Company Flow’s labyrinthine lyrical content is so rich, listening closely and at high volume is a necessity.
Polysyllabic words are thrown out at high speeds, referencing everything from obscure sci-fi literature to outsider politics to popular music’s lack of integrity. El-P and Bigg Jus stand firmly as opposition to the superficial, playing contrarian to the sacred cows of radio rap by packing every verse with as much abstruse substance as possible. Hell, even when they say nothing, “it’s a beautiful use of negative space.”
Musically, El-P’s multi-layered, low-tech soundscapes are just as mysterious, evoking dense, static-laden field recordings. Eerie, distant piano, horn and sitar are juxtaposed by glitchy and skittish digital blips, disconcerting film clips and water-logged echo. A tone of paranoia cloaks every track like a veil, making for an unsettling, but unified sonic experience.
The culmination of lyrical and musical ingenuity is also the most personal. “Last Good Sleep” is El-P’s harrowing portrait of domestic hell, depicting a frightened child whose adulthood is haunted by an abusive stepfather. Film noir horn, jarring tonal loops and ominous “’til the day I die” choral snippets speak volumes about the haunting terror that is the human memory.
The lasting impact of a violent household may seem like serious subject matter for self-financed musicians, but Funcrusher Plus is no tempest in a teacup. This is a full-fledged masterpiece, responsible for expanding Hip Hop’s umbrella to allow high-concept, introspective and esoteric work.
Company Flow – Funcrusher Plus was ranked #41 on Matt Deapo‘s Hip Hop Top 50, a ranking of 50 of the best Hip Hop albums recorded between 1978 and 2006, based on this consideration and these rules.