Ten years ago, El-P dropped his brilliantly abrasive solo debut, Fantastic Damage, while Killer Mike's show-stealing verse on Outkast's "The Whole World" had him pegged as the next Dungeon Family member to rule Southern rap. If you told someone back then that both artists would become collaborators within a decade, then go on to deliver a one-two knockout for underground hip hop's hottest summer in ages, they'd either be dubiously skeptical or justifiably geeked. El-P's Cancer 4 Cure and Killer Mike's El-P-produced R.A.P. Music were released within a week of each other back in May, so it's understandable if the two albums already feel like inseparable companion pieces, even if they're each their own thing. Cancer 4 Cure and its prisoner-of-NYC atmosphere are delivered with a Ginsberg-via-Rakim relentlessness that ducks drones over Brooklyn, turns relationships into interrogations, and promises not to snitch on a domestic abuse victim's murderous revenge. Where that album's claustrophobic stress is done justice by El-P in fuzzed-out Iommi-on-synths mode, R.A.P. Music has the producer go classic head-knock Bomb Squad style. And nine years after Killer Mike called himself "new school Ice Cube" on Monster highlight "Rap Is Dead," he's finally got his AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted to batter down doors. 18+.
Thu., July 5, 8 p.m., 2012