Few hip-hop artists have the luxury of enjoying a fan-base dedicated enough to patiently wait around five full years for a new album to drop. Aesop Rock, who two days ago had an incredible turnout for his Amoeba SF in-store in support of his first album in five years - the incredible new album Skelethon on Rhymesayers, is one of these lucky artists. So too is his colleague & indie hip-hop contemporary El-P who has similarly returned after five years with an awesome new album - Cancer4Cure released recently on Fat Possum.
El-P "The Jig Is Up" from his new album Cancer4Cure
El-P's music history dates back two decades and includes his not-too-happy record business dealings with Rawkus Records (to whom his legendary NYC crew Company Flow was once signed to) followed by him setting up Def Jux (later known as Definitive Jux due to Def Jam suing over name similarity). He says that he may one day reignite his label but for now he is happy not having to deal with all the headaches that accompany running a company. As for how the music industry itself has shifted so radically in the two decades he has been in it I asked El-P if he ever thought it would be the way it is now in the Digital Age? "It was inevitable and no one could have predicted exactly how it would have happened but for me, in my mind, I always felt like it would in some way," he said. "It's a cultural shift that hasn't completely formed yet and there is a lot of leftover structure that still exists and that people are still trying to keep alive. It's not an easy thing to shut down an entire infrastructure and erect a completely new one. There's a lot of blood that happens in that kind of thing. But really I'm not too concerned with it all."
El-P "Oh Hail No (ft. Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire & Danny Brown)" from Cancer4Cure
I asked El-P what have been the biggest struggles he's faced over the years? "I don't really think of my career as a string of struggles. I feel very lucky to even have had any type of success and it's [his life] been sort of difficult to navigate at times," he admitted. "I think I came out of been like an angry kid who didn't have a lot of control in his life at a young age. So that kind of translated into someone who didn't want shit from anybody, who didn't want to deal with anybody telling them that they couldn't do what they wanted to do," he said adding that, "But my greatest struggle was really coming out of that and kind of coming to some peace about how I dealt with what I wanted and how my relationship to doing this shit is. You know it took me a long time to get to a place where I realized I couldn't control it and that it was dangerous and destructive to try."
El-P "The Full Retard" from his new album Cancer4Cure