Continuing this week’s Top 50 Hip Hop Albums of the ’00s at Passion of the Weiss, the #37 album on the list is El-P’s Fantastic Damage, an album I was asked to wax poetic about.
Listening to FanDam recently, it amazed me how much of an influence El-P has unconciously had on my career as a MC, producer, and indie rap label head. You could argue that he’s the most influential scion to the now-jumbled world of independent hip hop–without Company Flow’s Funcrusher moving 30K units in the mid 90’s, there is no Rawkus Records, which means no Mos, no Kweli, and most importantly, no Shabaam Saadeeq (I keed!).
Fantastic Damage is aptly named because seven years after I’ve noted every horrifying lyric of “Dr Hellno and The Praying Mantis” and every cosmic turnbuckle cut from DJ Abilities on “Accidents Don’t Happen”, I still feel uneasy and challenged when dissecting “Stepfather Factory”, overwhelmed with articulate gully rap on “Dead Disness”, amped up like Jimi’s Marshall speakers when El-P’s verse kicks in on “Delorean”.
When this album dropped in 2002, I was going into my junior year of college at Temple University. White college rappers at that point followed two lanes: El-Producto and Def Jux or Vinnie Paz and Jedi Mind Tricks. I chose the former (though JMT’s Violent By Design is still outstanding) and I continue to be awed and pushed almost to the brink of sci-fi rap insanity whenever I listen to El-P, albeit for the first time or the one hundred first time.