Dude may have announced the indefinite hiatus of his Definitive Jux label back in 2010—but BK native El-P, independent as fuck since 1996, has managed to produce not one but two of the very best hiphop albums to drop in this, the year of our lord 2012. (If you're still out here popping that Mayan apocalypse flimflam, maybe you missed the story where they found an even older Mayan calendar in Guatemala that goes hella past 2012. Be sure to reference that in your next cipher.) The first would be his third solo album, Cancer 4 Cure (Fat Possum). C4C contains El-P's most human-sounding production ever. While his buzzing/grinding beats have always sounded like the guts of some demented, disused android, in 2012, El-P's sounds squelch wetly, evoking the slimy innards of a more advanced, organic synthezoid, maybe like Bishop from Aliens or Mitt Romney (boom, suck it). There's some of that bath-salt/bug-out shit ("The Full Retard," "Drones Over Brooklyn," "Oh Hail No") you've come to expect from El Producto, and he doesn't skimp on the whole creeping-urban-horror chamber, either. My favorite track, "For My Upstairs Neighbor," sees El playing Cam'ron on 60 Minutes, sitting in an interrogation room, feigning ignorance, protecting his titular neighbor from the law, though they're clearly guilty of... something. "If you kill him, I won't tell," El sings—but what's truly scary is just how intimate such a promise is, especially to a complete stranger.

Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music, released by Williams Street (aka the folks from Adult Swim), is the other album you need in your life this year, the first LP that El-P has produced in full for someone else since 2001's game-changing (don't front, ex- backpackers) Cannibal Ox debut, The Cold Vein. These two have created the unthinkable, or at least the damned unlikely: a rapper's definitive statement, delivered some 12 years after his first appearance (on Stankonia's "Snappin and Trappin'"), and at least twice removed from the superstar clique he used to roll with (the Dungeon Family, natch). Now, the parallel to Ice Cube's going to NYC to make AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted with the Bomb Squad has already been said to death about R.A.P. Music, but it stands up so well, particularly because no rapper in recent years has channeled O'Shea's articulated fury in his prime like Killa Kill (just peep the two MCs' previous collabs, "Pressure" and the remix of "Bad Day/Worse Day"). "Ronald Reagan" naturally takes on the legacy of Cube's old enemy—the father of the crack era, the monster of hiphop's adolescence—and the ferocious "Don't Die" is a cop-popping fantasy more than worthy of the "Fuck tha Police" OG. For all the cathartic, shell-sprinkling firepower that Mike brings, he delivers just as much redemptive potency, utilizing the title track to point out the spiritual needs (fuck the middleman, mind you) of a people lost. "Hardcore G shit," is what he begins the album with; he ends it with "This is church, fuck you, amen, pulpit—what my people need and the opposite of bullshit." recommended

El-P, Killer Mike, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, and Despot play Sun July 1 at Neumos, 8 pm, $18.50, 21+.