a ferocious rapper he can be on Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire’s internet-star-studded “The Last Huzzah!” remix. He’s reportedly producing Atlanta hip-hop veteran Killer Mike’s upcoming R.A.P. Music, from which advance track “Big Beast” showcases his bustling, cacophonous production style.
On May 22, El-P will release his first non-instrumental solo album since 2007’s bleak I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, he announced today. Titled Cancer for Cure, the album marks his first for gritty blues label turned indie-rock mainstay Fat Possum, and it will feature Interpol’s Paul Banks and Island’s Nick Diamonds along with Danny Brown, Killer Mike, Mr. Muthafuckin’ exQuire, and others yet to be announced. A press release promises a “huge leap forward” from the production on 2010 instrumental weareallgoingtoburninhellmeggamixxx; now, of course that’s the type of thing a press release is supposed to say, but given the run El-P has been on lately, it’s easy to root for him to pull off something special here.
Our first taste from the album, “The Full Retard,” seemingly takes its title from 2008 comedy Tropic Thunder, where, if you don’t know, its meaning is actually supposed to be more respectful rather than less; the point is that actors always get Oscars for playing people with impaired cognitive function, but only as long as the portrayal is saccharine and unrealistic. In any event, the connection between the phrase and this track appears to be that El-P is, well, totally unhinged: “I’m known to go HAM,” he spits, over production that’s halfway between old-school samples and futuristic electro-din. A trippy utopian fantasy shows up toward the end, but it’s interrupted by gunfire. Who you calling a backpacker?