Cannibal Ox – Cold Vein
No matter where I am on the face of this earth, Cold Vein immediately transports me to New York City. Cracked pavement, clenched teeth, balled up fists, asteroids colliding; There are a million images that come to mind when I think of this album, but as the pinnacle of both Vordul Mega and Vast Aire’s rhyming abilities, Cold Vein is a gust of cold wind that makes you shiver from the opening sample of The Big Chill.
El-P’s ear-crunching drums sound like robots trampling buildings, Vordul sounds dementedly possessed (rumor has it that he freestyled a majority of his verses off the dome), and Vast floats constant quotables over the entire project. It’s perhaps the zenith of Def Jux’s reign over underground hip-hop as the harbor of stony, metallic rap until Kanye and friends threw a backpack on the whole thing a short time later. An undeniable classic in more ways than one, Cold Vein is that icy hint of blue that the little green Spotify icon is in sore need of.
(Bonus: if you bought the physical CD you know all about the hidden final track as well.)