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The Maladjusted MC Funcrusher
May 8, 2012 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Since 1993, rapper and producer El-P of famed 90s hip hop trio Company Flow (also including Bigg Jus and Mr. Len) has been pushing the boundaries of rap music. Now, after linking up with unlikely collaborator Killer Mike, the two are preparing to release R.A.P. Music.

Following the demise of Company Flow, after only two albums, El-P's relative silence seemed to signal the end of the Rawkus Records era of 1990s hip hop. After Rawkus, El founded the hugely influential Def Jux, label-home to many lauded artists including Cage, Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox, and more. After a lawsuit by Russell Simmons over the Def Jux name, the label renamed itself (Definitive Juxtaposition) and carried on, only to eventually be canned as an avenue for new relases by El-P.

While at the time, it seemed as though this might be the end of new El-P handled material, the underground stalwart seemed likely to reach a new base through the unlikely channel of a Bun B cosign. Before long, El-P had done a remix for Young Jeezy.

More recently, El connected with Atlanta native and Dungeon Family member Killer Mike. After announcing that they were working together, the two began to slowly leak songs.

Amidst this quiet resurgence as a producer, El-P wrote and recorded a new solo album as well. This project, Cancer For Cure, is being released on Fat Possum records.

This week, Atlanta's Williams Street Records (of Adult Swim fame) released the Killer Mike helmed, El-P produced album R.A.P. Music to Spin magazine for streaming. Featuring Mike's politically charged, Southern-styled rapping over El-P's 2012 version of Bomb Squad production, the album is an early contender for rap album of the year.
posted by broadway bill (47 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
In my day, we didn't have things like "remixes". You had the one mix they gave you and you were grateful for it. Now get off my lawn.

Seriously though, El is great - as is the post.
posted by Trurl at 3:39 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't really comment on his music since its definitely not my sort of thing.... But man - I've photographed a lot of musicians, celebrities and just everyday people. Rarely have I had such a negative experience as I did with El-P. A totally unpleasant individual. outtake photo
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:51 PM on May 8, 2012


Just listening, man, track #6, Reagan is in a different sort of air from the previous tracks altogether.
posted by Edogy at 3:55 PM on May 8, 2012


Yeah, I meant to mention that Reagan is really good.

Reagan is really good.
posted by broadway bill at 3:58 PM on May 8, 2012


But man - I've photographed a lot of musicians, celebrities and just everyday people. Rarely have I had such a negative experience as I did with El-P. A totally unpleasant individual.

That's what I've heard from tons and tons of people. Truly amazing he could actually helm a record company for so long with such an abrasive personality. Still, he's a peerless hip hop producer, and for a while, Def Jux was THE label.
posted by Edgewise at 4:01 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow. Definitely lost track of El Producto in the last several years, very excited to hear this stuff. Thanks.

Def Jux was indeed THE label, as far as I was concerned.
posted by penduluum at 4:07 PM on May 8, 2012


But man - I've photographed a lot of musicians, celebrities and just everyday people. Rarely have I had such a negative experience as I did with El-P. A totally unpleasant individual.

Of course he is, I love his music. It’s the people who’s music you hate that are great people to be around.

That still bums me out though, I’m a big fan, and I was interested in Killer Mike from an earlier thread.
posted by bongo_x at 4:08 PM on May 8, 2012


I pre-ordered the mega-deluxe of both the day it was available to do so. A single-producer rap album is a rarity, and I'd like to see it become the norm.
posted by Doug Stewart at 4:21 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Killer Mike don't give a damn if it's me you ain't liken'/
The last great debate I had was with Michael Eric Dyson



Killer Mike is kinda of a beast, El Producto is a dick but he's got talent, this could be good.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:22 PM on May 8, 2012


It kind of doesn't surprise me El-P is a jerk. With a lot of battle rhymers you get the impression they're showcasing themselves more than taking someone else down a peg, but El-P definitely sounds straight up mean-spirited when he takes someone down; much more personal. Guy makes great records though.
posted by Hoopo at 4:34 PM on May 8, 2012


Yeah, El is pretty abrasive in all things. His Sole dis, Linda Tripp, is a seriously brutal song. I almost framed this post as a where-they've-been-since-the-beef thing with El and Sole, but I figure only a handful of mefites would care.

