El-P, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead

Tim Noakes

By Tim Noakes

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A bumpy ride through El-P’s New York state of mind, post-9/11.

In the five years since he released the aggro rap classic Fantastic Damage, El-P has become even more paranoid. On this, his second solo LP, the Brooklyn-based beatmaker/MC takes the listener on a bumpy ride through his New York state of mind. It's a dark journey. Packed with thumping drums, frantic machine gun vocals, cyborg fantasies and synth lines worthy of John Carpenter, I'll Sleep When You're Dead blends together the best elements of Company Flow's Little Johnny from the Hospital, Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein and Fantastic Damage. The album comes with an intriguing guest list, cleverly utilising the distinctly un-hip-hop talents of: Trent Reznor, Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio, members of the Mars Volta, former Chavez frontman Matt Sweeney, Yo La Tengo's James McNew, Head Automatica's Daryl Palumbo and Cat Power's Chan Marshall. The result is a musically engrossing, if somewhat oppressive, internal war report from one of hip-hop's most consistently imaginative producers.