May 15, 2016

Canibal Ox "The Cold Vein" (CMJ, August 2001)

"The members of Harlem's Cannibal Ox not only relish the ol' school, but a time before ol' school. During "Ridiculoid," from the duo's debut Cold Vein, Vordul Mega offers a stream of consciousness recollection: "I still remember the age of Coleco, a daily struggle, but I hold onto the vision - hip-hop at its best when it lacked television." If you take away rap's broadcasted glamour and everything it bore - the gold chains and the stretch 4x4s - you return to the era of politically empowered street griots such as Harlem's Last Poets. The urgent cries and idealistic ponderings of Mega and his partner Vast Aire often recall their conscious rap forefathers, mixing references to Jackie Gleason, Sigmund Freud and the Kennedy Curse into anecdotes about welfare mothers and that "anorexic space between love and hate." (Updated) ... Check out video of the Cold Vein record release party: the performance features Cannibal Ox, El-P, and Mr. Lif in front of a sold out crowd. This amazing show took place on June 24, 2001 at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA. Cont'd below...

"Producer El-P (formerly of Company Flow) spill-paints the tracks with rocket engine swooshes, moody bass notes and fax-machine feedback. It's not always the most head-bopping combination, but it allows room for the rappers' philosophical squiggles, which simultaneously decry the era of soundbites while utilizing its most effective weapon. You may be able to find funkier hip-hop tracks, yet you'll be hard-pressed to find a more brilliant report on the mindstate of Harlem youth - one that remains reverent to that neighborhood's poetic past." - CMJ, August 2001. (Updated).