Cancer For Cure is a beast of an album. It leaves my pants covered in milk stains and left my extremities numb from the rush of blood it sent to my groin. I still have goose pimples and my gut is all in a knot, and I haven’t listened to the fucker in 3 hours. El-P has really fucking outdone himself this time. I don’t think I am telling tales out of school when I say that El-P albums traditionally aren’t the easiest listens. Packed with dense samples, jarring emotional highs and lows, and raps that are as equally damaging as they are glorious; it is the kind of shit that you need to strip down to your boxers and throw on a terry cloth robe to listen. He is a heavy muthafucker and he makes heavy music.
Cancer For Cure shares these characteristics but somehow it is a very easy listen. Not easy in say a Hotel California sort of way, but it is paced perfectly, by the time you get to the end of $4 Vic/FTL (You and Me) you feel like you have walked out of one of those movies that blew your mind and will get better every time you think about it or discuss it. It is probably his most cohesive and brilliantly executed piece of work in an already dazzling career.
The production reminds me very much of a modern day Bomb Squad, so many moving pieces and small nuggets and bread crumbs scattered through out. Every listen I am picking up new sounds and notes that I completely missed the previous time through. It is still distinctively EL-P - heavy bass, drums that are equal parts hard as Fuck, complex and obliterating and mountain of samples and sounds that somehow cohesively come together to create this dark and soulful landscape that is filled with anger, fear, romance, love, violence and sex.
As for the raps, well EL has never been better.
In a lot of ways it sounds as if he has married the b-boy style of the early Co-Flow days with the more conceptual style of Fantastic Damage and I’ll Sleep When You're Dead. It sounds very much like he dropped two or three digits into the beat and caressed the shit out of it, making every song pure like Brandon does when he sits on those massage chairs at the mall.
The guest appearances are few and far between and it really helps with the cohesiveness of the whole project, plus it helps that the appearances from Mr. MuthaFuckin Exquire, Killer Mike, Despot and Danny Brown are fucking full-on stellar. Danny Brown might have my favorite rap line of the year:
“I’m Ric Flair/ with thick hair/ yelling out whooo/ getting head in a directors chair”
Couple of quick final notes: