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El-P on the Music That Made Him

Grinderman: Grinderman 2

I had gotten into Nick Cave through to the score for the [2006] film The Proposition. After that, I just was randomly picking up shit that he was a part of, and that’s how I found Grinderman. This album nails that raw energy that I look for—and when I find it, I latch on to it. There’s a danger to it, and there’s an intellectualism about it that is sort of tongue-in-cheek.

You’re not necessarily going to listen to every Nick Cave record and think, This is Nick Cave expressing Nick Cave’s feelings. He’s often coming up with characters, and that’s a really cool aspect of making music. I don’t think music has to always be, like, “Here’s my heart and my story,” because quite frankly that may not be that interesting all the time. It’s a good reminder to me as a writer that it’s nice to have the ability to come from a different place.

2009 was the year that I spent having lost everything. Everything that I was working on and all the relationships I put my energy into creatively had just come to a Hindenburgian fucking explosion. I was broke. I had to downgrade everything. I was eating once a day. I was really humbled and terrified and I didn’t have anything going on for a minute. I was trying to pick up the pieces and figure out what my life was going to be. 

In 2010, a couple things happened. First, Fat Possum came in and offered me a deal for a solo album, which would ultimately become

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