EL-P – Cancer 4 Cure (2012)

Review by: Franco Micale
Album assigned by: Jonathan Moss

I’m going to be honest, I’m not one who is really qualified to review rap music. For one thing, I have been so busy lately that I have not been able to find a satisfying amount of time to really digest, listen to and examine this album from multiple angles. On top of that, hip hop is such a lyrically focused genre of music, and while I can be good at analyzing and dissecting apart literature, poetry, and lyrics, it tends to take me a lot of work, and I’ve just finished my summer quarter of school and I really don’t want to force myself to write an essay detailing the philosophical and sociological messages of “Cancer 4 Cure”. So, pardon me if I am not reviewing and judging this album “properly”. 

I will talk about what I know, and this album sounds amazing. The whole thing, when I visualize it, is like some giant, cinematic, sci-fi action movie, except the movie is about some dystopian society filled with drones, security cameras, and watchguard robots. E-lp’s lyrics seem to deal with detachment and disassociation from the world…finding dissatisfaction from relationships, cheap thrills, technology, fame, the government… just listening to him rap stirs my soul in various way. I can feel the ANGER, the RAGE, the PASSION in what he’s doing, both in his words and his delivery. I don’t know if I can really nail down any specific moments that catch my attention, but to me I consider this album to be solidified proof that anyone who says that rap music is a “stupid” genre of art either:

Have barely heard any rap music, or
Are over the age of 40 and can no longer find appreciation in trendy new types of music

Anyways, moving on, let’s discuss the SOUND and STYLE of this album.This album is a mixture of synthesized sounds, mechanized drum beats, and variety of samples and big, attention grabbing effects, which all seem to create what is the auditory equivalent to a high budget sci-fi movie. This flashy production contrasts and compliments E-lp’s frustration and desperation in a consumeristic and technology driven world,and on a surface level, everything just dazzles me.

Overall, I could go into more detail, but eh. I just don’t feel like it. I’ll let you listen to it, and decide for yourself the quality of this album.

So overall, even though I don’t feel extreme love towards it, it’s a perfectly great and solid album with not a real bad moment. For people who are interested in rap music, but aren’t really sure where to start, this might not be a bad beginning point.

Did I enjoy this album? A: Yes

Should you listen to this album? A: If you like rap music, yes you should.

Is it essential that you listen to this album? A: I don’t know how innovative or revolutionary or how different this is from other rap music, so I don’t know if I can answer this. But yes, it feels important enough.

If you like this album, what should you listen to? A: I haven’t heard them, but Run The Jewels is the main project that E-lp is a part of, so I’d check that out.

FAVORITE TRACK? A: Album was very consistent, can’t quite pick out one.