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Aural Pleasure Review

El-P: 'Cancer for Cure'

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For 10 years, El-P has kept tabs on the background radiation of the post-9/11 U.S., not by writing blatantly political rap, but by alluding to the state of the union with a nihilist persona and sinister prog rock-inspired beats. Cancer for Cure, only El-P's third solo release in said decade, is supposed to arrive as his most intense declaration, his self-described "fight music" because "Enough is fuckin' enough." El-P's rhymes and songcraft are as tight, immediate, and seamless as ever, and the run time is his leanest. The subdued torture poem "Sign Here" and partner-in-murder ballad "For My Upstairs Neighbor (Mums the Word)" counterbalance knuckle-dusting cuts "The Full Retard" and "Tougher Colder Killer," while never betraying the record's theme. El-P reaches for tribute and love respectively in closing suite "$4 Vic/FTL (Me and You)," giving the album's violence purpose. But what Cancer makes evident is, in the decade since Fantastic Damage, the crisis that calls El-P to work never dies. It only evolves. Even in the roaring '90s, El-P would be evoking a collective (and menacing) dread. In this way, Cancer for Cure is like the transcendent OK Computer, but armed and at large.

★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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