September 11, 2012

El-P - Cancer 4 Cure (2012)

Firstly, I will go on record and say that I'm a proud, happy Italian-Romanian nerd. If sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk and cyberpunk were served to me as a meal high on calories and sugar I would've been dead by the age of 20. Fortunately, that's not the case, and I continue my puny, futile existence writing comedy music articles for a semi-obscure blog.

El-P, aka the artist who satisfies my most ridiculous and specific interests, is a rapper/ producer/bad ass nerd hailing from Brooklyn, New York. He became involved with the hip-hop culture from New York from an early age, presumably because after being expelled from several schools and having serious problems with authority he wanted to pursue the life of an outlaw space rapper 'cause there ain't no dayum powlice in space, yo. Consequently, his music is inspired by sci-fi, alternate-history and fantasy, in general, and more particularly by the works of several science fiction writers, especially Philip K. Dick, whose themes of alienation,  paranoia and the true nature of reality are heavily debated and referenced in his songs.

With Cancer 4 Cure, EL-P sticks to his already famous nerdie formula and comes with even more intricate song structures, esoteric lyrics and futuristic beats. Despite picturing a dystopic society where robots are in charge and humans are slowly driven to extinction , it doesn't feel like that. It feels like a blend between Back To The Future, Futurama and Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy - it doesn't take itself too seriously ( Spit with an illy alien flex, 3 titty’d martian of text/That ugly grey riding a huffy over city with friends), nor does it hesitate to discuss current social or political issues and speculate on how society will evolve if these problems won't (or will) be fixed. On a more personal level, the album is about the darkness that surrounds us and how we struggle not to give into it, no matter how tempting it is, and survival of the fittest. Given my undoubtful experience as a hip/hop emcee and producer, I find this approach to be the most appropriate and I salute his clever decisions.

The lyrics are dense and esoteric as fuck, which feel even claustrophobic after El-P's overly aggressive and verbose vocal delivery starts bashing your head like cheap vodka. EL-P is, without a single doubt, one of the most gifted mcee's out there - he spits near-impossible phrases while shifting between rhythmical variations without breaking a muscle. It's like he mastered some secret, ancient mystical power that grants him alien-like distributive attention. That, or he is a legit, multi-platinum intergalactic alien rapper. Obviously, the lyrics are full of sweet nerdie references, ranging from Arthur C. Clarke's books, George Orwell's 1984, Totall Recall, The Terminator, Star Wars, Star Trek,  to the fucking muppets. I'm dead serious. El-P doesn't fuck around. To top it all, El-P is a cunning and funny motherfucker -  he is capable of pulling off an intelligent joke even from the most obscure reference. After a while, I stopped counting all the awkward conversations I've had with the police officers that came knocking at my door, explaining that my violent outbursts of laughter were not coming from a mad scientist or a serial killer, but from a middle class law student who has listened to way too much sci-fi hip hop. For some reason, I got off only with a warning. I guess my reaction to this album is more widespread that I thought.

The beats are, as Stephen Hawking himself once put it, '' head spinning, seizure causing and futuristic as F-- the future''. I feel kinda sorry for those overworked robots that EL-P used to create the beats for the album. And I'm saying this because I can't imagine an organic possessing the means and having the skills to compose these beats. What? . I'm not crazy. I'm just saying, robots have feelings too, you know. If we won't offer them the respect they deserve, it's just a matter of time until an actual robot uprising will decimate us.  Stop staring at me!

You know, I'm tired of writing lengthy, life changing review conclusions. I will let this video of a goat enjoying shocking itself against an electric fence describe what I REALLY felt during the audition.

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