Album Review | Cannibal Ox – The Cold Vein

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This album was released on May 15th in 2001. It’s Cannibal Ox’s first album. Their second album, Blade Of The Ronin, is the latest thing on my schedule, but I figured I should get this one outta the way before I check that out. I probably should’ve done the same thing with Fashawn. I guess I’m technically gonna be doing a Cannibal Ox Marathon since they only have two albums out. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this project. I’ve never heard any songs from it, but it’s considered a classic album by pretty much everyone who knows what they’re talking about. Even iTunes labeled it as an “Underground Classic” at one point. Oh shit; I guess I should explain who Cannibal Ox is. Cannibal Ox is a Hip Hop duo consisting of Vast Aire & Vordul Mega. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any music from either of those two MCs separately. I’ve barely heard any of their music as a group. I know I heard a few singles from their latest album Blade Of The Ronin, but I don’t really remember them very well. So yeah. I pretty much have zero experience with Can Ox’s music. I’m more familiar with El-P, but probably not as much as I should be. I only know him from Run The Jewels. Maybe I should do Killer Mike & El-P marathons simultaneously leading up to the release of Run The Jewels 3. Fuck. There are so many marathons I have to do. I never even heard the first Run The Jewels album. I only heard Run The Jewels 2. I even posted a review for it around the time that I first started this website, but I took it down ’cause it was terrible. I took a lot of my early reviews down. Anyway, I guess I should stop wasting time and get this shit started already. I’m expecting this to be great. Every song is produced by El-P.

Track 1: Iron Galaxy

Iron Galaxy

I’m not in love with the long winded intro. This beat is dope af tho. It kinda sounds like a grimy New York beat with a very slight Electronic influence. Vordul Mega’s goin’ in on this first verse. He’s just describing life in the ghettos of New York. He fuckin’ killed that shit. He was rappin’ his fuckin’ ass off. Vast Aire’s goin’ in now. Goddamn. His verse was dope af too. “Battered wives / Molested children / Roaches on the floor / Rats in the ceiling / Cats walk around New York with two fillings / One is in their mouth, the other does the killing.” I can’t say anything negative about this track. I love this song. That beat from El-P was crazy, and both MC’s killed it. I definitely fuck with this song. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 2: Ox Out The Cage Feat. El-P

Oh HELL yes. This beat is fuckin’ crazy. The first verse in which El-P and Vast Aire were tradin’ bars was dope af. This is awesome. This album is really reminding me of the way everyone was spittin’ on 36 Chambers. This definitely makes up for that wack ass Gravediggaz EP I just listened to… The first verse was great. Damn. Vordul Mega went the fuck off on that last verse. He definitely had the best verse. He rapped way more than El-P and Vast Aire tho. This is another great track. I don’t have any problems with this one. The structure is super simple; it’s just a fantastic beat with three MCs rapping their fuckin’ asses off. This is dope af to me. 5/5

Track 3: Atom Feat. Alaska & Cryptic One

I’ve never heard of Alaska or Cryptic One. Apparently they’re both members of a group called Atoms Family. I think Can Ox is in Atoms Family too. Alaska is also in a group called Hanger 18. He’s goin’ in on the first verse. Oh my fuck. This beat from El-P is insane, man. Alaska killed the first verse. “We’re all from the same mold: spores and bacteria / Told we’re inferior / Others ignore hysteria / A claustrophobic neurosis / In this masquerade ball of fake glasses and big noses.” Vast Aire comes in right behind him. Goddamn. This guy is so awesome. “Some say I touch hearts like Kano.” His verse was dope af. Cryptic One’s goin’ in now. This is so fucking dope. More people need to make music like this. Just a gang of dope MCs rapping their fuckin’ asses off over a fantastic beat with no hook. Good lord. Cryptic One’s verse was crazy. The horns that come in towards the end of Vordul Mega’s verse sound great. Goddamn. This song is fucking awesome. Every song I’ve heard on this album has been better than the last. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 4: A B-Boy’s Alpha (Scratches by DJ PaWL)

Vast Aire opens this song up by saying “My mother said, ‘You sucked my pussy when you came out / Don’t ever talk back / I handed you life, and I’ll snatch it back.” This beat is dope. I don’t think it’s as amazing as the other beats I’ve heard on this album, but it’s still really good. This is definitely the most personal song on the album so far. Vast’s talking about how he got into Hip Hop. His verse was dope af. The samples that come in during the scratches from DJ PaWL sound kinda bad… They don’t really seem to fit well over the rest of the beat. The actual scratching from DJ PaWL is dope tho. Vordul Mega’s verse was phenomenal. He definitely had the better verse in my opinion. Hmmm. I don’t know what rating to give this track. It’s really good, but I don’t know if I like it as much as the other songs. Ummm… Yeah, this is definitely my least favorite song so far. It’s still a really good song tho. I just wasn’t in love with the samples that I mentioned before. Vordul Mega killed this shit. This is dope. 4/5

Track 5: Raspberry Fields

This beat is weird as hell… I like it tho. It’s one of those experimental beats that kinda makes you scratch your head at first, but you keep finding yourself returning to it. It’s dope. Vast Aire’s on the first verse. “If first you don’t succeed try, try again / Step up to the mic and die again / This is the next lifetime and you want to battle / Either you like reincarnation or the smell of carnations.” God. This is just too good. The first verse was dope af. Vordul Mega’s verse was great too. I fuck with this song, but not as much as the others. The beat is really weird. I like it, but I’m not completely sold on it. Both of the MCs went in on this shit tho. This is dope to me. 4/5

Track 6: Straight Off The D.I.C.

