El-P – “Smithereens (Stop Cryin’)”


“Bring me, the Dramatic Intro… Machine!

Damn, I love that bit.

Alright, now I’m hoping that you already know who El-P is. I feel like I’ve featured him in something before… but if you’re still oblivious then I’ll help you out, cuz I’m nice like that.

Brooklyn-bred emcee, producer and former label head El Producto has been a force in hip-hop since the early ’90s. As a member of Company Flow (a group I’ll surely cover eventually) he spit in the face of mainstream, corporate-driven hip-hop and help set the scene for independent rap in the late ’90s and ’00s. Going solo in the early 2000s he started up his own operation, Def Jux, which in its day was the label for crazy dope left-field rappers and musical acts. As well, El’s production work and solo albums have been quite influential, creating a notable space for experimental and damn-near deranged sounds in our favorite genre. Simply enough, the dude is something of a living legend.

But enough intro (aw, but we just got the machine going!), let’s get to the music. Today I’ve been on an El kick and this listen has been on repeat, as it’s truly one of my favorites listens by the artist. From his 2007 record, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, “Smithereens” was my formal introduction to El-P: A good primer for the uninitiated and an example of how awesome his music can be. “Smithereens” is an unstoppable force, an aural assault which bears down on you like the T-1000 chasing John Connor in the semi truck. This one is potent mix of paranoia, defiance, and pissed off battle rap, and El is definitely on his terror-mad visionary shit. To a dude raised by Public Enemy, I’m amazed by this listen’s ferocious sound and rapid pace, and El’s stark lyrics and unhinged ad-libs complete the package. This is another one of those listens where you hit play and stand the hell back.

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