Ok… So for this review I’ve chosen to critique the highly anticipated new Cannibal Ox album, “Blade Of The Ronin”. This rap duo consists of Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, both artists members of The Atoms Family (Refer to my previous review on “Alaska – Alkast”), and before I get into it, I would just like to point out how as an avid underground head, for these three artists from such a juggernaut of a group to release new material so close together is like getting to see the Hayley’s comet of Underground Hip Hop.
After all the years and rumours since Cannibal Ox’s first studio release “Cold Vein” (voted one of the best rap albums for the decade of 2000-2010), I can honestly say I was excited to give this album a listen. The album was dropped on 3 March 2015 by IGC Records and iHipHop Distribution, with one track produced by Black Milk and the rest produced by Bill Cosmiq. I must be honest, I was a little disheartened when I realized El-p wasn’t involved with any of the production on this one.
I pushed play and so the journey began. It’s been so long since I’ve heard this duo that it was almost like catching up with an old friend. Vast Aire and Vordul Mega seem as hungry as they were in 2001 and I’m pleased to say they haven’t compromised their style to try and appeal to the newer generation of Hip Hop listeners, albeit 14 years since their last album. My initial perception of the album was apprehensive but as the beats went on, I found myself boppin my head, one,two…one,two… like a soldier marching in to battle, Bill Cosmiq had some really big shoes to fill and he did it admirably.
The story line of the album compliments the direction of the music, and the more I listened to the album the more I appreciated it. From your old school golden era 80’s/90’s boom bap, to trippy space synths, it’s almost as if their style was more applicable now more than ever. Featuring the likes of Double A.B on “Opposite of Desolate”, Artifacts and U-God on “Blade: The Art of Ox”, Elzhi on “Carnivorous”, Space, Swave Sevah & Elohem Star on “Thunder In July”, Irealz and Bill Cosmic on “Sabertooth”, the man MF Doom on “Iron Rose” and last but not least Quantum on “Vision”. Each feature added their own unique style and flavour to round off a dope album.My favorite track on the album has to go to two of the tracks, each of them dope for their own reasons, I’d have to say “Psalm 82” and “Thunder In July”. I rate this album 3/5 Punchlines.
The return of the Cannibal Ox was never going to live up to their first album, but I don’t think they were trying to make another “Cold Vein”, this was more an exhibition to show how timeless their music really is. They quelled or the naysayers and satisfied the long last craving for their fans. If you REALLY do hip hop, then you got to get this album. Let’s hope their next album won’t take so long to release, I fear I might be outta the cool zone by then.