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I'll Sleep When You're Dead

34 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 20, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

I'll Sleep When You're Dead a magnum opus 4 years in the making - represents a culmination of profound musical, personal, and political experiences reaching their tumultuous climax and embodies everything that is El-P a groundbreaking artist, virtuosic producer, profound lyricist, label founder, A&R maverick and underground icon reacting to the malignant societal changes occurring today. This record is an urgent document, a collective representation of a critical individual crossing their personal Rubicon, assessing the dismal reality inherent, and deciding to forge on despite the cost. With appearances by Trent Reznor, The Mars Volta, Cat Power, Aesop Rock, Cage, Matt Sweeney, Tame One and others, this is an album poised to extend a genre into a new realm of artistic expression.

When a hip-hop album opens with a collaboration with modern-day prog-rockers the Mars Volta, you know to expect the unexpected. That's pretty much what Brooklyn's El-P (born Jaime Meline) has been delivering since day one, first as a member of now-defunct indie-rap heroes Company Flow and later as founder of the maverick New York label Definitive Jux. Trent Reznor and Cat Power also show up on his first new release in five years, but El-P remains the one to watch, rattling off his typically complex rhymes about the state of the world (and the bedroom) over the cling-clang of industrial beats and frenzied noise. It's dense and weird and sometimes even scary, all of which makes it a marked improvement over the usual Saturday night boom-bap. --Aidin Vaziri

1. Tasmanian Pain Coaster featuring The Mars Volta
2. Smithereens (Stop Cryin)
3. Up All Night
4. EMG
5. Drive
6. Dear Sirs
7. Run the Numbers featuring Aesop Rock
8. Habeas Corpses (Draconian Love) featuring Cage
9. The Overly Dramatic Truth
10. Flyentology featuring Trent Reznor
11. No Kings
12. League of Extraordinary Nobodies
13. Poisenville Kids No Wins/Reprise (This Must Be Our Time) featuring Cat Power

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 20, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Definitive Jux
  • ASIN: B000MM0KXS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,723 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By billy on March 21, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I keep reading that El-P has eased up on the carpet bombing production techniques and started using melody. That he has slowed down his flow and let his tracks breathe a little more on his new album. Now that I finally got my grubby little hands on El's new album I'll Sleep When Your Dead, I've found that there is more melody, he has slowed down his flow, and his tracks do breathe a little more (I stress a little more).

So all these things should make for a more accessible listening experience right? Well it's not. ISWYD is arguably less accessible than his 2002 debut Fantastic Damage. When you listen to Fantastic Damage for the first time, it's possible to be completely overwhelmed by the virtuoso complexity of the whole thing. The beats are abrasive and noisy, and the lyrics are almost indecipherable without a written copy in front of you. But on Fantastic Damage, the beats, though abrasive and noisy, are very immediate. You can nod your head along with most of the songs. On ISWYD, the beats are generally more noisy and chaotic. It's hard to really pick something out that's at all catchy, at least on the first listen.

This is one of those albums that you have to let marinate. After a few listens you start to hear the hook on Run the Numbers, and you start to realize that the drum line on EMG is pretty great. On first listen, the opener Tasmanian Pain Coaster is a frustrating experience. There is really nothing approaching conventional hip hop on the close to 7 minute track. But then you bust out the lyric sheet and read along with the song. You realize what the songs about, and then you begin to hear all the layers of production. ISWYD is one of those onion albums, the more you listen to it the more layers you peel off.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Patrick G. Varine on April 4, 2007
Format: Audio CD
At first, "Sleep When..." sounds like El-P's furthest departure yet from the independent hip-hop he championed and pioneered with Company Flow.

Tracks with the Mars Volta? Cat Power? Trent REZNOR?!

But then the beat drops on 'Tasmanian Pain Coaster,' and you realize it's just El peeling the next corroded layer off the post-apocalyptic production style of which he is the true master.

To be sure, there are a few moments of what you might call Def-Jux-By-Numbers here and there, but most of the time, 'Sleep When...' hits like a 50-megaton bomb... and sounds like one, too.

Where his steez on Cannibal Ox's 'Cold Vein' was a futuristic grime rooted firmly in the street, this new disc is almost the opposite: street grime beamed aboard an alien battlecruiser, firing blasts at a burnt-out New York City. But instead of sounding all sci-fi-paranoid, as he did on 'Fantastic Damage,' 'Sleep When...' finds El hitting several different modes, from the Bush-bashing 'Dear Sirs,' performed in a free-poem, 7-beat measure to an out-and-out love story (on a spaceship, natch) in 'Habeas Corpses.'

The opener ('Tasmanian...') embodies everything that's great about this album: dense layers of rusty noise flying off in all directions, grounded by a beat that wouldn't sound out of place on an early Run DMC record, punctuated by El's conscious streaming. To be sure, his flow is an acquired taste, but heads who say it's garbage or that it doesn't rhyme...? Stick with Lil' Jon, then...

'Up All Night' is the best beat of 2007 so far, in my book, 'Drive' is a dark ride in a dirty jalopy, and 'EMG' is some evil-nasty-funk with some of the best wordplay on the album.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Noah King on March 17, 2007
Format: Audio CD
El-P has done it again. He has invented a world of sound that transports you to a place in his mind; a vision of the decaying city. The cacophonous sound, mechanical samples, and grimy beats combine to create a dark symphony. His signature layered production, including building harmonic background chords, head-nodding break beats, and phaser beam samples will leave you twitching.

If you love radio rap, you may not dig this album. But if you know and love El-P, are interested in raw, independent, ground-breaking hip-hop, than this album will grow on you with each listen.

The opening track is priceless. It builds to several levels, delivering more musical loveliness in seven minutes than most artists deliver in their entire careers. The first section sets the tone for the rest of the album; the second section gets you to sing along the chanted chorus, "This is the sound of what you don't know killing you." The final section softens somewhat and resolves with a hot little guitar hook with matching hi-pitch vocals.

Check out track 5 (Drive). Its got a sickeningly catchy hook that reminds me of the Cannibal Ox song "Painkillers."

Flyentology is hot too. The sound paints a scene out of a futuristic assembly line in some crazy mind factory. Trent Reznor is featured doing background vocals. Also featured on the album are Aesop Rock and Cage.

If you like Def Jux, Cannibal Ox's Cold Vein, El-P's Fantastic Damage, or Aesop Rock's Bazooka Tooth, than this album will blow you away. If you don't know those albums, buy them up, they're hot!!!
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