I’ve been listening to EL-P since the days of Rawkus Records (and subsequently famously denounced the label), since the days of SoundBombing compilations, since Cannibal Ox, since he ran Def Jux, through his solo material and of course, his crowning relationship with his cohort Killer Mike, as Run The Jewels.

They have an alchemy that is rare. That two essentially aged rappers are able to command such a large fervent audience and make music that bangs harder, digs deeper and explore 21st American issues with the camaraderie and swagger of cartoon villains is a large part of their appeal and one of the most impressive things about Run The Jewels.

That foundation was built on Killer Mike’s debut album Rap Music, which El-P was brought in to produce a track on. He ended up producing the whole album after Mike who wasn’t familiar with El-P’s work realised he was working with someone special, who was able to produce songs with enough low-end to detonate bombs, to create beats that were dystopian, claustrophobic but comically rendered.

In tribute, and in no way definitively, here are 10 of my favourite El-P productions from across his career. This could go on for dozens more.


1.

Company Flow – ‘End to End Burners’ (1997)

Early El-P had some funk to it that he regained and reworked in his work for Run The Jewels alongside the earth-shattering low-end. ‘End to End Burners’ was my gateway into the world of underground hip-hop. I remember seeing the group: EL-P, Big Juss and Mr Len perform it on Jo Whiley talk show for Channel 4 back in the day. “Diss Me On the Internet,” must have been a novel reference at the time.


2.

Company Flow – 8 Steps To Perfection (1997)

Funcrusher Plus was one of the first alternative rap albums I heard and it’s mood was akin to Gravediggaz at the time – a weird curio album, except for me, this was king. ‘8 Steps To Perfection’ is uncharacteristically laid-back for an El-P production but it lets the MCs roam. There are no sirens in the distance, just a watery synth line, some gurgling robotic noises and a head-nodding low-end.


3.

Cannibal Ox – ‘Vein’ (2001)

The Cold Vein is grimey. Not in the way of genre but in the way, it holds humanity down on the floor and forces it to eat the dirt. The world is a dark place and there is rubbish in every corner. Like much of the album ‘Vein’ proceeds as if it’s ricocheting off society’s worst nightmares of itself. El-P produced the entire album for MCs Vast Aire and Vordul Mega and was a part of the group. The Cold Vein is one of the all-time greats.


4.

El-P – Deep Space 9MM (2002)

“Sign to Rawkus? I’d rather be mouth fucked by Nazis unconscious,” is how El-P addresses his former partnership with the label on his 2002 debut Fantastic Damage, a caustic and dystopian album that would form the blueprint his trademark style. ‘Deep Space 9MM’ taking its name from the Star Trek series and combining it with a handgun reference has one of El’s most recognisable beats, a clattering beat that is combined with El at a time in Def Jux’s lifespan when the MCs (like Aesop Rock) were twisting and ciphering their words into an artform.


5.

El-P – Poisonville Kids No Wins (2007)

The closing track on El-P’s I’ll Sleep When Your Dead as akin to an expansive zoom-out of a cityscape with Cat Power wooing atop the track. This is like if El produced a Portishead song.


6.

El-P – Fuck The Law (2008)

Slightly cheating somewhat, but the job of a good producer is also knowing when to employ the right sample and this track takes Modeselektor’s ‘Edgar’, A German electronic song and recasts it in his own image. This is from the WeAreAllGoingToBurnInHell Megamixxx2 mixtape.


7.

Killer Mike -‘Big Beast’ with Bun B, T.I and Trouble (2012)

An homage to Public Enemy. El-P applies some old-school boom bap with some grade-A dangerous low-end on a highlight from his collaboration with Mike on Rap Music, an album he produced in full and is responsible for RTJ.


8.

El-P – ‘The Full Retard’ (2012)

From 2012’s Cancer 4 The Cure, his last solo album, ‘The Full Retard’ is a maniacal laugh in the form of a track.


9.

Run The Jewels – ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)’ (2014)

With Zach De La Rocha on board (not their first time together), this was the song that made Run The Jewels 2 lift into the stratosphere and completely put Mike and El in a different league after the excellent RTJ1.


10.

Run The Jewels – ‘Call Ticketron’ (2016)

By RTJ3, Mike and El are running at full clip and ‘Call Ticketron’ mainlines the best parts of El’s production techniques – a nod to the old school of ‘It Takes Two’, a booming minimalism, a club-rap pace and a great sample.


Posted on March 30th, 2017

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Loose Joints is new podcast hosted by Nialler9 and Sally Cinnamon talking to people about the music they love: old and new.

For number three we are joined by Emmet Kirwan, actor and writer. You might know him from his brilliant stage show Dublin Old School, Just Saying or most recently Thisispopbaby’s RIOT show at the Fringe.

