EL-P plays the Hoxton with Killer Mike and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire on July 9. See listing. Rating: NNNN
It's been five years since El-P's last album. In that time, the baron behind Def Jux - a now-defunct, still-storied label repping rap's altier acts - reprised his role as tastemaker for the indie rap circuit and also lost good friend and collaborator Camu Tao.
El-P's always been a cynic, but on his third solo record, a preoccupation with death and paranoia - no doubt exacerbated by these life changes - is his muse. The production has been updated for a new, not so distant future, but retains its mechanical crunch and metallic din - a Martian minor-chord mise en scène.
Meanwhile, his hard-nosed monologues - with bit parts from Killer Mike, eXquire, Danny Brown and Despot - are wearier and more desolate. "I've got memories to lose, man," he raps on Works Every Time. The world's fucked, so El-P's just fighting himself now. He emerges, changed and with eyes glazed, victorious.
Top track: Tougher Colder Killer