I'll probably get crucified for saying this, but I like the deep underground more now than when I was pretending to dig Fantastic Damage. Blasphemous as that may sound, the truth is that El-P's greatest mid-career triumph was convincing heads that the subterranean emperor was clothed.
Much of the new generation is less caught up with unintentional intentional postmodern subplots and more invested in wrapping words around sounds that can actually be considered beats. New Bedford tongue twister Ordeal and his producer, Ill Vibe, may be products of the glorious Def Jux and Embedded heyday, but you don't need to sniff Ritalin and grab a dictionary to digest this ode to Jacko's prescription-drug habit. Clear and honest, Ordeal rips like an "Incinerator"-era Virtuoso.
"I've Been Alone" pops with multiple climaxes, "On the Block" cracks like Eminem's "Scary Movie," and "Insensible" (with Cubbiebear) is friendly enough for college radio and maybe even late-night commercial burn. I apologize for all the supernerdy indie-hop references, but if you don't get them, you won't get this. Then again, it's a free download, so you have nothing to lose but your fringe-rap virginity.