Tuesday, December 22, 2009

#10. El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead (Definitive Jux, 2007)

Long day, so we go to bullet points here...

  • The first eight tracks make up the strongest stretch of any hip hop album this decade, which is probably 90% of the reason I'm putting this so high up here.
  • As with most of the other hip hop albums on the list it truly benefits from the cohesion of having a consistent producer.
  • Part of me sees this as a concept album about a disillusioned soldier wandering around New York just before he's to return to duty, or at least an album-long comment on the downfall of NYC in general, but it's not quite gelling yet.
  • The version of "The Overly Dramatic Truth" that El-P did at the Plug awards in 2007 is fucking phenomenal in a way that the album version just can't match.
  • Funny how El-P gets the best out of The Mars Volta and Cat Power but collaborating with Trent Reznor, arguably someone more on his wavelength, leads to the album's only true weak spot.
  • "The League of Extraordinary Nobodies" represents the best use of a laugh-track this decade.
  • "Habeas Corpses" is gallows' humour perfected.
  • Bleak, bleak production all over the album. It makes Fantastic Damage seem like a Disney movie at some points - and that's saying something.
  • Yet for all its bleakness it's an oddly uplifting album. It oculd just be the lovely Cat Power-ed coda of "Poisenville Kids" but the album seems to end on a hopeful note.
  • Funny how both Aesop Rock and El-P arguably had the best verses on eachother's 2007 offerings.
  • While there's nothing as wrenching as "Stepfather Factory" here it really is hard to begrudge it that, especially during that phenomenal octet it begins with.
Might be doing this pretty often for these last few entries...fuckin' holidays.

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