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[Off The Record]
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Cannibal Ox
THE COLD VEIN
(DEF JUX)

Cannibal Ox have the cure to underground hip-hopís current malaise. Not just a low-rent imitation of chart-topping thugs or a kneejerk reaction to jiggy hip-hopís conspicuous consumption, this Harlem duo (Vordul Megilah and Vast Aire) balance streetwise lyrics, aggro b-boy attitude, and progressive thought on their full-length debut. Discovered by El-P, the MC/producer from recently disbanded indie-rap heroes Company Flow, Cannibal Ox create music firmly in the tradition of their mentor ó aggressively uncommercial hip-hop that is all jagged edges, distorted beats, and dense, wordy flow. Half the fun is listening to Vordul and Vast cook up new ways to say " you suck " : " The sampleís the flesh/The beat is the skeleton/You got beef, but thereís worms in your Wellington/Iíll put a hole in your skull and extract the gelatin, " Vast threatens on " Raspberry Fields. " But hidden within this brutal, cold world are nuggets of bittersweet wisdom: " Boy meets world/Of course his pops is gone/What you figure?/That chalky outline on the ground is a father figure, " they lament on " Iron Galaxy. " El-P cooks up beats that sound like Giorgio Moroderís soundtrack to Scarface put through a meat grinder, so even Cannibal Oxís love songs ( " The F-Word " ) sound more like horror stories.

BY MICHAEL ENDELMAN

Issue Date: May 31 - June 7, 2001





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