Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Ultimately, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead displays a type of artistic growth almost alien to the genre.
  2. I'll Sleep When You're Dead is too smart, too relevant, and too dangerous.
  3. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is a triumph that will, like its predecessor, take years to unpeel.
  4. It seems - for the first time, perhaps - he's made one out of love for the artform alone rather than with the added motive of letting off a little barely-suppressed rage or feeling he has scores to settle, either with the industry or himself.
  5. One of the most powerful hip-hop albums of 2007.
  6. The Impressionistic sound painting El-P has long threatened - and finally delivered.
  7. He flirts with melody here... and relaxes his delivery, allowing us to take a breath before heading back into the chaos. [23 Mar 2007, p.59]
  8. El-P has masterfully used New York’s dark corners as a productive muse on I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead.
  9. It's a scary, difficult album, but one well suited for our times.
  10. Where [Fantastic Damage] assured its legacy through sheer density, piling beats on top of one another haphazardly and layering hype tracks laced with punchlines, subtexts, and asides, Sleep finds El-P focusing his fury into individual crescendos, particularly during the record’s sterling second half.
  11. 80
    For those willing to take a chance, it's an impeccably realised, verbose treat. [Apr 2007, p.99]
  12. 80
    There was a lot going on, but it's not until now... that El-P's music could actually be called full. So full that even silence weighs a ton. [Mar 2007, p.95]
  13. It's full of the old-fashioned care and craft hip-hop has largely forgotten. [May 2007, p.160]
  14. After repeat listens, the content of El-P’s more afflictive lyrics begins to fall away so that only the rhythm and timbre of his smoky growl remain to complement the record’s malevolent chorus of synth effects and samples. A beautiful use of negative space, indeed.
  15. Already the best hip-hop release of 2007, and it ain't even close. [Mar 2007, p.68]
  16. El-P's uniquely, beautifully harsh vision remains undiluted.
  17. Once it hits its stride, it just keeps on getting better.
  18. It is in the spaces between words and drums, and in the general structures of the songs... that El-P most clearly exhibits growth. And it is these points on the album that make I’ll Sleep an intriguing release.
  19. “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” feels simultaneously futuristic, anachronistic and of the moment.
  20. The genius of I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead—and the reason it deserves to be considered as a progressive step in El-P’s journey as an artist—is that the tracks are just as dense and complex as on his other albums, but in a new, fresh way.
  21. Nobody makes hip-hop as textured and atmospheric as El-P, and he manages to temper his disorienting noise with soulful suggestions this time out.
  22. If you enjoy using your brain rather than listening to it fizzle to the strains of Virgin Radio, then buy this.
  23. 70
    For the first time in El-P's career, he's realized you don't need to be loud to get your point across. [Apr 2007, p.110]
  24. There's not much in the way of light relief. [Apr 2007, p.118]
  25. 70
    Equal parts faithful-but-twisted boom bap and avant-indie rock, the album drips with elbow grease. [Mar 2007, p.91]
  26. Talk about bleak. [24 Mar 2007]
  27. 70
    This is his most conventional and guest-heavy work, but also a rewarding reminder that independent hip hop was once something more than a curio. [Apr 2007, p.128]
  28. 60
    El-P's portentous delivery lacks poetics. [May 2007, p.110]
  29. If you're into nodding your head and scratching your head at the same time, Dead is for you.
  30. The problem, however, is that [El-P]'s work is often too deliberated and too dense to work on levels other than the intellectual.
  31. El-P's progressive beats here are full of driving, distorted drum sounds and rough samples; futuristic b-boy shit that walks a fine line between funky and grating.
  32. "I'll Sleep" isn't supposed to be easy listening, but it shouldn't be this hard, either.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 42 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. johnnyb.
    Jun 12, 2007
    I would call el-p ahead of his time, but I don't think time will ever catch him.
  2. hypernation
    Jan 24, 2008
    this album along with Saul williams niggy tardust will completely change your view on what hip hop is capable of. Incredible, diverse and all too rare in this landscape of mediocrity. Full Review »
  3. JTR
    Jun 28, 2007
    Dope. Musically melodic, lyrically satisfying, superior in every way to all contemporary rap artists. Builds on the foundations of Fantastic Damage, and adds nuances and fixtures that floorplan lacked. What's wrong with deep production value when holistically the package is so complete? Full Review »