To say El-P‘s new album, Cancer 4 Cure is dope, is a gross understatement. The veteran underground rapper/producer is back with a serious vengeance that has old fans and new throwin’ down hard. Teaming up with the incomparable Killer Mike, (El-P produced Mike’s newest album R.A.P. Music in full) the barrage of new bangers in the past couple months has been hard on necks and iPods everywhere. Luckily, the two hopped on a tour bus with Mr MFN eXquire and Despot, and came to Toronto for a one-night sweatfest at The Hoxton on Monday night.
The show started unexpectedly (re: disappointingly) early, which meant most people missed eXquire and Despot’s opening performances and the crowd was still pretty dry even when Mike took the stage. But being the commander-in-chief that he is, Mike quickly agitated the venue into a frenzy, callin out the Grind Time Rap Gang mantra again and again, to a sea of thundering “BANG BANG BANG!” replies from the crowd. By the 3rd song, the crowd was ready to go, hands in the air, and by the 4th song, we were in full-on mosh-pit mode. As usual I couldn’t resist and hopped out from the side-stage to jump, shove and be stomped on lovingly, like any self-respecting agit-rapper. Mike Bigga even ended the set in the crowd and we all moshed in the pit together. So classy.
Like all good foreplay, Mike’s set would’ve been dope on it’s own, but when El-P took the stage, a whole next level of stupidity ensued. Joined on stage by the full Into The Wild Tour cast, Trackstar the DJ, two keyboardists, and an (effin phenomenal) guitarist, El-P performed Cancer 4 Cure bangers one after the other. As usual for Toronto (which is why everyone loves performing here) the crowd was a colorful mish-mash. Old-school Company Flow fans, new recruits, hipsters, and hip hop die-hards, sang, rapped and moshed along till the end and then chanted feverishly for more. El-P’s encore (which lasted a generous 30 minutes) consisted of throwback jams and cult-classics that had everyone goin bananas.
For us producers and rappers that tagged along for the night, the show was different than most… inspiring even. Incredibly talented, El-P’s success has been a slow-grind, but he has acheived the kind of triumphant career that you hope to have – years of underground success, culminating in two incredibly current, boundary-pushing albums in the same year (Cancer 4 Cure & R.A.P. Music), and a tour whose energy and authenticity puts most major artists to shame.