Whether people know it or not, 2002 will most likely be remembered as the year the underground hip-hop revolution officially began. Players from all across the nation (New York's Anti-Pop Consortium and Jean Grae, L.A.'s People Under The Stairs, Newark's Dälek, Minneapolis's Atmosphere) have already launched their sneak attacks with subversive, remarkable albums that show you don't need to have a Ja Rule cameo to appease rap fans.
Perhaps the leader of this charge is El-P, the pale-faced MC/producer (and former Company Flow front man) who runs the indie-rap label Definitive Jux. Although his label has been around for two years, with albums by fellow on-the-fringe rappers Cannibal Ox and Aesop Rock already on shelves, people only began to notice the storm a-brewin' when the New Yorker released his own volatile, energetic Fantastic Damage earlier this year. A balls-to-the-wall slab of hip-hop vitriol, it was only a matter of time before even Rolling Stone got their asses on board with the man and his plan. Since then, Definitive Jux has been on a buzz-heavy ride. (Entertainment Weekly recently called Def Jux "the most galvanizing new hip-hop label since Def Jam" -- slow your roll, kids!)
"Definitive Jux Presents The Revenge of the Robots"
Engine Room, 1515 Pease
Featuring El-P, Mr. Lif, RJD2, DJ Fakts One, Cage and Copywrite. Saturday, October 12; 713-629-3700.
Talented as he is, El-P isn't even the best MC on his label. That title goes Boston hip-hopper Mr. Lif, who proves himself quite nicely on his recently released full-length debut, I, Phantom, a hip-hop concept album (trust me, it's not as pretentious as it sounds) that jolts you in all the right places.
Now, as El-P and the rest of his Def Jux crew, including cut-creator RJD2 and the aforementioned Mr. Lif, hit the road, it's expected a lot more fans will dig themselves out from under their pile of XXL back issues and Beastie Boys bootlegs and show support for the cause. The revolution is coming -- and if you're scared, then you should be.