After a year or so of being bombarded with bandwagon-jumping, hazed-out “cloud rap”, it’s a real pleasure to behold the triumphant return to the game of Brooklyn’s Jaime Meline, AKA El Producto, AKA El-P. Out of the spotlight since the release of his sophomore solo long-player I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead in 2007, relatively low-key guest verses and production work on releases last year from Das Racist and Mr. Motherfucking eXquire served to acknowledge Meline’s influence (as a rapper, producer and – as boss of the Def Jux label – entrepreneur) on a new generation raised on Company Flow and Cannibal Ox, but did little to prepare for the spectacular impact he would have on hip hop circa 2012: between Killer Mike’s just-released R.A.P. Music – featuring all El-P beats – and his own latest offering Cancer 4 Cure, Meline can justly claim a hefty chunk of the credit for two of the last decade’s best rap albums. Where, as previously discussed, Mike’s record marries brilliantly articulated socio-political commentary to straight-up club-ready bangers, C4C is more abstract, more experimental and an altogether more savage beast. Opening with a rush of clanging, razor-edged breakbeats that recall Fat Of The Land-era Prodigy (the UK rave-punks as opposed to the Mobb Deep rapper), we’re soon thrown head-first into more familiar territory, with all the traits of a “typical” El-P production present and correct; icy synths, lazer-beam FX, stuttering snares and warped, cavernous bass-lines are fused together to create a post-apocalyptic sound-world that is just as terrifyingly futuristic as it was on Co. Flow’s Funcrusher Plus fifteen years ago. Lyrically, too, Meline sticks to the kind of dark-hued themes he’s most comfortable with – corruption, poverty, war, injustice, paranoia – and here his verbal skills are tighter than ever. Even in the company of some of the best MCs around at the minute (Mike, eXquire, Despot and Danny Brown), El holds his own with some impressive double-speed rapping and powerful storytelling; “For My Upstairs Neighbor” finds our man being probed by cops over a domestic dispute in his building that took an unexpected, gruesome twist whilst “Tougher Colder Killer” tells the story of a remorseful American soldier addressing the mother of the man he has just killed via a note left on the victim’s body. As we’ve come to expect from his work, though, Meline proves that familiar doesn’t necessarily have to equate to formulaic, and C4C dazzles at every turn. A triumphant return, and – taken in tandem with R.A.P. Music – one that pushes El-P even further up the ranks of the greatest producers in hip hop history.