Our musical selection is banger-heavy and our chat takes in losing your hearing in Ibiza, your ideal funeral songs, we agonise over our guilty pleasure choices and Emmet explains the appeal of Mark Morrison’s Get Horny,  Sally explains the torrid appeal of “the mortify human saveloy that is Simply Red” and backbreakers.

Subscribe in iTunes.

Also available in Stitcher, Pocket Casts and TuneIn.

Download: Loose Joints Podcast #3: Emmet Kirwan (99MB, 1hr 40mins)

Tracklisting

  1. Young Marco – Dreamless
  2. Falcons – Aquafina feat. GoldLink & Chaz French
  3. Chance The Rapper’s All Night (Kaytranada remix)
  4. What tune or band takes you back to your youth the most?
    Dusty Kid – Tsunamy
  5. A song you’d like played at your funeral?
    Souls Of Mischief – 93 Til Infinity
  6. Solange – Cranes In The Sky (Kaytranada remix)
  7. A song that reminds you of family:
    The Housemartins – Caravan Of Love
  8. Nxworries – Lyk Dis
  9. Guilty Pleasures:
    Mark Morrison – Get Horny
  10. Enya – Sail Away
  11. Simply Red – Stars
  12. A song that gets you inspired
    El-P – The Full Retard
  13. Lil Silva – De Ja (feat. Kent Jamz)

Loose Joints #1: Aidan Kelly.
Loose Joints #2: Oisin Davis.

Special thanks to Sean Corcoran for facilitating recording.

Posted on October 25th, 2016

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While his former fellow Rage Against The Machine members are leading a noble but not exactly well-thought out new project with Chuck D and Cypress Hill (a Samsung-sponsored TV event jars with the song), Zack De La Rocha’s most recent feature with Run The Jewels on ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)’ has lead to El-P producing ‘Digging For Windows’, a new solo single Rocha. El-P collaborators Matt Sweeney and Nick Hook play guitar and keys respectively.

The track is a free download too.

Lyrics

fuck that bright shit
the spot or the flashlights
we in la ducking both
in the shadows with lead pipes
the days are all night

see if i pay edison
no medicine
these blues ain’t more better when
my fever rise in the jungle
as quick as the price spikes
the days are all night

my future snapped like a rubber band
off my fold on a hand to hand
he drew from his waist
i put two in his roof
and i can still hear his screams
all night

now they ride their portfolios
like rodeos
rise every time my cherry glows
on the end of my cig as
the smoke blows through the bars
and the co’s laugh fades
as he strolls away
says i gotta pay
off that roll away
or its fuck your visitation days
and i pop off so in solitaire
i dream of offing these fred astaires
and the skin off my fingers tear
we digging for windows here
where the days are all night

this city’s a trap my partner
under the lights of they choppers
bodies tools for they coffers
not worth the cost of our coffins
i stare at a future so toxic
no trust in the dust of a promise
won’t mark the name on a ballot
so they can be free to devour our options
and just like you I’m a target
ill defined by the guap in my pocket
but the stage make figures
as quick as it off em
what marley and pac get?
i put these caps in capitals
leave minds blazed in they capitols
i step with a fury so actual fact
that my offense could be capital

we digging for windows here

Posted on September 8th, 2016

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Update: It’s 2016, I found this post and enjoyed it. I’ve now added a Spotify playlist of all of the albums available.

Below is a list of my favourite records of the ten years between the turn of the millenium, the year 2000 and 2010. Ranking these albums was led by a) what the album means to me and b) how often I’d listen to it. Each and every one of these albums blew me away repeatedly at some time between the ages of 18 and 27. Each one has something special going for it, something magical that brings me back to it. For that I can only thank the creators of each.

Without further ado, here are my favourite 50 albums from the decade. And remember, you can’t be wrong if they are your favourites.

Listen on Spotify

Nialler9’s albums of the decade (2000-2010)

