Company Flow introduced me to El-Producto, a hero of mine for so long, it’s hard to remember life before his cold, abstract hip-hop banged its way through my speakers.
For 10 years, he’s been the high commander Def Jux, a label that puts out some of the best around (Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, Cannibal Ox, Murs, Del the Funky Homosapien). But El-P’s stepping down. He writes:
In 2000 starting a traditional record label made a lot of sense. But now, in 2010, less so and I find myself yearning for something else to put my energy into. I also see newer, smarter, more interesting things on the horizon for the way art and commerce intersect, and as an artist and an entrepreneur, I'm eager to see them unfold. The evolution of this industry is, in my opinion, exciting, inevitable and it would be nice to see the DEFINITIVE JUX brand be a part of it. In other words, maybe we can turn this hoopty in to a hovercraft.
He always shoots straight. I got a chance to interview him in 2007 and saw him perform at South by Southwest in 2008. At that show, he said he wasn’t going to vote for president. A paraphrase from my SXSW blog:
A lot of people say, "You can't complain if you don't vote." The fucking system is rigged, I can complain. Then they go, "Well what if Obama wins? That will be something." I say if Obama wins, he's one of them.
A lot of commenters took issue with that. We were splashing around in “hope” and “change” back then. As our columnist Jerry Ortiz y Pino opined (though not in so many words), welcome to the desert.