An air of mystique surrounds the careers of Harlemites Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, collectively known as Cannibal Ox. Fourteen years after earning their status as luminaries of underground hip-hop, Cannibal Ox is set to release the highly-anticipated sophomore album, Blade of the Ronin. Serving as the follow-up to the duo's acclaimed debut album, Blade of the Ronin is the embodiment of Vast and Vordul's years of creation and properly serves to provide listeners with the grimy yet futuristic soundscape that they've come to expect from Cannibal Ox.
In 2001, Cannibal Ox released its debut album, The Cold Vein, which remains one of the seminal works of the New York hip-hop scene. Regarded as a cult classic amongst hip-hop purists, The Cold Vein has been ranked as #152 on Pitchfork’s “Top 200 Albums of the 2000s” list. Not surprisingly Pitchfork previously concluded, "The Cold Vein is going to be on everybody's year end list of the best underground hip-hop," and that it was, as the album received perfect ratings from publications such as Stylus Magazine and HipHopDX. In November 2014, The Village Voice ranked the track "Pigeon" from The Cold Vein #22 on its All-Time Top 40 Songs About New York list ("Big Apple Records"). The Voice went on to praise The Cold Vein, remarking, "the early-2000s underground hip-hop scene in New York offered a hyper-experimental take on the culture’s foundations, with the location of the genre’s birthplace giving these creations instant credibility. One of the best results came in the form of Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein."
Since the success of The Cold Vein, Cannibal Ox has largely maintained their independent, enigmatic persona, shying away from the glowing heat of the mainstream limelight. In 2005, the duo released Return of the Ox: Live at CMJ, a live album recorded at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York, but otherwise remained relatively off the radar as a collective with exception of Vast and Vordul appearing on each other's solo endeavors. In 2013, Cannibal Ox re-emerged with a maxi-single entitled Gotham, which included three tracks produced by a widely unknown yet remarkably talented producer by the name of Bill Cosmiq. Upon listening to the project's title track, fans were taken aback by how the duo still sounded in its prime. As Spin Magazine declared, "while it doesn't sound like a day has passed since Vein, Vast and Vordul were always spitting from the future." Gotham would go on to be re-released as a Deluxe LP Edition along with the first reissue of The Cold Vein in nearly a decade as part of Cannibal Ox’s partnership with iHipHop Distribution.
Blade of the Ronin solidifies the triumphant return of Cannibal Ox as the kings of underground hip-hop, as Vast and Vordul capture their trademark sound with Bill Cosmiq at the helm for the majority of the album’s production. Together, this trio has created an album that personifies a sense of insightful lyricism and poignant production that has arguably been absent from the scene since The Cold Vein. The album also features tremendous guest appearances from MF Doom, U-God (of Wu-Tang Clan), Elzhi, Artifacts and more, all of whom compliment the vibe of Can Ox. Blade of the Ronin is in stores now via IGC Records / iHipHop Distribution