If hip-hop is a poetic form of culture, is there a limit on how creative you can be? If there is one, Brooklyn mic wrangler El-P knows how to warp the limitations into an imaginative thud that provides a brace for the stories behind Cancer For Cure. His first album in five years rarely touches a club joint as his imagery’s more hell-bent on flowing with a narrative; “Life’s but a pageant, that ain’t on no deep shit” he quips on “Stay Down”, a track that spirals into chaos after he relates to the breakdown of a soldier (“Tougher Colder Killer”) and flips over a Das Racist vocal clip to etch out modern day realizations. The record may be El-P’s most abstract set of recordings – which to the listener, it isn’t hard to wander aimlessly through his sharp conscious and thirst for hooks and electrified percussion – but it doesn’t lack emphasis. If his diction isn’t making incisions (“Ever notice when you talk, I just cut myself?”), his fever dreams (“Drones Over Bklyn”) and collective rebellious jaunts are, especially as his production slightly triggers the brilliance behind fellow MCs Killer Mike, Danny Brown and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire. There’s darkness in Cancer For Cure, but El-P’s ear for manipulating sounds and perspectives clip with intensity.
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