I'll Sleep When You're Dead


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. One of the most powerful hip-hop albums of 2007.
  4. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is a triumph that will, like its predecessor, take years to unpeel.
  5. The Impressionistic sound painting El-P has long threatened - and finally delivered.
  6. 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.
  7. Entertainment Weekly
    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. Once it hits its stride, it just keeps on getting better.
  9. Urb
    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]
  10. Paste Magazine
    Already the best hip-hop release of 2007, and it ain't even close. [Mar 2007, p.68]
  11. Uncut
    For those willing to take a chance, it's an impeccably realised, verbose treat. [Apr 2007, p.99]
  12. It's a scary, difficult album, but one well suited for our times.
  13. “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” feels simultaneously futuristic, anachronistic and of the moment.
  14. 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.
  15. El-P's uniquely, beautifully harsh vision remains undiluted.
  16. 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.
  17. El-P has masterfully used New York’s dark corners as a productive muse on I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Alternative Press
    It's full of the old-fashioned care and craft hip-hop has largely forgotten. [May 2007, p.160]
  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. Spin
    Equal parts faithful-but-twisted boom bap and avant-indie rock, the album drips with elbow grease. [Mar 2007, p.91]
  23. Blender
    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. Billboard
    Talk about bleak. [24 Mar 2007]
  25. If you enjoy using your brain rather than listening to it fizzle to the strains of Virgin Radio, then buy this.
  26. Q Magazine
    There's not much in the way of light relief. [Apr 2007, p.118]
  27. Vibe
    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. The problem, however, is that [El-P]'s work is often too deliberated and too dense to work on levels other than the intellectual.
  29. If you're into nodding your head and scratching your head at the same time, Dead is for you.
  30. 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.
  31. Mojo
    El-P's portentous delivery lacks poetics. [May 2007, p.110]
  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 53 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  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. Mar 5, 2016
    El-P knows how to construct beats and display raw lyricism. he does that again on here. this one is another awesome piece of work hesEl-P knows how to construct beats and display raw lyricism. he does that again on here. this one is another awesome piece of work hes crafted. this is up there with his past works. Full Review »
  3. Oct 8, 2014
    You really can't stop listening once you start. El-P made his big entrance with Fantastic Damage, but in some ways this seems to surpassYou really can't stop listening once you start. El-P made his big entrance with Fantastic Damage, but in some ways this seems to surpass Fantastic Damage lyrically. Full Review »