Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on May 17th 2012 5:00PM by Joshua Ostroff
When legendary indie rapper-producer El-P took the stage at Pitchfork's SXSW dayparty, he introduced his agit-rap jam "Up All Night" by boasting about his last visit to the festival in 2008, when he was booed for saying there was no difference between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
"Are we so out of the delusion that we can admit now I was right?" he asked with a wide grin. Though the crowd response was tepid to his politics, they certainly went wild for the new songs off El-P's new solo album Cancer for Cure, out May 22 on Fat Possum Records.(Advance stream here.)
El-P later spoke to Spinner about why he doesn't vote, what he thinks of the Occupy Wall Street movement and other political views that inform lyrics like "I see you all regardless / I know what lies are like / I might have been born yesterday, sir / But I stayed up all night."
You ended that SXSW show by saying that you were right about there being no difference between Clinton and McCain and Obama.
Yeah, I just wanted to rub that in everyone's faces. The sad fact is that I'm always right about all this shit. And the reason it's sad is because I'm only always right about shit that's terrible. I'm never right about anything else. It's like my curse.
But do you think that's really true?
I wouldn't say it if I didn't think it was true. I'm not talking about being disappointed in Obama, I can't be disappointed in Obama, because I never believed in the motherfucker in the first place, the same way I never believe in any president. Hate to say it, there are gonna people who will argue with me, there are gonna be people who think it's irresponsible for me to say. There will be people who have good points that say, "well, this changed," and "this changed," and "this is affecting these people," and "how dare you?"
And they're right on some level, local politics changes. But I'm more looking at the real, bigger scope picture of the way the political system is set up. And frankly, once you see through the curtain, it's hard to believe again. I didn't vote because I didn't think any of the candidates were worthy of voting for, because I think the system is rigged.
And I hate to say it. It's an unpopular opinion and there are a lot of people who vehemently disagree with me. And that's fine. That's me. I'll watch American Idol every once in a while, but I'm not calling in to vote like this shit is important. Or I'm not gonna vote in a beauty contest when I know one of the judges is taking money from one of the contestants. I just think it's twisted and corrupted, and no matter who gets in, I just think that they're ultimately figureheads for the military-industrial complex and the banking system. And until that changes...
You sound like Alex Jones.
Fuck Alex Jones. But you can't really argue that the really insidious policies that were created in the Bush-era were not only carried on into the Obama era, but were strengthened. It's really hard for anybody to convince me. I can't every four years all of a sudden get really excited about this shit anymore. I just can't do it. I look at it all, like, "Hey, good luck motherfuckers."
So what do you think about the Occupy movement? Are they wasting their time?
Hell no. I don't think that anyone's wasting their time when they stand up and they say something. I'm impressed and proud when people do that. Just because I'm not someone who does that, I'm a part of it in my own way. I make music and I'm a writer. I do what I do, and if there's a contribution, that's where I've decided to make it and hopefully it means something.
It's interesting. I'm rooting for something positive to come out of all of this. Do I think that it's gonna get all of a sudden magically better? No. I think it's gonna get worse. I think it's designed to get worse. I think there is inevitability to that, and even maybe a plan.
I find it exciting because it felt like there was no dissent. After 9/11 there was just no dissent for years and years.
Right. Exactly. And all of a sudden you were like, "Wait a second. There's something happening? That's kind of interesting." I had given up on that idea. I'm just a regular motherfucker. I have my own ideas about shit, and who knows when the chips are down what would happen? Who knows how you would act if you had to do something that means something? But for the most part, I'm like anyone else, I really just wanna be happy. I really just wanna live.
I avoid political conversations with people because my opinions always end up being wildly unpopular. They offend people because people better than me really love having hope, and I really agree that that's awesome, and I think that that's great. And unfortunately, I don't have much to contribute to that conversation. The only hope that I have is the hope in the human spirit. I have hope that amazing thing can happen between people, and that there can be transformations communally and spiritually and I think that those things are bright right now. It would be interesting to see positive shit come out out of all this.
But I'm not advocating for anything.
You're advocating for cynicism.
Nah, man, I'm not advocating for cynicism. I still believe in heart and spirit. I still believe in chance. I don't believe that all my worst instincts about what's going on are right. I'm just saying that's how I feel. I'm not saying that's the truth.