This time around on “Rhythm Roulette,” we linked up with the one and only, El-P. The Def Jux general blessed us with the opportunity to gain some insight on the process, which has helped him make classic material since 1993. After heading to a hole-in-the-wall record shop and picking out some dusty old warped records, El-P showed us how to make something out of nothing/s, starting with his rusty, self-fixed, ASR-10.
Who Is EL-P?
Jaime Meline (born March 2, 1975), better known by his stage name El-P (originally El Producto), is an American hip hop recording artist, record producer, rapper, and entrepreneur from Brooklyn, New York City. Originally a member of Company Flow, El-P has been a major driving force in alternative hip hop for over a decade, producing for several notable underground rappers. He is the co-founder, owner and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Definitive Jux record label. El-P is also a member of The Weathermen and art collective Cardboard City. In 2013, he formed the hip-hop duo Run the Jewels, with frequent collaborator Killer Mike.
The son of jazz pianist Harry Keyes(born Harry Meline), El-P became involved with the hip hop culture of New York City at an early age. After being expelled from several schools for problems with authority, Meline decided to pursue a career in music. At his 18th birthday party, he met Mr. Len, whom he had hired as a DJ for the night. The two quickly became friends and formed Company Flow in 1993. They released their first vinyl single, “Juvenile Techniques”, in 1993. Bigg Jus later complemented the group and in 1996 the trio released its debut EP, Funcrusher. Subject to a major-label bidding war after the success of the EP, Company Flow waited until it could get a contract on its own terms. The group eventually signed with Rawkus Records, and released its debut full-length album, Funcrusher Plus (1997).
After an instrumental album titled Little Johnny From the Hospitul: Breaks & Instrumentals Vol.1 (1999), also on Rawkus, disagreements between El-P and the label led to Company Flow leaving Rawkus. El-P then decided to start his own record label, Definitive Jux (known informally as Def Jux, and extra-formally as Definitive Juxtapositions), and because of critically acclaimed albums such as Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein (produced by El-P) and Aesop Rock’s Labor Days, the label quickly rose to prominence.
Company Flow dissolved amicably in 2001 and the following year El-P released his debut solo album Fantastic Damage, to wide critical acclaim. In 2004, El-P collaborated with the Blue Series Continuum for a jazz-fusion album titled High Water, which received favorable reviews from both the hip hop and jazz worlds, as well as from more mainstream critics independent of both scenes. 2005 saw the release of Collecting the Kid, an odds-and-ends assortment including work from High Water and Bomb the System, in addition to several songs of unknown provenance. El-P’s second proper studio album, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, was released on March 20, 2007. It generally received very favorable reviews and became El-P’s most commercially successful album to date, peaking at No. 78 on the U.S. Billboard 200.
In October 2009, El-P announced that he was working on his third studio album, tentatively titled Cancer for Cure. El-P also was a part of a group called Central Services, which consisted of El-P, Camu Tao, and Allysin Baker. In the fall of 2010, the EP Forever Frozen in Television Time, was released exclusively on the Def Jux digital download service. In August 2011, it was announced that El-P signed with Fat Possum Records, which would release Cancer 4 Cure. Later that month, El-P released a single off the upcoming album, via the Adult Swim Singles program. The track is titled “Drones Over BKLYN.” On February 22, 2012 El-P announced on his Facebook page that Cancer 4 Cure was officially complete. The album was later released to music retailers on May 22. Days prior to the release of El-P’s third album, Killer Mike’s sixth album R.A.P. Music, was released. The album was produced entirely by El-P and is his and Killer Mike’s first body of work together.
El-P has contributed productions and guest rhymes to albums by Aesop Rock, Evil Nine, DJ Krush, Murs, Cage, Mr. Lif, Prefuse 73, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Mike Ladd, The High and Mighty, Jedi Mind Tricks, Aceyalone, Atmosphere, Techno Animal, and Das Racist. He collaborated with Alec Empire on the first Handsome Boy Modeling School album and with Cage and Chino Moreno on the second. He was selected, along with DJ Shadow, to work on Rage Against the Machine frontman Zach de la Rocha’s solo album (which never materialized). He has provided remixes for the likes of Beans (rapper) (of Anti-Pop Consortium), Beck, Blackalicious, Head Automatica, Hot Hot Heat, Dizzee Rascal, Syd Matters, Nine Inch Nails, Push Button Objects, Rob Sonic, TV on the Radio, and Yasushilde, among others. El-P also provided the soundtrack for the graffiti film Bomb the System.