This beat is dope as hell. The first verse from Vast Aire was great. “They call me Starving Harlem Scissor Tongue; I lick tissue.” I think this is the first track on the album with a hook. The way the beat changes definitely takes some getting used to. It sounds like someone just played a Casio keyboard over the song. It’s really discordant too. I kinda got used to it after a few listens tho. The hook itself is pretty dope. “The type of poems we spit rips through scripts and strips your bones.” Vordul Mega’s verse was great. I really like this song. Again, I’m not in love with the production during the hook, but everything else about this song is great to me. This is dope. 4/5

Track 7: Vein

Vein

This beat is dope. The first verse from Mega was really good. Can I call him Mega for short? Do people call him that? Or is it Vordul? Whatever. His verse was great. “What really defines the line of a hater? / And what defines the line of someone even greater? / And what makes somebody jump that line trying to take it? / Wrapped behind enemy lines trying to make it.” Goddamn. Vast Aire’s verse was fuckin’ crazy. He tells the story of a shootout that he has with some 12 year old kid. Well, he actually just recalls the encounter leading up to the actual shootout. “He cocked first / I cocked second and in that exact second both of the gats burst.” This is so awesome. Vordul came through at the end with his second verse and closed this shit out. I definitely fuck with this song. The beat from El-P was dope, and both MCs ripped this shit. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 8: The F Word

The F Word

This beat is dope af. Vast’s rapping about the “friend zone,” but I actually don’t really mind it. He’s not coming off as an entitled douchebag who thinks he deserves this chick. It’s not the most interesting subject matter for me personally, but I think he’s doing it well. I liked the first verse. Oh shit… Vordul’s only on the hook. I guess that’ll give me a chance to dive deeper into Vast Aire’s perspective of this concept. “Check this situation; I wore my lust like cologne / She called it Obsession.” The song just ended. It was dope. I don’t usually like songs about shit like this, but I think he did it really well. Again, the most common flaw I see around this whole idea of the “friend zone” is that it’s usually coming from a douchebag who thinks he has the right to be with whomever he wants just because he isn’t a complete asshole. That wasn’t the case with Vast Aire on this song tho. I still don’t find the subject matter that interesting, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy this track. This is dope to me. 4/5

Track 9: Stress Rap (Scratches by DJ Cip One)

This beat is dope af. Vordul Mega’s on the first verse. As you might’ve guessed from the title, this song is pretty much about the struggle one endures living in rough environments; particularly Harlem. The first verse was great. The hook from Vordul’s dope. Good fucking lord. This second verse from Vast Aire is absolutely incredible. “Brothers is mad I wear knowledge like a third degree burn / Light the match; put it to the rhyme book / Make sure it all fits in the urn; the cream of life / Beats and rhymes are butter / That in which I churn.” He fuckin’ murdered this shit. The third verse from Vordul Mega was dope af. “Everything going wrong in the ghetto / Cops Desert Storm on blocks lettin’ off, and they gettin’ off on the ease / On the corner Ds hop out of unmarked Vs and squeeze ’till we on our knees.” It’s so fucked up how people completely ignored shit like that until they saw it with their own eyes thanks to phone cameras & social media. Vast came through again on the fourth and final verse. This song is fucking awesome. The beat was crazy, and Vordul Mega & Vast Aire both killed this shit. I feel like I’ve been saying that for almost every track. It’s true tho. This shit is dope af. 5/5

Track 10: Battle For Asgard Feat. C-Rayz Walz & L.I.F.E. Long

Wow. Battle For Asgard. That might actually be the dorkiest title I’ve ever seen for a song. I’m sure it’s dope tho. It’s starting now. L.I.F.E. Long did his thing on the intro verse. I guess the whole “Battle For Asgard” theme of this song is kind of a metaphor for their theoretical rap battles. “Make your whole body feel it when I spray / The battle’s just begun; it gets deeper as the song plays.” Vordul Mega’s on the second verse. Oh, this beat is dope by the way. Mega’s verse was good. I kinda wish he went in for a little longer tho. His verse seemed really short compared to everyone else. Oh well; it’s just a nitpick. The way the beat broke after his verse was fucking awesome. C-Rayz Walz is on the third verse; I love his aggressive delivery. His verse was fantastic. “Allow me to surf on your brain waves with jet skis / Unless you want your wrists to part like the Red Sea / On the roof of hell you got stomped by angel’s feet / ‘Cause you can’t be down; you had gravity deficiency.” Vast Aire’s goin’ in on the final verse now. This song reminds me a lot of something Czarface would make. There are a lot of nerdy references, but in a really cool way. “Got the stroll of Galactus now I’m planet-swallowin’ / Megala’s got the surfboard, and he’s hollerin’.” I really don’t see any substantial flaws in this track. It’s just more MCs rapping their asses off. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 11: Real Earth (Scratches by DJ Cip One)

