I'll Sleep When You're Dead
It's been a while since an entire rap album makes it through my speakers (iPod or stereo). (Too bad all of Ghostface's recent wasn't “Shakey Dog.”) El-P's newest, “I'll Sleep When You're Dead” (Def Jux, 2007), is among the best I've heard since first coming across the production surprises and lyrics of Jean Grae's “Attack of the Attacking Things.” El-P opens with a slow-drawn sample from David Lynch's Fire Walk with Me, almost every track on the LP has impeccable raps, from complaints against God and day-to-day paranoia, post–9/11 NYC, elucubrating generational affinities (“My generation's carpooling with doom and disease...”), on to the harsh foreign policy comment/critique of the single and its video “Smithereens”:
“Why should I be sober when God is so clearly dusted out his mind?”
That's how some cities sound, Brooklyn in this case but various superimpose themselves for the listener. He takes poetics seriously enough to embarrass himself, scold us.