I went to two record shops in Chicago. Supposedly the two best in the city. Permanant Records and Dusty Groove. Both of ‘em were great record shops. Dusty Grooves specialized in Soul, Funk, Hip-Hop with some Rock and Jazz thrown in (very little Blues) on top of some great Dub and Reggea records. Anyways, I’m liking the idea of posting while I listen to a record; even though it’s been done before. A LOT. But this is with vinyl, which helps. So, I’m presenting the first of “The Vinyl Bin”. This time it’s El-P’s “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead”. Which is arguably my favorite record since 2000.
Tazmanian Pain Coaster – Yesterday at Soundset he opened with this opening track, which is ballsy. It’s fairly long, clocking in around 7 minutes or so. The song builds to an epic, almost Queen-like, cataclysm where the dudes from Mars Volta step in to bring it full circle. This is one of the best opening songs on any Hip-Hop album I’ve heard. Perhaps I’m biased. But there’s even a David Lynch/Twin Peaks quote at the beginning.
Smithereens (Stop Cryin’) – Actually I’m fairly positive that this was his second song of the set yesterday, following the track listing on his latest (not new) album. In the beginning he was asking the crowd if they wanted “happy” music, while the “dramatic intro machine” clicked into position as a 1950′s TV show theme song swept itself into yet another deep, dark, beat and rhythm of the sub consciousness of El-P. Yeah, it’s dark. Heavy too, love this track. If you haven’t seen the video, which is basically just El-P getting tortured in a Gitmo-type setting, I’d advise you to.
Up All Night – This might be this albums least Electronic sounding beat. Yes, the music itself is still somewhat Electronic, but the beat is mostly a tom-tom type deal that wouldn’t feel out of place next to Local H’s “White Belt Boys”. I went there. “I see you all regardless. I know what lies are like. I might have been born yesterday, sir, but I stayed up all night”. I hope someday people realize how artistic rap music can be. Another great track.
EMG – “EMG” stands for “everything must go“… which stands for El-P’s attack on American Consumerism which seems to have gotten us into the mess we’re in, but it’s also now the solution. Fucking economics. This was for sure played yesterday, as I remember discussing the lyrics with my pal. It’s not hard to see that when he mentions “the dream”, which he apparently wants to “sell” sarcastically, he’s referring to the “American Dream”. At this point, honestly, it’s on its death bed. El-P knows that. I like the end where the song takes a big one eighty into sing-along, chant, “HO!” territory.
Drive – Wow, another awesome track. “My generation is car pooling with doom and disease“. There’s clearly LOTS of symbolism in El-P’s lyrics, beats, production, even live shows. But this track is filled with it. “Busted up for the God’s of oil-mining, in a Hum-V with no bullet-proof siding“. Holy shit. We gotta remember here this came out during the whole “we don’t give our soldiers the proper helmets or truck armor, even though we bring them into the most dangerous part of the world”. Out of all the songs, I think this one attacks the 9/11 response by the Bush Administration the most. But remember, the dude’s from Brooklyn so he’s also in some cases talking about 9/11. Though symbolically.
Run The Numbers – Ahh, the Aesop Rock track. This song in fucking sweet, and one of several tracks with cuts from the unimatatable Mr. Dibbs. This also has a quote from Kill Bill Vol. 1 where Lucy Lui, sorry O-Ren-Ishi, exclaims: “NOW’s the FUCKING time!!!”. Not sure what this song is about. Although there’s a line where they say “sittin’ on the front line, you can hear the soldiers sing….”. The end of this song is where the true master plan comes into focus, with a recurring chord progression and vocal chorus that will appear more than once again before the end of the album.
Hebeas Corpses(Draconian Love) – When I really started realizing the genius of this album, I was listening to it for maybe the third time the day I bought it. On headphones, while going to sleep. Yeah, not the best idea. Unless you want some post-War nightmares bordering on post-Apocalypse. Cage plays the roll of the co-worker on the prison ship El-P and his girl flee from. There are gunshots towards the end of this, representing the prison guards of the ship executing prisoners. This was the point on the album when I actually started to fall asleep that night though, and the shots scared the shit out of me more than once.
The Overly Dramatic Truth – He closed with this song, after an unbelievable Dibbs showcase, yesterday. This might be the most popular song off this album, not saying much, even in front of the Trent Reznor song. “I can’t give what I can’t take”. If he fell in love Prisoner 10507-Z last song, then this is his love letter to her. Make no mistake, this track is a LOVE song. It might be hard to tell with El-P, but yes this is a love song. “I can’t give what I can’t take”.
Flyentology – Is there anything cooler than Rob Sonic, El-P, and Trent Reznor getting down on a Trance beat. Apparently “Flyentology” has yet to be offically defined. This song might help though with the chorus: “There are no aetheists in the fox-hole. There is no intellect in the air. There are no scientists on the way down, just a working example of faith versus physics”. And with the voice of Reznor yelling “meet me in the sky”, this is one heavy track. Great beat too.
No Kings – A No Hero and Kings mash-up?? No. This song is a bit more old-school El-P sounding. With a track that reminds me of ONLY one song off “Strictly Leakage” (which is FREE, so go get it). It features a dude named Tame One. It features one or two splices of something vaugely sounding like 80′s Hip-Hop. See, it isn’t all doom and gloom.
The League of Extraordinary Nobodies – It’s awesome how this song is organized. During the verses El-P rattles off one-liner after one-liner and a very sitcom-esque crowd giggles and laughs after and between each of them. This builds to a pre-chorus type deal which happens twice before the song ascends into a horn infused climax where El-P says “we haven’t even gotten to the part where it’s a joke”. Clever to say the least.
Poisenville Kids No Wins / Reprise (This Must Be Our Time) - Well, the album opens with a seven minute track and it’s closing with a seven minute track. This song is incredibly dark, but still melodic as hell for El-P. Kinda interesting lyrically here. Because the last few tracks (the last 1/3 of the album) features the most surreal and fantasy lyrics. Especially the prison-ship song, and even through the last track. There’s some chick singing between the “woo’s” who sounds great. And no, that ain’t any AUTO-TUNE. But part of me thinks a lot of these lyrics are about El-P himself, and his status as a New Yorker, as a rapper, as a musician and artist. Though it’s hard to say. Now I’m gonna put my computer down and just listen to this last half (which is all instrumental). Great album.