Under Review


I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead

Definitive Jux


Brooklyn native El-Producto, founder and CEO of hip-hop label Definitive Jux, has released warning after warning of impending doom and the crumbling of modern society. I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, the proper, anticipated follow-up to 2002’s Fantastic Damage, displays El-P’s anxiety and paranoia in full bloom. Laced with his layered, futuristic production, rap’s George Orwell delivers his ideas with clarity and precision, touching down on every societal impurity he can get his hands on.
This album is terrifying, plain and simple. Part of the horror comes from El-P’s certainty when describing his vision of apocalypse and the downfall of human civilization. At every moment during the thirteen tracks he seems to speak from experience, and the surrealism of his subject matter never does seem all that surreal. In fact, it seems quite plausible.
The other part of the horror comes from his beat-making. He creates dense soundscapes of wailing sirens, pulverizing drums, and clumsy pianos. Industrial and trashy, El-P’s beats sound like a mix between grinding machinery and Alfred Hitchcock sound effects. When layered on top of the vocals, it brings a whole new light to the urgency and panic expressed in his lyrics.
El-P won’t sleep soundly. Not for now, at least. But rest assured, some of the best material El-P has recorded can be found on this disc, and never has he sounded as matured and focussed. El maintains his status as underground hip-hop’s heavyweight MC/producer, and there is no doubt in my mind that he will continue to innovate as long as he can hold the mic in his right hand and the sampler in his left.