El-P
Fantastic Damage


5.0
classic

Review

by Sobhi Youssef EMERITUS
January 12th, 2009 | 319 replies | 26,500 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sign to Rawkus? I’d rather be mouth-fucked by Nazis unconscious.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked founding fathers of 21st century progressive hip-hop, Jaime Meline’s Fantastic Damage is the follow-up to the revered Company Flow classic, Funcrusher Plus. Most notably, the 2002 release acts as a bridge between his hard working, NYC underground roots and his evolution into a successful producer and entrepreneur/owner/CEO of label Definitive Jux. While the chemistry of CoFlow is missed (while label Rawkus is not), El-P’s solo debut is at least as important - a 70-minute exploration in socio-political paranoia.

Critical and fearful of pre-defined notions of reality and Orwellian trappings, respectively, FanDam renders itself an intellectual and spiritual sibling to a Philip K. Dick novel. While reminiscent of these drug-induced, dystopian perspectives, Meline brings his own critique of modern pop-culture and urban experiences to the fore. The corruption of children through television, Vietnam era Da Nang, a drunkard stepfather, and nearly the entirety of the album pervades these sci-fi-come-streets definitive juxtapositions.

A surface value extrusion of aggressive spoken word, El-P’s decidedly unique style is off-putting to some; but this disjointed effort is the essence of ever-present paranoia throughout. Technically skilled, with a penchant for seemingly verbose syntax, he lays down every track hard through heavy use of poetic devices – “ Figure they ate the kids, homey - so fuck em save the adults // Kids are patriotic, robotic, operate catapults / and goose-step over innocence / vagrant of reaganomics phasing / read the books that will burn at the barn raising.” Although abstract, Meline is a genuine poet; fans of Aesop Rock should adore this style (coincidentally, Aesop also delivers an impressive verse on “Delorean”, as do more Jukie label-mates on other respective tracks).

Regardless of content, style, ability, or poetic skill, the true focal point here lies heavily within the distorted, electronic-soaked beats. Known for sampling anything between industrial, funk, and random percussive sounds, El-P proves his worth with a masterclass in hip-hop composition; every chorus is perfectly placed, and every shred of noise acts to enhance the chilling damage fantastically done. DJ Abilities, now a household name in underground turntablism, deftly mans the decks and magnifies the desolate air about any track he performs on. If the high-level metaphysical musings aren’t convincing enough, the supporting cast (whirring bleeps and synths, syncopated kick and snare, funk-driven bass-lines abounds) drives home the point; The Product is here to innovate the genre.

Coupled with Dan “The Automator” Nakamura’s involvement with Deltron 3030, El-P’s solo debut holds its own. Setting the precedent for 2007’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, Fantastic Damage is a dark and dense epic of much alternative hip-hop merit, an absolute necessity for any collection.



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user ratings (252)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
robin
Emeritus
January 12th 2009



4247 Comments


good review, im gonna go listen to more hip hop now

MassiveAttack
January 12th 2009



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think this album is a bit inconsistent at point, but the tracks that do work they're excellent!

DFelon204409
Emeritus
January 12th 2009



3995 Comments


Ya I'm not feeling the rating this high, but it's certainly a good album. I'd say I even prefer The Shape of Broad Minds to this though.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
January 12th 2009



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

figured i'd do one of my favorite albums for my 10th.

if you absolutely need a single song recommendation, check out "Deep Space 9mm".

edit: wow that was an immediate response if ever. this is an important album to me, as it really got me into hip-hop. i understand others not digging it as much, but then again, all of you have your quirky 5/5 albums also.This Message Edited On 01.12.09

DFelon204409
Emeritus
January 12th 2009



3995 Comments


Oh ya I think the difference for most people between a 4.5 and a 5 is that extra tilt from pure subjectivity. It's sort of ludicrous to
claim that an album is perfect or error free, so it's more a matter of assembling the most positive objective observations possible
and then succumbing to your subjective love and being like DAMNNNNNN.This Message Edited On 01.12.09

MassiveAttack
January 12th 2009



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

How are my 5/5 quirky lol damn you!

I totally agree on the focus of the album though. Which is why I don't like it as much as you.

MassiveAttack
January 12th 2009



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ugh double post my fav tracks: Squeegee Man, Deep Space 9mm, Stepfather Factory.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
January 12th 2009



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

All awesome of course. The only track that kind of annoys me at times is Dead Disnee.
Yeah, opinions are opinions, i'm sure plenty of people think El-P sucks (ie one of my best friends that thinks he's absolutely the worst thing ever). Hopefully I assembled all my best "positive objective observations" ;-)

MassiveAttack
January 12th 2009



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

my brother calls it backpack rap like its alternative hip-hop...I was like please dude (I had Atmosphere / Aesop Rock / El-P playing on my usb...only had #-F artists from library).

illmitch
January 12th 2009



5429 Comments


eh i dunno id call atmosphere and aesop rock backpack rap for sure. I havent given El-P enough of a listen, but Ill check him out.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
January 12th 2009



16083 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fagpack rap more like

gaslightanthem
January 12th 2009



5209 Comments


iluvatar is trying to bring the funnies

foreverendeared
January 12th 2009



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

sweet review. this is the only album i have from El-P

joshuatree
Emeritus
January 12th 2009



3743 Comments


excellent review, album's not really a 5 for me. it's good though.

bastard
January 12th 2009



3435 Comments


pretty good album.

great review

NortherlyNanook
January 12th 2009



1285 Comments


I haven't heard this, but I really like I'll Sleep When Your Dead. I might check this out.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
January 12th 2009



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

ISWYD is amazing as well... i used to have that as a 5/5 also, but this one stuck with me more.

iarescientists
January 12th 2009



5863 Comments


i tried listening to el-p once but my blood boiled until it evaporated and i was left in the sun to dry

kingsoby1
Emeritus
January 12th 2009



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

racist

iarescientists
January 12th 2009



5863 Comments


like a raisin in the sun



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