El-P in February 2007
March 2, 1975 |
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Jaime Meline (born March 2, 1975), better known by his stage name El-P (shortened from El Producto), is an American rapper, record producer, and record executive. Originally a member of Company Flow, El-P has been a major driving force in alternative hip hop for more than two decades, producing for several notable rappers such as Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, and Cage, among others.
El-P is the co-founder, owner, and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Definitive Jux record label. He is also a member of The Weathermen and art collective Cardboard City. In 2013, he and frequent collaborator Killer Mike formed the hip-hop duo Run the Jewels, with whom he has released three studio albums: Run the Jewels (2013), Run the Jewels 2 (2014), and Run the Jewels 3 (2016).
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Getting involved with the hip hop culture of New York City at an early age, El-P decided to pursue a career in music after being expelled from several schools for problems with authority. 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 joined 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 as a solo artist to date, peaking at No. 78 on the U.S. Billboard 200. In an interview about I'll Sleep When You're Dead, he identifies himself as an atheist.
In October 2009, El-P announced that he was working on his third studio album, 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, 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.
Run the Jewels, a current collaboration of El-P with Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike, was formed in 2013. The two rappers were introduced by Adult Swim executive Jason DeMarco in 2011. The meeting led to several collaborations, including Killer Mike being featured on the song "Tougher Colder Killer" from Cancer 4 Cure while El-P produced the entirety of Killer Mike's sixth album R.A.P. Music. When R.A.P. Music and Cancer 4 Cure were released within weeks of each other, a joint tour was planned. The success of the tour eventually led to the formation of Run the Jewels.
Run the Jewels released a free album of the same name on June 26, 2013. The next year, on October 28, 2014, Run the Jewels released their second free album Run the Jewels 2. The third album, Run the Jewels 3, was released on December 24, 2016, three weeks prior to previously announced January 2017 release date.
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 Zack de la Rocha's solo album (which never materialized). He has provided remixes for the likes of Beans (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.
As a rapper, El-P's style can be characterized by his dense, aggressive, and verbose attacks, which include notable use of metaphor, science fiction and fantasy themes and references, and associative word play. Critic Steve Huey describes him as "one of the most technically gifted MCs of his time, spitting out near-impossible phrases and rhythmic variations that simply leave the listener's head spinning".
El-P is a fan of science fiction, including writer Philip K. Dick, and many of Dick's themes, such as paranoia and questions about the nature of reality, feature in El-P's work. References to George Orwell, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek spin-off Deep Space 9 sit comfortably alongside more traditional rap references, such as LL Cool J and Boogie Down Productions.
As a producer, Meline is notable for his innovative mix of bleak futurism and low-fidelity sounds. His dense, claustrophobic sounds are strongly influenced by Public Enemy's production team, The Bomb Squad, as well as other electronic artists like Art of Noise and Nine Inch Nails.
2004's High Water was a radical departure, pitting El-P's beats and production against a jazz band under the direction of pianist Matthew Shipp, a fan of El-P's music. In an interview with Shipp, Meline stated:
|"||First and foremost, I wanted to do it because it scared the shit out of me ... And when I get offered the chance to be involved with something that scares me, I usually do it, because I'm trying to learn, I'm trying to understand music as much as I can, to become a better musician in general and work in different capacities.||"|