Think I might just do a Sole post later this week though.
posted by broadway bill at 4:40 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd forgotten the name, but I hadn't forgotten the intensity of "Linda Tripp". It was too vicious to be entertaining, really.
posted by Trurl at 4:52 PM on May 8, 2012


This hand is getting crowded. Previously on MeFi.

I like Killer Mike and I saw that this popped up today, but I just didn't get around to checking it out. I hope there is something worth keeping on there.

In my day, we didn't have things like "remixes". You had the one mix they gave you and you were grateful for it.

You mean they released remixes as a maxi-cassette and you bought it for $5.99 without being able to hear it, so you just had to read "Running Wild - Lollipops and Cracker Jacks Mix" and hope after you left the store and popped it into your car that it was some good.
posted by cashman at 5:09 PM on May 8, 2012


Can you expand on that a bit, blaneyphoto? It's a bit odd (to me) to say something like that and not offer anything in support of it in terms of examples, etc. It's not that I don't believe you, but that I like the guy and reading that without anything behind it leaves me really unsure what to take from it.
posted by neuromodulator at 5:18 PM on May 8, 2012


I loved and love I'll Sleep When You're Dead very much. Having said so, I am not feeling that excited about the new album, though I expect I will buy it soon. Lyrically, what has been coming from it has not been as lyrically thoughtful as the previous album, in my opinion.

I must also nth non-surprise at hearing that El-P is a jerk. As a follower of his twitter feed, it seems deeply seated.
posted by koucha at 5:29 PM on May 8, 2012


Cashman: odd. I looked for a previously, but did not find one. As an aside, I never liked Fantastic Damage too much. I was really into Co Flow from about 94-97, but I never liked any of the Def Jux stuff (not a fan of Cage, Aesop Rock, or anyone on the label other than Can Ox) El did.

Then, about a year ago, he got his feet back under him and started killing shit. His new beats are ridiculous, and they fit with Killer Mike amazingly well. That's not even getting into how awesome it is that the two are working together, given their backgrounds.

(Also, I should say that while I absolutely love R.A.P. Music, I like Cancer For Cure a lot more. It's a remarkably strong album. I didn't want to link to much of it, though, since it is not out yet and they have not taken steps to make it [legally] available yet.)
posted by broadway bill at 5:33 PM on May 8, 2012


I never liked Fantastic Damage too much

Wow, really? The first 5 songs on that album are some of my all-time favorites.
posted by Hoopo at 5:50 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I don't really know anyone who agrees with me about it. Something about it just does not work for me, at all. I like Truancy a lot, but almost none of the other songs do it for me. Not sure why, because it basically sounds like el did on funcrusher, just better sound quality and whatnot. Something about his vocals on it irks me, though.

I barely even listen to Funcrusher anymore, either. But that's more because I know it kinda sounds awful, and some of the lyrics are cringe-inducing to me. With the advent of his new steez though, el has really sharpened both his writing and his delivery. And I think the beats speak for themselves.
posted by broadway bill at 5:56 PM on May 8, 2012


Awesome post! El-P fully producing a record for a member of the Dungeon Family is like a dream come true for my personal rap nerd tastes.

Yeah, El is pretty abrasive in all things. His Sole dis, Linda Tripp, is a seriously brutal song. I almost framed this post as a where-they've-been-since-the-beef thing with El and Sole, but I figure only a handful of mefites would carae.

Oh wow, I had forgotten about that beef! It was like the undie hip hop "Takeover"/"Ether" but with Sole trying to bring "Ether" without first having an Illmatic under his belt. I have to say I'm shocked that Anticon appears to still be a thing while Def Jux didn't really make it. I honestly can't remember the last time I listened to anything on Anticon, but Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein and Fantastic Damage are two of my all time favorites.
posted by ndfine at 6:09 PM on May 8, 2012


Can you expand on that a bit, blaneyphoto?
posted by neuromodulator


I'll send you a sitemail - I didn't intend my comment to become a derail to the original post...
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:29 PM on May 8, 2012


'Takeover'/'Ether'? I think LL/Canibus might be a closer comparison, or maybe Eminem/Everlast (or Eminem/Evidence). But I think 'Dear Elpee' is better than 'Linda Tripp' for the same reason I think 'Ether' is better than 'Takeover'--the underdog wants it more, and it's audible.

