Vinyl Vlog 477

Vinyl Vlog 477

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Cancer 4 Cure

I remember the moment that the world of Hip Hop was opened to me. Years ago, I was interviewing Dillinger Four at the Trocadero in Philadelphia, talking to their bass player about music. He said something along the lines of mainstream rap being in a deplorable state; to the effect that standards and quality control didn’t exist anymore in his opinion. Lucky for me, I had a rap aficionado friend who immediately approved of this sentiment. I told him one of the reasons I shied away from rap music was how uninteresting I found the musical content and how tiresome I found this whole bravado thing. Not to worry, he told me, and burnt me my first rap CD: EL-P’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead.

After that, nothing was the same.

EL-P proved to me that not only was (is) mainstream rap laughable compared to the independent stuff, that independent stuff was what actually mattered but those on the inside of the scene already knew that.

The best way to talk about EL-P’s reputation is to reference the most respected underground rap of the 90s and 00s and to know they were all on his label Definite Jux. Also, EL-P has found continued success with Killer Mike and Run the Jewels making groundbreaking stuff after decades of music. This should speak volumes on his artistic merit.

More importantly, even though El-P has continued with a steady output of stellar music over the years he has not had a solo release since 2012 Cancer 4 Cure. EL-P has never been known for his happy side, but this is maybe the most positive his music has ever sounded, sifting through the darkness in order to find the light at the end of a tunnel. As he said himself, this is an album about wanting to live. These songs read like poetry and, layered over his beats which are a little more haunting and much more guitar-driven than his previous work, we’re left with an album which is unique, familiar and interesting. Cancer 4 Cure was an outstanding highlight in year already filled with great music.

But let’s talk about the vinyl release now, which is oh-so beautiful. Definitive Jux is no more and luckily, this album is out on Fat Possum. A record label that is quickly becoming our favorite, both with new acts and reissues. Unfortunately, the color vinyl of Cancer 4 Cure, but the standard black vinyl is almost equally impressive. This double LP (EL-P, get it?) comes in a gatefold sleeve fashioning EL-P’s famous logo in a shattered mirror. The look is stark, simple, yet impactful. A great looking record set.

Time will tell whether EL-P will ever make another solo record. What cannot be denied is that Cancer 4 Cure was one of the best albums of 2012.

Get it from Fat Possum.

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