El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead
- Artist: El-P
- Album: I'll Sleep When You're Dead
- Label: Definitive Jux
- Year of Release: 2007
- ME Rating:
- Reviewed by: hstisgod on 2007-10-06
First off let's just say, I'd much rather be driving around with this CD in my truck. But truth is, I'm so excited about this recording, I couldn't resist the moment any longer. Secondly, let's give a shout to the promotional company, Audible Treats for getting this sure to be Indie-Classic into the my hands. I'll sleep When You're Dead is a phenomenal piece of work, trembling in raw dramatic twists and turns.
In some kind of oddly similiar way to Sesame Street, Smithereens kicks with some of the most energetic HipHop/Metal this side of the 21st century Back-n-Forth, the repeatedly slowed down hook hypnotizes you through the song. Regardless of what he's saying it sounds like "Crieeeeiing". The beat goes from drum and bass spin nature, and even some sort of dry wood instrumentation. A beat that sits like an antagonistic little boy pointing his finger at you while El-P follows the fast pace of his and Amaechi Uzoigwe's production. EL takes the song title literal with each sandwich of lyrics, each of his violin whining drop down hooks being blown to smithereens with his machine gun mouth. Additionally, Hangar 18 throws in some vocals as well.
Forget all the hype about the guest appearances, wipe your mind clear of what you thought of El-P before this record, as his debut Fantastic Damage is nothing compared to this record. This is a man on a mission and with clear intent. He's managed to somehow loosens the ties of Hip-Hop and knot em up with rock beat control, and fantastic roping of gouging lyricism. Though some tracks are goofy at times, Drive for example still have a very favorable beat, and lyricism that is easily imprinted on your brain. El-P even manages to drop the literary god himself, Hunter S. Thompson
Tasmanian Pain Coaster starts off this CD with a dark complex production of organ samplings, bass, and splash hook. The lyrics are in no discernable rhythm until the real aggression and beat actually drops. "This is the sound ..." echoes every other bar. Numerous speeds for flavorings with a rock background and hip hop belief, El-P is just opening the door here. This is also the first of many tracks to feature an imported mind; Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta
No Kings featuring Tame One has a simplistic feel, El got some shit to say, but the redundant energy is hard to break. Up All night has a crazy rhythm attached, something you don't forget, and as unique as it comes with another featured artist, fellow Indie Hip Hop King, Mr. Lif. A rough beat, wreaking of drum-n-bass and unorthodox synthetic proofing.
It took me a long time to get into Flyentology, It's terrific but not cause of (Trent) Reznor, Its merely the slowing down of an artist whose records are getting better with each drop beat and release. I can see why Reznor decided to ride the coat tails of this track. As Lynzey pointed out, the only weak track here is six, Dear Sirs which is more like an industrial quickie with a lyrical let loose, and some symphonic guitar samples.
With track nine, The Overly Dramatic Truth... the lyrics are there, while the beat is light and progressive. The structure of lyrics is echoeing, sometimes El-P slows down more than ever before. This is a change some people as far back as those who bought street tapes in Brooklyn of El-P may not care for, but it's the culmination of an artist at his vortex of ability. It's a cheeseball love song, but its got some pop potential. Ewww.... I said it and won't delete (or will I?) it, but this song could make some waves on some night local radio experiment show.
Let's set aside the terrific mixing by Joey Raia. Even WITHOUT the presence of guest stars like Aesop Rock, Slug, Murs, Mr. Len, Cage and a slew of wax cutting from Mr. Dibbs, we still have an early nominee for record of the year. Don't pass on this genre changing effort.
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on 2008-03-11 digitalbath Said:
I'm listening to this album right now and let me simply say:
This is what hip hop is supposed to sound like.
I wouldn't even call Dear Sirs the low point in the album. First hip hop song I've ever heard to intelligently incorporate an odd time signature (in this case, 5/8). I haven't found a low point.
on 2007-10-06 hstisgod Said:
sublogic 2007-03-21 “This is the sound, of what you don’t know, killin’ you!”-El-P “Tasmanian Pain Coaster” I’ve always felt like the smallest cog in some grimy intergalactic machine whenever I’ve listened to anything with the dirty, electro-noise that has come to define El-P’s sound. Ever since that first glimpse of Company Flow’s “End-to-End Burners“, on Rap City one afternoon, I was hooked. Company Flow’s debut album, Funcrusher Plus, was an eye-opener that didn’t seem to follow any of those rules I was led to believe defined Hip-Hop music. It just seemed like a stream of consciousness form of rhyming over off-time post-apocalyptic beats. Like data being spit out of a newly powered-up computer, attempting to learn. But it was pure Hip-Hop, straight four elements. Rhyming, writing(graffiti), breaking, and dj-ing. All re-worked and ejected out in this new form. It expanded the universe as I knew it. Fast forward ten years later. Company Flow called it quits in 2001 and El-P and Amaechi Uzoigwe co-founded Def Jux Records in 1999. (A cease and desist from Def Jam forced the label to change their name to Definitive Jux in 2001.) With a roster that includes Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox, Cage, and Mr. Lif, they’ve become the most respected independent Hip-Hop label in the industry. In this time they’ve spun out album after album of innovative material. Including El-P’s own, Fantastic Damage, which effected me as much as Funcrusher. Aesop’s Labor Days, Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein, and Funcrusher Plus were reminders of possibilities, kind of like the Terminator movies. Eerie and thought provoking, but not quite taken seriously. Fantastic Damage and Mr. Lif’s Emergency Rations, both released months after 9/11, put a whole new spin on the sound. A little too real, and a call to actually look ahead. Finally, after almost 5 years of waiting, El-P releases his second album, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead(ISWYD). I’ve read Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. I’ve seen Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly, and even A Day In The Afterlife, the documentary about Phillip K. Dick. But, I don’t think I’ll ever understand how they influenced El-P. He’s like some kind of time traveller that’s seen the future and needs someone, anyone, to listen. What you have in ISWYD is the results of people listening. The proof is in the collaborations. Mars Volta, Trent Reznor, Chan from Cat Power, and former Chavez and Zwan guitarist Matt Sweeney. As well as fellow jukies Aesop Rock, Cage, and Tame One. All spanning the spectrum that is Modern Music. The best way I know how to explain the album, is that at any time, El-P can be commenting on the state of himself, his relationships, his home, his city, his country, the world, or even Hip-Hop. I wonder, with hope, if someone will walk into I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead blind, and experience it, like those that first experienced Dark Side Of The Moon or OK Computer. I’ll say simply check this album out. It’s the next level of a better form of music.