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El-P 

I'll Sleep When You're Dead (Definitive Jux)

A surefire way to beat the sophomore jinx includes making a good debut album with a fatal flaw, then correcting that flaw the second time around. El-P's first album was lo-fi dystopian rap brilliance — but it was a lot of brilliance to handle, with multiple five-minute concept jams about time- travel and step-parents. I'll Sleep When You're Dead contains shorter and tighter songs — and is therefore better. Tracks like "Up All Night" and "EMG" are almost catchy, while the anti-war screed "Dear Sirs" is huge. El-P even raps about conformity with Trent Reznor on the hook ("Flyentology") and makes that sound good — ensuring that he's still the least corny "abstract" rapper on the planet.

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More by Andrew Friedman

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