Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, June 24

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Concert Mon May 07 2007

American Gods Must Be Crazy

Sure, the world can be a pretty twisted and horrific place sometimes. No joke. And it's for that reason alone that hip-hop renaissance man El-P isn't likely to ever drop a straight-up party jam. Case in point: On his current tour, he’s been taking it to the stage dressed as a Guantanamo Bay detainee — bedecked in orange prison garb and his face smeared with stage blood. The get-up is a theatrical holdover from his latest video shoot, and fairly typical of what some would expect from the man. Expected, I say, because for El-Producto, hip-hop is as much about catharsis as artifice; as much a platform for cultural commentary and dissent as for merely waxing bragadocious. He long ago demonstrated that he could serve the most lethal of battle rhymes, but the battle he’s interested in bringing these days is specifically aimed at certain (ahem) higher powers than at rival emcees.

This past March brought the release of his much-anticipated sophomore solo album, I'll Sleep When You're Dead; an effort that the artist has described as a magnum opus. Admittedly, his prior full-length, 2002's Fantastic Damage, was a bit of a taxing listen. Suffocatingly dense with industrial-grade production and a relentless onslaught of rapid-fire, bellicose rhymes; it was the aural equiv of being strapped to the belly of a B-52 for the duration of a low-altitude bombing raid. The new album finds him easing back a bit, offering a journey that’s more varied in tempo and a little less corrosive in tone. The tracks feature a more polished, fine-tuned sound than previous material; and on the whole it unfolds with a narrative sweep that’s almost cinematic in both feel and breadth. Admittedly, the trademark anger and dismay are still ever-present. “Why should I be sober when God is so clearly dusted out his mind," he muses at one point, "With cherubs puffin’ bundles/Trying to remember why He even tried?/Down here it’s 30% each year to fund the world’s end….” Nevertheless, there are plenty of moments that find him sounding less armored than before, waxing more ambivalent and ruminative. It's as if, surveying the post-9/11, post-Abu Ghraib landscape, he's taking no satisfaction in having sized it up correctly long before the fact. Call it world-weary fatalism, if you like. In El-P's case, it's the perspective you adopt when you've seen your most "paranoid" and "dystopic" reckonings made manifest. As another latter-day poet once shrugged: "I am tired already/of being so hopelessly right."

El-P and associates are hitting town to play at the Abbey tomorrow evening. On hand to manage the DJ duties for the tour is turntablist Mr. Dibbs, formerly of 1200 Hobos and Atmosphere affiliation. Def Jux labelmates Hangar 18 are also on the bill. Yak Ballz and Slow Suicide Stimulus open. 3420 W. Grace @ Elston. Doors open at 9pm, and things get rolling at 10. The show is 18 and over. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door.

[video]: El-P (w/ Trent Reznor) – “Flyentology”
[mp3]: El-P - “EMG”
[video]: El-P, et al. - “Def Jux Innerview” documentary

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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