  1. The KnifeSilent Shout (2006)
  2. Joanna Newsom Ys  (2006)
  3. Broken Social SceneBroken Social Scene (2005)
  4. Queens of the Stone AgeSongs for the Deaf (2002)
  5. Arcade FireFuneral  (2005)
  6. J DillaDonuts  (2006)
  7. BattlesMirrored (2007)
  8. Animal Collective –  Feels  (2005)
  9. RadioheadKid A  (2001)
  10. Why? Alopecia (2008)
  11. GorillazDemon Days  (2005)
  12. The StrokesIs this it?  (2001)
  13. MIA/DiploPiracy Funds Terrorism / Arular    (2004/2005)
  14. Four TetRounds (2003)
  15. Cannibal OxCold Vein (2001)
  16. Death in VegasScorpio Rising  (2003)
  17. LCD SoundsystemSound of Silver (2007)
  18. Panda BearPerson Pitch  (2007)
  19. The StreetsOriginal Pirate Material  (2002)
  20. Aphex TwinDrukqs  (2001)
  21. PlaidDouble Figure (2001)
  22. Godspeed You! Black EmperorLevez vos Skinny Fists (2000)
  23. Saul WilliamsSaul Williams (2004)
  24. MadvillainMadvillainy  (2004)
  25. Buck 65Talkin’ Honky Blues  (2003)
  26. SquarepusherGo Plastic (2001)
  27. Sufjan StevensSeven Swans  (2004)
  28. The AvalanchesSince I Left You  (2000)
  29. Super Furry AnimalsRings Around the World  (2002)
  30. BeirutThe Flying Club Cup  (2007)
  31. DJ ShadowThe Private Press  (2002)
  32. Girl TalkNight Ripper  (2006)
  33. Broken Social SceneYou Forgot it in People (2003)
  34. Grizzly Bear  – Veckatimest (2009)
  35. Bon Iver For Emma Forever Ago  (2008)
  36. CamilleLe Fil  (2006)
  37. Animal CollectiveMerriweather Post-Pavilion  (2009)
  38. El-PI’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (2007)
  39. Bloc PartySilent Alarm (2005)
  40. OutkastStankonia (2000)
  41. DangerdoomThe Mouse and the Mask (2005)
  42. The Beta BandHot Shots II (2001)
  43. Max TundraMastered by Guy at the Exchange (2002)
  44. MogwaiMr Beast (2006)
  45. Primal Scream XTRMNTR  (2000)
  46. Wolf ParadeApologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
  47. Jamie LidellMultiply  (2005)
  48. Dangermouse The Grey Album (2004)
  49. Flying LotusLos Angeles  (2008)
  50. Shugo TokumaruL.S.T. (2006)

Posted on February 25th, 2016

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The sequel to one of the best rap mixtapes in recent times does what many sequels do not. It improves the dynamic between the cast, it delivers smarter, more quotable lines, it takes aim at larger targets and it adds a whole lot of bang.

Run The Jewels 1 was the hardening of friendship between two very different but talented people, a cementing of the dynamic El-P and Killer Mike set off when the former produced the latter’s R.A.P. Music album.

RTJ2 is what happens when a producer-rapper/rapper hit a career high at the same damn time. Because this is El and Mike’s album, they own it.  Because even though there are vocal guests: RATM’s Zack De La Rocha, singer/producer Boots and Three 6 Mafia’s Gangsta Boo, they serve the version of a banging lean record, rather than overcrowd it. De La Rocha’s rap on ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)’ is reinvigorating to hear and Gangsta Boo’s filthy rap on ‘Love Again’ is necessary to offset the lusty filth delivered by the core pair but they stay down. Guests step into the background of the Run The Jewels shot rather than pawing the tracks with their own prints.

RTJ1 established the brag, RTJ2 expands those in the line of fire now with an enhanced wordplay we know these guys are “fucking brutal” and individually “Don Draper with the paper might pull a slick caper” and “A dirty boy who come down on a side of dissonance / I can’t even relax without sirens off in the distances”

That line is indicative of El-P’s production techniques as a whole, and on RTJ2, they have found a new ground that serve the songs well but are packed with their own detail without getting in the way. El-P’s productions have always carried a weight that few can match but here, he’s approaching expert-level.

Fuckboys, the judicial system, guilt and police brutality are the topics that give a wider scope to RTJ2. The El-P line “You can all run naked backwards through a field of dicks,” is already immortal and he sounds like he’s having more fun than ever with lyrics like “I wear sweatpants to funerals, guns to lunch” on ‘All Due Respect”.

It’s Killer Mike who delivers his career best work particularly on tracks with wider vision like ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck’) (“Conditions create a villain, the villain is giving vision / The vision becomes a vow to seek vengeance on all the vicious”), figuring out who’s in charge on ‘Lie, Cheat, Steal’ (“Like who really run this? / Like who really run that man that say he run this? / Like who who really run that man that say he run this?”) or ‘Early’ where he adds personal touches (“my beautiful son’) to a police arrest in front of his family or ‘Crown’ where he repents a time peddling drugs to poor single mothers and the consequential guilt “Heard he was normal ’til three and then he stopped talkin’  / Since then, ain’t nothin been the same.”

Even when simply grinning and having fun Mike is at the top; “I’m talking crazy, half past the clock is cuckoo / You rappers doodoo, baby shit, just basic boo boo,” he says on ‘Blockbuster Night Part 1’.

 Run The Jewels 2 is two buddies, operating at their creative peak. It’s more than another chapter, more than a sequel. It’s a sinewy distillation of more than a friendship, it’s a fruitful creative partnership that sounds like it’s been reinforced by steel foundations such is the wicked bulging energy contained within the album’s 40 minutes.

