El-P | Cancer For Cure

Fat Possum (2012)
By DAN WEISS  |  May 15, 2012
2.5 2.5 Stars

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"It's like a fresh start in a new world," El Producto repeats on "Works Every Time," a track on this, his least ambitious record. The guy has never made concept albums, no. But the knotty logorrhea and sonic heft of Fantastic Damage, I'll Sleep When You're Dead, and Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein made them sound like major comic-book crossovers. Cancer for Cure is definitely not El-P's Age of Apocalypse; in fact it's the only El-P production that sounds like it's been made on planet Earth, following hip-hop rules that someone else already defined. But the real disappointment is the absence of El's talented new buddies. After forming strong circles at Rawkus and then Def Jux, El-P has his best crew in years in Danny Brown, Das Racist, Despot, Killer Mike, and Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire. They rarely grace Cancer, one exception being the wicked "Oh Hail No," the only track on the record that truly brings the C4, with lines like, "Ever notice when you talk I just cut myself" and "I like the part where you fry/I like nothing else." Not that your basic dynamite like "The Full Retard" or the guitar solo-abetted "Drones Over Bklyn" aren't good enough on their own; it's just that, well, that's all they are.

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