In his decade and a half making music, El-P can lay claim to a long litany of achievements. The dirty dusted minimalism and abstract invective of Company Flow’s “Funcrusher Plus” essentially served as the blueprint for late '90s “underground rap.”
His Definitive Jux imprint ranked among the next decade’s most influential, releasing everything from anti-capitalist polemics to gonzo comedy rap records to soulful sampledelica. He made an excellent jazz-fusion record for the Blue Series Continuum series. And both of his official solo albums are certifiable classics.
But his most impressive achievement may have come last month, when a Twitter in-joke with XLR8R magazine forced him to try his hand at remixing Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” Splicing in a sample of Paul McCartney and Wings' “Live and Let Die,” and tarring and feathering Bieber’s teen pop with heavy dubstep rhythms, El-P set it loose onto the Internet.
Creating an aesthetic far closer to decaying industrial rot than Disney Radio, he induced the best response imaginable: He forced his legion of hard-core fans to admit liking the Bieb.
Wednesday night marks another milestone in El-P’s career: his first performance at the Low End Theory. While he’s too self-effacing to admit it, the Brooklyn-based producer has had a salient influence on the Los Angeles beat scene and bass music writ large. Though grimy beats unadorned by rhymes have only entered vogue in the last couple years, El-P has been releasing instrumental albums on the low since 1999’s “Little Johnny From the Hospital.”
His most recent is “Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3,” the first officially released volume of a series that had previously only been sold on tour. They're a mixture of his outside production work and sundry unused instrumentals, and El-P has sutured them into a series of short suites that range from apocalyptic nail-bomb beats to Zapp samples rendered mutant and hostile. It’s a stopgap release intended to hold fans over until his next full-length rap record (expected next year), but it also reflects a further refinement of his trademark style.