The year has already seen El-P play a significant role on two critically acclaimed releases. After teaming up with Killer Mike, the two released R.A.P. Music. However, he also released his own album, Cancer 4 Cure. Both projects have been well received by critics. Recently, El spoke with The Chicago Tribune about the Killer Mike pairing, the end of Def Jux and explained the changes in the industry.
“I needed to focus on music,” Producto said about the closing of Definitive Jux. “That was essentially it. Running the label was taking too much of my time, and ultimately detracting from my life as opposed to giving to it. It yielded some amazing records. But I believe just like with Company Flow, there is a right way to go out. You’ve got to recognize it when it’s time to go.”
He also added that “we are headed” towards major changes in the way record labels are run.
“You’re gonna get music for free. Artists still need labels. But what a label is will change. It’s not as much about selling music at retail. That is just disappearing. There are no comebacks. Vinyl is a small niche market. Physical goods will be dead in the next few years. Labels are curators of taste, and the best ones know how to monetize what an artist is trying to do. The future is wide open for me. I don’t sweat it,” he added.
Fans of his collaborative effort with Killer Mike may be surprised that El-P originally put the project off, thinking it would negatively affect his time constraints.
“I kept putting Mike off, thinking I couldn’t do it, but it turned out great – working on the Killer Mike record came at the correct time to step away from my (album) for a second,” he explained. “There was an energy I carried over into completing my record. My record would not be the same without that experience of working with Mike.
According to El, Killer Mike did not use a pen and pad on this one, electing to freestyle the project line by line.
“Mike and I knew the type of record we wanted to make — not a sound, more a feeling. We wanted to make a record that made us feel the same way records in our childhood made us feel when we became rap fans. That understanding led to everything else happening naturally. There was no real plan, just get in there and make stuff that gave us that silly grin. We were like teenagers sitting in the same room making beats and rhymes. Every time he would get to the mike, he didn’t write anything down — maybe one line or two — because he was so amped about the music. He would freestyle and go line by line. I thought I’d have to constantly record this guy, but it would just flow out of him and I’d watch him connect the dots. He told me later that he always writes stuff down, so it gave me a great feeling to know he was responding to the music in that way.”