Listen on Spotify

https://soundcloud.com/adultswimsingles/oh-my-darling-dont-cry

Posted on November 3rd, 2014

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It’s a (pre) Christmas fucking miracle.

El-P and Killer Mike aka Run The Jewels couldn’t wait til Monday to release their album so it’s available for free right now.

An email arrived at 6am from the pair saying “we just couldn’t wait another damn day longer to share RTJ2 with you.” Which means it leaked early.

Download it here

Regardless, you’re probably going to want the physical / actual product. They play Dublin’s Opium Rooms on December 21st.

Listen below / Download

Posted on October 24th, 2014

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El-P and Killer Mike tease their hefty hip-hop followup album RTJ2 with ‘Oh My Darling Don’t Cry’, a bass-booming track which rather than utilising vinyl cutups and effects features the voice artist Michael Winslow doing it for them.

These guys are just the best at making pure rap tracks.

The track is a free download from the Adult Swim Singles collection. The Run The Jewels album is out on October 27th for FREE too through Mass Appeal. The are doing pre-orders for physical copies which look VG and there’s also bonus pre-orders like The We Are Gordon Ramsay package and one in which “Run The Jewels will fly to your town, stalk and ultimately take revenge upon anyone in your life who has ever wronged you through a series of humiliating and vicious tactics designed to bring shame upon their name and the name of their children. ”

Even better? They play Dublin on December 21st. Opium Rooms to be exact thanks to Hidden Agenda. Tickets are €15.

RTJ2 Tracklist

1. Jeopardy
2. Oh My Darling Don’t Cry
3. Blockbuster Night Part 1
4. Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) [feat. Zack de la Rocha]
5. All My Life
6. Lie, Cheat, Steal
7. Early (feat. BOOTS)
8. All Due Respect (feat. Travis Barker)
9. Love Again (Akinyele Back)
10. Crown (feat. Diane Coffee)
11. Angel Duster

Posted on September 15th, 2014

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After giving us a tantalising 100 second snippet, El-P and Killer Mike have dropped the full version of ‘Blockbuster Night Part 1’ from their second album RTJ2 as Run The Jewels.

It’s out at the end of October on Mass Appeal and will feature guests Zach De La Rocha and Travis Barker. ‘Blockbuster Night Part 1’ is basically amazing so that is good.

Posted on August 21st, 2014

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El-P and Killer Mike’s Run The Jewels‘ free album is probably the best pure rap album of the year so far. In the video by Timothy Saccenti, the star of previous El-P videos Mr. Killums gets kidnapped and the duo go vigilante on a cast that includes Andrew W.K., actress Amber Tamblyn, Despot and members of Das Racist. Twisted.

Listen to the album…→

Posted on July 16th, 2013

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mp3_killer_mike
Adult Swim Singles Club is back and over the next 15 weeks, they’ve got the following lined up for free never-before heard downloads:

Captain Murphy (Flying Lotus) with Viktor Vaughn (DOOM), Mykki Blanco, Madlib and Freddie Gibs, Dan Deacon, Autre Ne Veut, Mac DeMarco, Andy Stott, Miguel, Lil B, Lightning Bolt and more as listed, week by week below.

First up though, a track from EL-P and Killer Mike’s forthcoming Run The Jewels LP the 8-bit synth-based ’36” Chain’. YES. Listen to the track here and download it at AS.


Adult Swim Singles Club schedule →

Posted on June 11th, 2013

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runthejewels

You might have heard that snippet of ‘Banana Clipper’ a couple of weeks back from El-P and Killer Mike’s new project. The best new buds in the rap game are teaming up on Run The Jewels for a U.S. tour this summer and they are releasing a free album via Fool’s Gold before then. ‘Get It’ is the first full track from the Run The Jewels album.

(more…)

Posted on April 30th, 2013

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El-P

Eschewing the all-encompassing all-star cast of his second album I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Cancer For Cure focuses on what El-P’s always done best, rap like a muthafucker and make undeniable head-nodding boom-bap beat productions. The dystopian air is still there hanging around, shrouding the tracklisting in an industrial grey fog. Things are still not right and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But that doesn’t mean El is bringing the party down, he goes hard from the off with ‘Request Denied’ into ‘The Full Retard’ which is based on the Camu Tao vocal sample “You should pump this shit like they do in the future”, while ‘Drones Over BKLYN’ takes those beats to the next level. Camu, was a close friend and his death in 2008 led to the album’s existence (“the album process started out with a tragedy, and I ended up with a record about wanting to live.” )
Read review and watch the gangsta squirrel new video…→

Posted on May 31st, 2012

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