Drones Over Santos: El-P hits up NYC for record release show

May 2012 is a big month for El-P. On the 14th, he celebrated the tenth anniversary of his landmark solo debut “Fantastic Damage” on his very own Definitive Jux label. The next day saw the release of Killer Mike’s “R.A.P. Music,” for which he produced every song. Today, one week later, he drops “Cancer For Cure,” his third album on Fat Possum records. A lot has changed from “Fantastic Damage” to “C4C,” but one thing is certain: El Producto remains a relentless, driving force in underground hip-hop.

Last night, before a tightly-packed Santos Party House in downtown Manhattan, El-P showcased his new work in its entirety, front to back. The capacity crowd seemed to be pretty familiar with the material, despite the fact the album had yet to come out, mostly due to the leak of the album a couple of weeks prior. Unfazed by this leakage, El powered through each of the albums tracks with the assistance of his hype man, a keyboardist and a guitarist/percussionist.

Opening with the rave-like “Request Denied” and blazing the stage with bangers “The Full Retard” and “Drones Over Bklyn,” El-P worked the crowd into a frenzy with relative ease. He was joined by many guests including show opener/Def Jux refugee Despot and new best bud Killer Mike on “Tougher Colder Killer,” Das Racist’s Himanshu on “True Story,” Nick Diamonds of Islands on “Stay Down,” and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire on “Oh Hail No.” The one bummer of the night was Danny Brown was apparently not able to make it out for his verse. However, Action Bronson did appear on stage at one point. He didn’t get on the mic, but he did smoke two gigantic joints on the side of the stage which was a spectacle in and of itself.

After closing out the set with the emotional “$4 Vic/FTL (Me and You),” El left the stage with his band, but returned quickly to perform “EMG” and “No Kings” from his last album, 2007’s “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead.” Next, El brought out his cohort Mr. Len from the recently reunited Company Flow to perform “Vital Nerve” off the group’s seminal “Funcrusher Plus” LP. Killer Mike rejoined El to do an a cappella version of their duet “Butane (Champion’s Anthem)” as well as “Untitled” from “R.A.P. Music.” To close out the show, El-P thanked the crowd for all their support over the years and performed the classic “Deep Space 9mm” from “Fantastic Damage,” bringing everything full circle.

While El-P is certainly no stranger to positive feedback from fans and critics alike, it’s good to see the man be recognized for what he is: a super-talented, uncompromising rapper/producer. Killer Mike seemed to be genuinely thrilled for him, echoing his fans’ sentiments by stating “Finally… everybody is on your dick.”