El-P: Cancer 4 Cure

Cancer 4 Cure
(Fat Possum Records)

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El-P has probably given up and just wants to rub it in everyone’s faces that he called how terrible things in the world were going to get. The only solution left now, is to let cancer fix everything, let it cure what’s wrong and let whatever’s made to last come out strong at the end. El-P is aggressive and angry enough to be one of those things made to last, probably leading a horde of similarly minded people.

The beats on Cancer 4 Cure are typical of underground and classic hip hop, sampled sounds of urban life, very heavy, very chunky bass, and a rhythm that is the impetus for every new line. This isn’t necessarily hip hop that you should be dancing too, but that’s sort of the point. El-P has something to say, and the music captures the mood of what he’s going to be saying. It’s aggressive, but not overbearing. It sets off the part of the pensive, philosophical part of the brain. Oh, and maybe the shoulders, an occasional finger snap to catch the beat, and lots of head nodding. Head nodding and thoughtful hip hop go hand in hand, the music demands it, and the lyrics will catch you in agreement.

“Sign Here” sets the tone for the album, even though it happens toward the end of the middle. El-P begins by interrogating an unknown person (presumably the listener), but then a dialogue:

El-P: “You’re safety word is yes. Try it.”

Woman’s Voice: “Yes.”

El-P: “I restrain you now for your protection. Do I have your consent for this?”

Woman: “Yes.”

Even if the lyrics are extremely nihilistic, Cancer for Cure, is a strong performance with throwback beats that are nearly cohesive enough to fully push the album into the territory of a concept album. The positive message to be taken away from the despair, is that giving up would just be weak, no matter how difficult life is, there’s got to be an aggressive push against despair. That’s why it’s cancer for the cure, because you have to go all out.

From “The Full Retard”:

“I am Sam, I am known to go H.A.M., the full retard/So you should pump this shit like they do in the future.”

They’re doing it right years down the line, you have to start doing it right now.

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