The debut solo album from El-P, Fantastic Damage
finds this rap firebrand elucidating on the confrontational themes that have characterised his career to date. As the lodestar of influential hip-hop trio Company Flow
, founder of independent hip-hop label Def Jux, and producer for Cannibal Ox's outstanding apocalyptic rap work The Cold Vein
, El-P has indelibly stamped his name across the landscape of leftfield hip-hop. But Fantastic Damage
is quite possibly his most extreme statement yet: a sprawling magnum opus of broiling anger and dysfunctional angst, expressed through his violent production techniques and satirical rhymes.
In spirit, the music echoes the revolutionary squall of the Bomb Squad, while not actually sounding a huge amount like it: the blistering funk of "Deep Space 9 mm" boasts a far more syrupy feel than Public Enemy's tight jams, while "Dead Disnee" boasts more in common with the modern wave of laptop-wielding electronica artists than any traditional rap groove. Rhyme-wise, too, this is a bleak work: "Stepfather Factory" envisages a menacing apocayptic future where errant parents are replaced by malfunctioning cyborgs, while "Deep Space 9 mm" finds El-P waxing unprintable about his former record label, Rawkus. At 70 minutes, it's a spot long--but anyone acquainted with El-P's earlier work should lap this up. --Louis Pattison