I know it's a minority opinion (and don't get me wrong--I think El-P's a better emcee overall), but I think Sole's El-P dis, 'Dear Elpee,', is much better than 'Linda Tripp.' It's got it all--he blows something way out of proportion, airs personal dirty laundry and inside-baseball critiques, makes unfounded accusations of conspiracy, brings in people who have nothing to do with it, and then ends it like 'yeah, bring it on.' That's a dis song.
posted by box at 6:52 PM on May 8, 2012


Oh, here's another Def Jux highlight: Mr. Lif's Return of the B-Boy (El-P on production). It's the bit after the changeover, ~ 3:50, that kills me. Awesome lyrics.
posted by neuromodulator at 6:53 PM on May 8, 2012


I almost framed this post as a where-they've-been-since-the-beef thing with El and Sole, but I figure only a handful of mefites would care.

Think I might just do a Sole post later this week though.


As one of those mefites, let me just say that I would love to read that post.

Years ago, there was this site about indie-hip-hop heartthrobs. It was a sort of teen-magazine parody, with pink hearts and weird interview questions with Sole and Dose One and Slug and people like that. Is that thing still around?
posted by box at 6:55 PM on May 8, 2012


Speaking of El-P productions: 'Sunrise Over Bklyn,' from the High Water Mark album with that Thirsty Ear William Parker/Matthew Shipp axis of jazz cats, is worth hearing.
posted by box at 6:58 PM on May 8, 2012


I have no hate for anyone who doesn't appreciate El-P's oeuvre, just...confusion. The man's production sounds like he's torturing a robot in a sex dungeon.
posted by Edgewise at 7:23 PM on May 8, 2012


But I think 'Dear Elpee' is better than 'Linda Tripp' for the same reason I think 'Ether' is better than 'Takeover'--the underdog wants it more, and it's audible.

Yeah, I was being harder on Sole/Anticon than I meant -- I'm actually with you on that 100%. "Dear Elpee" was definitely the better dis track ("Ether" as well) for all the reasons you mentioned, and I always thought it was just inherently more listenable. Plus, "Independent as FOX" was easily the best burn on either side.

As one of those mefites, let me just say that I would love to read that post.

Seconded.
posted by ndfine at 7:38 PM on May 8, 2012


The man's production sounds like he's torturing a robot in a sex dungeon.

Speaking of robot torture...(might also explain some of the unpleasantness; sounds like he had a rough upbringing).
posted by googly at 7:55 PM on May 8, 2012


In my day, we didn't have things like "remixes". You had the one mix they gave you and you were grateful for it.
You mean they released remixes as a maxi-cassette and you bought it for $5.99 without being able to hear it...


Indeed. I think actually the second or third CD I ever bought was a "maxi-single" with a bunch of remixes of "A Small Victory" by Faith No More, of all songs. Looking at their discography on Wikipedia I'm guessing I must have bought that in about 1993. I was about to snark that even grandpas with lawns to kick kids off of know about remixes, but it just struck me all the sudden that I've been listening to electronic/remix music for like 20 damn years. Wow.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 8:14 PM on May 8, 2012


I wonder who invented the remix.
posted by box at 8:30 PM on May 8, 2012


So I had to stop what I was doing to go watch A Small Victory and holy shit it's like they were trying to parody the concept of music videos.
posted by neuromodulator at 8:38 PM on May 8, 2012


sounds like he had a rough upbringing

Jesus. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get past the screwed up things my father did... then I read a story like that and I get a little bit ashamed for complaining at all.
posted by IAmUnaware at 9:30 PM on May 8, 2012


Nine thumbs up for Killer Mike. Burn is the anthem of the decade for me. Nearly flawless.

Hope this new stuff is as good.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:39 PM on May 8, 2012


More great Mike, a CNN interview about Burn and BET's rejection of the video.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:44 PM on May 8, 2012


I wonder who invented the remix.

The usual story is that it comes from Dub.
posted by bongo_x at 10:04 PM on May 8, 2012


Some of my favorite El-P records are the instrumentals.
posted by bongo_x at 10:04 PM on May 8, 2012


Joseph Gurl: I agree that Burn is maybe the song of the decade. It's so damn good. If you enjoy the CNN interview, and Mike in general, check out this video of the listening party for RAP Music. I linked to the end, because after playing Reagan Mike explains some of the sentiment, and tells an awesome story, and generally is cool as fuck.