Damn. Vast Aire’s goin’ the fuck off right now. “They lied when they said there was no Aire in space / I’ll boil an emcee to the teeth with no trace / I’m like Moses with a staff that parts the Red Sea / But it’s a new day, so I use the mic to depart emcees.” This beat is crazy too. Oh snap. This is actually a solo track from Vast Aire. As you can probably tell from the lines I quoted, this is a very lyrically confrontational song. Vast Aire is basically just daring any MC to try to battle him. It’s a diss towards “one dimensional MCs.” I’m not sure why Vordul Mega was absent for this track, but Vast Aire held things down pretty well by himself. I really fuck with this track. I loved the raw percussion in El-P’s beat, and Vast Aire tore this shit apart. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 12: Ridiculoid Feat. El-P

Fuck yes. This beat is dope af. Holy… Mother of… Lord… This verse from El-P is fucking bananas. “I walk door to door Mormon style spitting my sick tantrums / Because I wasn’t born handsome / Now that my life’s complete with a capacity to push greatness buttons / With beats that have to be registered as sex offenders represented to the public.” This fool is rapping his goddamn ASS off. His verse was crazy. The second verse from Vordul was great too. Vast Aire killed the last verse. El-P really stole the show for me tho. That verse was crazy. I don’t really have much else to say; the structure is very straightforward. It’s just three great verses. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 13: Painkillers

This beat is cool. Vast Aire did his thing on the first verse. I wasn’t really blown away by his verse like I usually am. It was still good tho. Damn. Mega’s verse was awesome. This is pretty dark stuff. I may be interpreting this song the wrong way, but it sounded like they were rapping about taking drugs to distract themselves from the fucked up environment in which they live. If you haven’t noticed, inner city crime is a prevalent theme throughout this album. “If I had a trigger I would squeeze; believe / Blow my whole head off and bleed / Trying to get that same feeling / Every day pain killing.” Mega’s verse was dope af. Lemme check this music video out real quick. Meh. It was cool I guess. It definitely wasn’t bad. It wasn’t anything special tho. It wasn’t really different from any other Hip Hop music video. This is a really dope song. I wasn’t super impressed by the production, but it was still good. I fuck with this song. This is dope to me. 4/5

Track 14: Pigeon

Oh my lord… This beat is fucking crazy. The primary loop is really smooth and pleasant, but the percussion is really hard. It’s dope af. This is probably my favorite beat on the whole album actually. Vast Aire’s on the first verse. I think he’s using pigeons as a metaphor for people stuck in the ghettos of New York. “Birds of the same feather flock together / Congested on a majestic street corner / That’s a short time goal for most of ’em ’cause most of ’em / Would rather expand their wings and hover over greater things.” The first verse was great. Mega killed the second verse. “Cats who pop flows shot heavy through the nostril / Brain sizzle; grab the pistol, and get hostile / He caught you alone; fuse blown / Unemployed, screaming ‘That’s why I robbed you‘ / Tired of the Medicaid; debted by the car.” I don’t really have much to say about this one. It’s not really that different from the other tracks. It’s just really well done. I fuck with this one. It’s dope af. 5/5

Track 15: Scream Phoenix

This beat is dope af. The first verse from Vordul Mega was great. This song actually has a hook, unlike 90% of the album. It’s not bad. This kinda feels like a sequel to the previous track. It’s like they’re telling the “pigeons” who are stuck in the hook that they need to evolve into phoenixes to make it out. “We now possess the power of ten suns / To transcend and elevate into one / Famine, the disease, and senseless dying is done.” Vast Aire’s verse was dope af. This is another fantastic song. This is dope af to me. 5/5

Final Thoughts:

This album is fucking incredible. I think I’m gonna stick with that 36 Chambers comparison I made a little earlier in this review. If you like that album I don’t see you disliking this one. I guess the production style is pretty different. El-P’s beats are a little more experimental and electronic than the RZA’s beats, which are grimier. In terms of the overall aesthetic and mood, I’d say 36 Chambers is the better album, but in terms of lyricism this album is far better. There’s really no competition in my opinion. One of the main reasons 36 Chambers was so fun to listen to was because there were so many different MCs, so you never really get a chance to get bored of any of them. This album didn’t really need that tho. They just keep things interesting with fantastic lyricism. I think I like Vast Aire a little more than Vordul Mega, but it’s not like Vordul was getting outshined on every track. I’m really having a hard time choosing a favorite song. Honestly I’m really having a hard time choosing a least favorite song as well. I don’t even know what else to say. It’s just 70 minutes of dope production and top-notch lyricism. I definitely fuck with this shit. This album is dope af.

Favorite Song: Stress Rap

Least Favorite Song: The F Word

Verdict:

93%

VERY HOTTTTT

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