El-P Develops a Futuristic Concept

Emerging from the roots of modern underground hip-hop with the group Company Flow, El-P is no stranger to the game – in fact, by founding Def Jux Records, he has an active role in defining it.

Coming off a five-year hiatus since his widely hailed “Fantastic Damage,” El- Producto is finally answering the pleas of hip-hop enthusiasts and Def-Jukies alike. “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” wears El-P’s tortured soul on its sleeve yielding a dark, haunted persona.

The album serves as a soundtrack for a post-apocalyptic New York City circa 2025, warping everything from driving (“my generation is carpooling with doom and disease”) to a spaceage scenario, “Habeas Corpses,” in which El-P and cohort Cage take on roles as guards on a prison ship. El-P plans his escape with his rescued inmate lover, only to end up killing her per his superior’s request. The twisted narrative that ensues from beginning to end is something for listeners to revel in.

The use of heavyweight guests Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and Cedric Bixler-Zavala (Mars Volta) as mere side note performers speaks to El-P’s demented genius and prowess as an artist.

One advantage to the mediocrity of today’s hip-hop is that when a solid record is created, its reception is not just well received for its composition, worldplay or flow, but for its potential to singlehandedly resurrect hip-hop from its current drabness and place it back upon the pedestal it has created for itself as an art form.

This is a heavy weight to bear and El-P does a superb job shouldering it as he pours his heart, soul and Xanax prescription into thirteen beautifully cluttered tracks.