Bongo_x: I would have agreed before Cancer 4 Cure that sometimes El is better as a producer than as a rapper, and that I could basically live without him rapping. Cancer changes that for me though.
posted by broadway bill at 10:20 PM on May 8, 2012


I don’t hate him as a rapper, I just don’t like to listen to rapping all the time, not nearly as much as I do the tracks. There are also instrumental version of albums he produced for other people. I listen to Dub way more than I do Reggae with vocals, so it’s just me.
posted by bongo_x at 10:31 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh, I heard about El-P on metafilter. Apparently the album has a trailer that's pretty entertaining.
posted by delmoi at 12:49 AM on May 9, 2012


*heart* El-P..
posted by Theta States at 7:40 AM on May 9, 2012


I particularly enjoyed his stylings on Karn Evil 9.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:32 AM on May 9, 2012


I listen to Dub way more than I do Reggae with vocals

SkibbidydiddlybiddlydiddlyWHY-y-y?
posted by Hoopo at 9:33 AM on May 9, 2012


I'm a big fan of El-P's work, though it doesn't come as much of a surprise that people are calling him abrasive. I often find myself thinking about his video for Deep Space 9mm - it uses a simple and powerful image as its basic conceit, one which I frequently find myself reflecting back on, but I can see how carrying that metaphor around all day can leave a person edgy and impersonal and no fun to be around.

I don't generally enjoy musicians whose focus is darkness and paranoia. During that weird ascendancy of nu-metal in the 90s I always felt like much of the music was distinctively "for children", that Korn and their cohorts were reacting to their (probably legitimate!) stressors through throwing loosely-choreographed tantrums. The music sounded like a plate of spaghetti being flung from a booster seat. El-P covers some of the same ground but does so unambiguously as an "adult". His persona isn't exploding with aggression, it's coiled and tense. It's the sound of PTSD and snarly overtalking to buy some time while the enemy encroaches...

... which I guess sounds totally unpleasant when I put it in writing, except I feel that El-P is an absolutely world-class producer. Dense creative dark sci-fi funk... Trent Reznor should've been humbled to work with him on "Flyentology", his sound is what NIN was shooting for but (imho! imho!) failed to achieve. Thanks for the post, I'm excited to hear the new records!
posted by metaman livingblog at 10:47 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


SkibbidydiddlybiddlydiddlyWHY-y-y?

Seen!
posted by cashman at 10:48 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


For me, Fantastic Damage is pretty much the ultimate musical post-9/11 aftershock.
posted by Theta States at 11:41 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Truly amazing he could actually helm a record company for so long with such an abrasivepersonality.

Are you aware of a man named Suge Knight?

W/R/T the robot sex torture, probably not far off with that one since he mined quite a bit of his sound from Blade Runner and other movies/records from that era.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 11:54 AM on May 9, 2012


Listened to the whole of R.A.P. Music yesterday in the car. I'm pretty unimpressed. The el production was good, but Killer Mike didn't seem to know how to maximize it. He was there, and it was there.

Maybe someone has a song that they think is impressive, and can say why. "Anywhere But Here" was the best it got for me. For a record I've seen others say was the record of the year, it just isn't even close to me.
posted by cashman at 8:16 AM on May 10, 2012


I'm not gonna try to convince you, but Reagan, Don't Die, Big Beast, and Untitled are all stellar songs in my opinion. Each of those is impressive for myriad reasons, mostly the same reasons any good rap song is impressive. For me, the biggest factor is that Mike and El-p basically reworked Cube's sound and content from his Bomb Squad era stuff and brought that into 2012 (or, like, 2021 in the case of Cancer 4 Cure). I also think Mike knows how to work the style of production El gave him in a way that not many others do. Beyond that, even, is just the conceptual awesomeness of El-P producing an entire album for Killer Mike. Beyond that, even, is the awesomeness of a fully realized rapper/producer album in 2012.

Like I said, I don't know what else to tell ya. For me--and lots of others--this is sort of the perfect storm I've been waiting on since about 1995.

I think RAP Music and C4C are both clearly in the running for best rap album of 2012, because I can't imagine much better is looming on the horizon. I also think, with a few exceptions, that both of them are better than any other hip hop released in the last couple years.
posted by broadway bill at 12:00 PM on May 10, 2012


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