El-P – Cancer 4 Cure (Album Stream / Review)
A few weeks ago, Brooklyn native and indie-hip hop icon El-P released his latest full-length project, in the well-received Cancer 4 Cure. Really beginning in 1993, the journey behind the 37-yr-old’s career has been rooted in the culture of the genre as a whole more so than any one discipline, wearing the hat of producer, lyricist, label CEO, visual artist, and plenty more.
In covering this latest release, we’ll bring words from past contributor and founder of FreeWeedy.com, Naveed Ahmad (@NaveedMBS). Read his outlook at the jump, stream below, and purchase Cancer 4 Cure here.
Jamie Meline, a Brooklyn native, is a hip-hop producer, getting behind the boards for Murs, Aesop Rock,
and Cage, among others. He also was the CEO of Definitive Jux, or “Def Jux,” a rap label he founded in
1999, before it morphed into a brand name, sometime around 2010.
But cast the titles aside, and Jamie Meline is an artist, who goes by the MC name El-P.
It’s been over 5 years since his last album, and his new piece, Cancer 4 Cure, dropped May 22nd of this
Cancer 4 Cure is a booming piece of art, that is, before it devolves, musically and lyrically, into a highly
critical attack on the MC himself.
But El-P’s talent as producer and MC keeps Cancer 4 Cure fresh throughout, even if the personal
beatings are a bit much.
Now if you want to know what “booming” means, skip straight to track two, “The Full Retard,” where
the song blasts off with an infectious “So you should pump this shit/like they do in the future,” chant. El-
P dazzles here with wordplay, and you can’t help but smile with lines like “I am Sam/I am known to go
H.A.M./the full retard.”
In “Drones Over BKLYN,” the beat knocks even harder, with a steady snare to create a pure boom-bap
sound. Thirty seconds deep, when the symbol comes in over the top, you have hip-hop music at its
His rhymes are on point as well, dropping gems like, “A wabbit in crosshairs/mechanical foxhunt/
be quiet, they’re hunting now/the method is awesome.” After he brings in spacey moans around
3:15, “Drones Over BKLYN” takes on new life, before getting stripped down for the last 1:50
The whole song is a master performance by the Brooklyn MC.
However, for the last half of the album, the music literally takes a backseat, as the boom-bap sound is
turned down in favor of a more monotone, electro-tinged buzz.
What come to the forefront are El-P’s lyrics, and we’re treated to the MC delivering a scathing criticism
of himself, over and over again.
Meline is a sharp cat, so the self-flagellation may not be so clear at first. But listen a little closer, and a
clear narrative emerges.
“They wanna cure you/you’re the cancer/you’re the fucking problem/you’re the pollution/you’re the
issue/and they wanna solve you/they wanna cure you/you’re the cancer/how’s that make you feel?” he
spews in the beginning of “True Story.”
It may seem like Meline is commenting on society in general, but each song in the last half of Cancer 4
Cure sharpens the focus on El-P, more and more narrowly.
In “The Jig Is Up,” it’s almost as if Meline is physically looking at himself in a mirror, spitting out every
negative thing he feels. “Look at me/I’m on to you/no more lies/I’m on to you/then again/you might be
out of your God damn mind,” he snarls, before the chorus drowns us with “I wouldn’t want to be a part
of any club that would have me,” over and over again.
The commentary is interesting, but by the time “For My Upstairs Neighbor (Mums The Word)” arrives,
with lines like “If you kill him/I won’t tell,” being dropped, enough is enough. There’s only so much self-
hatred a listener can take. And if there’s any doubt to what El-P means, look for the line in the closing
track, “$4 Vic/FTL (Me & You),” where he says, “And I can no longer contain what’s under my disguise/
I’ve always had the cancer for the cure/that’s what the fuck am I.”
Under the hand of a more amateur producer/MC, Cancer 4 Cure would be self-indulgent trash. But El-
P is a skilled artist, one who constructs meticulously layered songs that reward careful listeners with
Cancer 4 Cure is a pleasure to listen to, and covers up the tiresome lyrics, more often than not.
Rating: 4 out of 5
- “The Full Retard
- “Over BKLYN”
- “Tougher Colder Killer (Ft. Killer Mike & Despot)”
Free Weedy is a community of content for every hip-hop consumer. The latest news and tracks, mixtape
and album reviews, downloads, original coverage, and original content. Purist. Street. Mainstream. Frat.
Local. Which one are you? Visit our website at www.freeweedy.com and follow us @FREEWEEDY to find