There’s an inherent nostalgia to Vast Aire’s OX 2010: A Street Odyssey. Not only does the title strategically allude to his seminal debut, The Cold Vein (as part of duo Cannibal OX with Vordul Mega), but the 15-track LP’s aggressive boom-bap backdrop and sinister cypher rhymes harken the days when street records ran the airwaves. At it’s best, it’s refreshing.
“This is the kind of life I live / We gonna put you to sleep and take your rib / We gonna fondle your wife in front of your kids,” raps Vast Aire over Kount Fif’s brolic snare on “The Man Of Steel.” Fif delivers again on “Nomad,” mixing a rumbling gem layered lovely with blippy, electronic intonations. It sounds as if it’s designed for teleportation - or at least for disregarding the speed-limit.
Aire’s innate eccentricity and metaphor-loaded lyrical utility belt keeps OX 2010 engaging despite it’s limited contextual range. His Addams Family extended reference on “Merry Go Round” - a Surock-produced soundtrack to VA’s twisted carnival - is a bit sloppy. But his Incredible Hulk/Deon Sanders flip on “Phenom” (produced by Harry Fraud) just may be the album’s finest:
“In the laboratory / Mixing up Gamma / Now my clothes is ready to rip like Banner’s / Now I’m dancing on the yard line like Sanders / Neon / You peon / Your arms is too short / To box / Dream on / You’re like pubic lice / You like to cling-on / ‘Cause I’m something like a Phenomenon.”
Kenyattah Black comes correct on “The Cannons Of Samus.” Raekwon The Chef wrecks shop on “Thor’s Hammer,” also featuring Vordul Mega (this LP’s lone true Cannibal OX reunion). The Ayatollah-laced, Guilty Simpson-assisted, “The Verdict” bangs straight to the soul, and “Dark Matter” is undoubtably the album’s opus.
But undercutting OX 2010’s throwback stance is an unfortunate loquaciousness. He only sincerely veer’s from I’m-nicer-than-you commentary on the obligatory chick-track, “Horoscope,” and again to rehash his super played-out beef with Cage from his Def Jux days (“Battle Of The Planets”). It’s contextually redundant and “2090 (So Grimy)” sounds like a Dipset reject - the combination of which severely jeopardize replay value.
And even with that, OX 2010: A Street Odyssey is a suitable continuation to the Cannibal OX catalog, maintaining the integrity of the brand despite only one appearance by Vordul Mega. Man Bites Dog Records assembled a talented array of under-the-radar producers (sans Ayatollah) that crafted a cohesive sound for Vast Aire’s unapologetic lyrical griminess. Nostalgic or otherwise, it works for right now.