So, what was El-P’s answer to the break-up of Company Flow? That would be the formerly unknown duo of Cannibal Ox, including the giant known as Vast Aire, and his partner Vordul. Of course the unknown part would change with El-P handling all of the production, and with the potential “album of the year” talk after the release. If you haven’t heard The Cold Vein, then you’re probably wondering what’s so good about it, or if it’s just another result of too much hype.
The album begins with a short intro, which goes directly into their first single, “Iron Galaxy.” Its Vordul who shows off his impressive rhyme pattern with two verses, but its Vast Aire who steals the show. “You were a still-born baby / mother didn’t want you, but you were still born.” Then there is the incredible El-P instrumental, which might not just be the best on the album, but one of the best of the year. Characterized by many switch-up’s and original sounds, El-P has really raised the bar for his rivals in this game of hip hop. Other production worth mentioning includes “Straight of the D.I.C.”, with a haunting beat that fits the two MC’s. Actually, if I could only say one thing about this album, I would say that it all comes together perfectly. Vast Aire’s poetic style and high voice perfectly contrast Vordul’s rhyme pattern and grainy sound. This is probably best shown on “Raspberry Fields”, which includes one of the more “different” instrumentals El-P provided the duo with. The second single, “Vein,” brings a futuristic sound to modern day lyricism.
Then there are the collaborations. El-P shows up on the vocal end for both “Ox out the Cage” and “Ridiculoud.” On the latter, his repeating of “My life’s not right” could get anyone moving for the track, but the mood quickly slows down when the beat comes in. Atoms Family members Alaska and Cryptic show up for “Atom”, which probably contains the weakest production on the album. The main problem is that the song goes on for 5:40, and the beat is not strong enough to hold that amount of time, although it is still quite good. Out of all the collaborations, the most impressive comes in the form of “Battle for Asgard” featuring L.I.F.E. Long and C-Rayz Walz. Highlighted by the intro to the beat in the beginning, and again towards the middle. “The F Word” and “Pigeon” serve as the best conceptual tracks of the LP. “The F Word” is a Vast Aire solo in which he describes relationship problems in a heartfelt manner.
Amazing production and strong lyricism top off an LP that is fourteen tracks deep(fifteen if you include the CD bonus track), with no lapses in quality. Are they really bringing anything new to hip hop? Probably not. But they did supply us with an incredible debut LP, showing off how much El-Producto has improved on the boards, and also showing off two young MC’s from New York who have big plans. After all, how many producers could make 15 tracks for an LP, and have it end up with a score of 9 out of 10? That’s not to sell Vast Aire and Vordul short. They’ve handled the hype well so far, but let’s hope that they don’t fall under the second album curse that so many before them have. Then there are others who will leave this LP thinking, “What would they be without El-P?” Well, we shouldn’t let ourselves get too concerned with what would have been, because then we aren’t appreciating what IS.
Reviewed By RhymeLife.Com for HipHopHotSpot.Com