The Apocalypse is Here: Enter itschewbac with Cannibal Ox

11 12 2010

Enter itschewbac fresh off the eating of some beautiful French toast topped with homemade whipped cream. Mmmm. Smooth. Now time to share the love…

I’d like to think I’m an invaluable source of listen-worthy music; anything from the realm of old twangy country to a planetary-themed orchestral opus. This being said, there’s so much music out there, I usually employ my controversial 30 second strategy to weed out the boring, the un-amusing, the bad. The use of this filtering strategy still leaves hundreds of thousands of hours of goose-bump inducing music. Trust me. After more than 14 years of obsessing, I’m still sifting through the later half of the 1960’s. Today however, I’m not going to be predictable or write about a genre that I can say with confidence  I know. Nope. I’m going out on a limb. A metaphorical limb that finds itself stretched out from the rare, scraggly city tree in Harlem circa 2001. This limb on this tree may feel a bit unfortunate, having only half a square foot of dirt surrounding it’s base, but it just so happens that this tree is in front of the equally small apartment of the Definitive Jux founder/record producer/artist known as El-P. Enter the hip hop duo Cannibal Ox.

This duo, made up of Harlem-raised artists, Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, recorded their album, The Cold Vein, in El-P’s apartment. I’m impressed and you should be too if you’ve ever visited a real person’s apartment in New York City.

The Cold Vein 2001 Definitive Jux

This is an amazing album. I’ve never heard anything like it. It’s a straight shot to the psyche. An instant bob-the-head with subtlety up and down. A drive your car around at night with one hand on the wheel album. I’m not one to go on and on about albums using adjectives from my high school SAT study guide or anything but sometimes I should. The album features vocals about as harsh as DMX’s  minus the uh… ridiculous. It’s laced with the space-age quality of Deltron and is indeed “abstract”. I read that term somewhere and liked it.

Abstract.

It seems to allow this album to exist on its own plane and makes me miss my record player that is holed up in my ex-roommate’s girlfriend’s apartment somewhere in Brooklyn. Cannibal Ox is just that cool and worthy of telling you about ten years after the fact. yessiree.

This album sews in samples from the most surprising of sources, anything from the 80’s sentimental drama, The Big Chill to the sultry vocals of the one, Reverend Al Green. They rhyme about politics, life in Harlem, and unrequited love, making me wish I’d been open to listening to hip hop back in the 2001. The clincher of all of this enthusiasm is that me and the hip hop world are pretty sure that these guys aren’t puttin’ anymore music out under the guise of Cannibal Ox. Did they do as their alias implies?…Eat their own kind with what I’ve heard an Ox is, a street euphemism for a sharp blade?

Why are there so many groups that don’t make it to the second album?  This state of mourning led me to do some sleuthing about on the intranets only to be blessed with a time warp of a documentary featuring Vast Aire and Mordal Vega taking it easy, smoking a fatty in El-P’s apartment. This clip starts out in some Germanic language subtitles just post 9-11 with El-P telling us the Apocolypse is nigh.

“We’re gonna die”

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