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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
El-P
High Water
Thirsty Ear Records

Rating: 9/10 ?


October 1, 2004
I took a name too, and so it begun
And wrote raps in my room, sipping Capri suns
In fact, studied the cadences of Kool Moe Dee and Rick
Put my name into there rhymes and then practiced it
Put my brain pattern on fly and I mastered it
Dad played jazz when he drank, it's no accident
Hands on the piano and make my foot tap to it
Different path, same love, Dad, thanks for passing it


- El-P: "Squeegee Man Shooting" from Fantastic Damage.

El-P knows everything about hip-hop. In fact, he remains one of the most successful emcee/producer/record label executives in the business today. His near flawless solo album, Fantastic Damage, introduced many hip-hop listeners to his avant-garde stance and won him prestige in an extremely difficult realm of today's uninspiring music. It did help that his feud with Rawkus Records and the demise of Company Flow elevated his status to iconic echelon, leaving El-P in a state of complete domination in underground hip-hop. But one thing is for certain, El-P knows what hip-hop is and where it originated from; making him a certifiable genius in his personal discipline.

So with that said, El-P newest adventure isn't a complete surprise. Teaming up with the best of today's jazz troubadours, El-P has finally shelved his futuristic bombastic stance (maybe?) to pay homage to the sound that not only created hip-hop, but also made it the success it is today. No other musical genre has had such a positive impact on a musical style in the past. Even though funk music elevated hip-hop to stardom, jazz laid the fundamental roots down and mapped an exemplary path that hip-hop had to take to survive. Although bands in the early 80s, like Stetsasonic, attempted to properly show gratitude to the forefathers of its musical direction, jazz only became a significant influence in the late 80s and early 90s with bands like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Pete Rock and CL Smooth. But ever since then, jazz has always been an essential part of hip-hop culture with underground producers like Madlib and MF Doom. And it will remain for many years to come.

When it comes to contemporary jazz, many of the individuals on El-P's High Water fall between musical genius and intellectual brilliance. William Parker, Matthew Shipp, and Guillermo E. Brown are only a few personnel playing on El-P's jazz collaboration, jointly creating a 'forest of sounds and ideas' and bridging the minute gap between today's jazz and hip-hop culture. With El-P on the production, the project seems destined to incredible success. And for the most part, High Water - originally titled High Water (Mark) - does hit the mark, showcasing an immense amount of musical density and intensity.

The real issue at hand is how will the El-P fans accept this project. It certainly far from the work he has released in the last 5 years. Or is it? Can jazz music be as apocalyptic and catastrophic as El-P's musical hip-hop mission? The answer comes rather quickly with the second track of the album "Sunshine Over Bklyn," a luscious soundscape of noise and clatter, mixed and blended to create a near-opus to today's ever-confused state of mind, body, and soul. "Bklyn" stretches over 10 minutes, revisiting the strength of long-play chaos that bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor made so successful in recent years. The nervous trumpet and trombone, pounding piano, hammering drums, and thumping bass are intertwined to create a mesmerizing soundtrack of fear, excitement, and anxiety. Much like El-P's previous work, High Water continues to attack the mind and heart ferociously from beginning to end, leaving a lasting impression. That is the success behind El-P's music, whether it is jazz or hip-hop; gripping the listener and never truly letting go, even after the conclusion of the album. That is genius.

Reviewed by Kevin Crepeault


See other reviews by Kevin Crepeault

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