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"A good artist is supposed to use all of his influences and pain and joy and suffering in his records," El-P says. "I think the problem is when an artist does the same thing over and over. If every song is incredibly heartfelt and you have 12 incredibly heartfelt, tear-jerking moments, it's just not that powerful."
In the case of I'll Sleep..., a good artist also knows when to collaborate. The disc not only features cameos by longtime friends (Aesop Rock, Tame One, Cage) but special guests Cat Power, the Mars Volta, and even Trent Reznor, the last two whom he had previously remixed.
"It's me just kind of using them in certain parts," El says. "It's not like some rap-rock mashup. I'm just a fan of all of them for different reasons, and I heard places on the record for them." Cat Power, for instance, appears as the wistful female crooning a hook, the others as sonic ingredients in an instrumental stew.
Monday's performance is one of four he has scheduled in a minitour before the album is released on March 20. (The other dates are in New York, San Francisco, and L.A.). The Miami stop makes sense after recent successful shows by Cage and Mr. Lif and with a local hip-hop scene progressively growing in size.
"Miami's been showing us a lot of love in the last couple of years," he says. "I feel like a lot of groups just skip Miami and the fans get the shaft. It's a really hungry scene out there."