Thursday, December 2, 2010

Terrace Preview: El-P December 4th Concert

When I asked how he discovered his musical talent, Terrace’s next performer El-P responded “I’m still not sure if I have any”. That’s certainly a modest response coming from rapper and producer extraordinaire Jaime Meline, the man that music critic Steve Huey once said is “one of the most technically gifted MCs of his time, spitting out near-impossible phrases and rhythmic variations that simply leave the listener’s head spinning”.

Perhaps it's the unconventional nature of his brilliance that makes his talent so elusive. As the son of a jazz pianist and a Brooklyn resident, El-P (short for El-Producto) was always surrounded by eclectic types of music. Although he took piano lessons at a young age, he was never passionate for the instrument, and he would constantly tinker with his father’s record collections instead. In retrospect, such habits seem indicative of his innovative work in recent years.

He cites George Orwell and LL Cool J in his rhymes. Each song is a diverse patchwork of samples and influences. He is the CEO of his own record label. He’s not afraid to offend his listeners with the truth, no matter how brutal or gritty his verses may be. He’s an iconoclast whose music is meant to offend, not to placate. The infamously picky and pretentious Pitchfork Media has favorably described his genius as “tense and paranoid…blending waves of cacophony over broken rhythms…haunted by the prospect of a dystopian near-future”. And it works for him; his raps are more taboo, witty, and provocative than most mainstream rappers could fathom. Isn’t that what rap should be?

So, if you want your head to spin from something other than Milwaukee’s Best this weekend, hit up Terrace to see El-P for what he claims will be a “dope and intense rap show experience”. However, the squeamish need not apply; El-P says he is going to have LOTS of fun, even it gets a bit loud and uncomfortable for us Princetonians. I say we show him that we know how to have a good time too.

For a taste of his latest and greatest creative endeavors, listen to “Habeas Corpses” off I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead and “Time Won’t Tell” from Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3, available, of course, on YouTube.

-Michael Becker ‘14

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