I have a love/hate relationship with modern rap. Mostly hate. With the whole mixtape thing, it feels like the market has been saturated with a bunch of assholes who have a laptop and absolutely nothing to say. How do I know you slang and shoot? You could be a kid in your basement in Sudbury, MA. Yo, man, yelling at your mom to get you a Dr. Pepper don’t make you hard. Nor do I really give a shit. There’s just too little of substance and dick this, gun that, molly and whatnot. And now I sound like my parents. But, seriously, rap kinda sucks in 2014. So along comes two Gen X dudes, who by all whatever should be completely irrelevant and run out of town as O.G. suckas — if these swag shitheads even know what that is. Instead, older white dudes like me appreciate them for trying to do something more than repeating the same thing 27 times in a song and calling it music. El-P, being an old white dude himself, has an appreciation for the art of hip-hop. The man is a dope producer and can make a tune sound intense and engaged, while highlighting all the things that make rap awesome. It’s a gnarly pastiche of sound and bass and almost a futuristic police state that he throws out there. No thin synths and kid bullshit here. I’m not terribly familiar with Killer Mike, but multiple listens bring his smarts to the forefront. I mean, at first I thought the guy was all about his dick and his potty-mouth, but based also on listening to a couple podcasts on which he appeared, I realize the guy is a craftsman, a guy who “gets” it. I mean the guy uses the word “pugnaciously.” That has to be a hip-hop first. It’s not surprising, for instance, that they pulled in Zack De La Rocha (late of Rage Against the Machine) to guest on one track, as there’s a good deal of the album that feels like a middle-finger protest. Against what, I couldn’t tell you, but there is certainly something about the album that doesn’t feel intensely frivolous like so much of the other fly-by-night shit out there. As the weeks pass, I am less and less engaged in the rap world, as I’m too old and tired to cut through the nonsense, but thank the hip-hop gods that albums like this come along to restore my faith in the art form.