Dude would probably give me some shit for what I am about to say, considering that Vast Aire, one third of the awesome Cannibal Ox, is not longer dropping albums on Def Jux. However, the fingerprints of EL-P are very much a part of his most recent album Deuces Wild. It goes two ways though, this I see now, a year after EL-P dropped I’ll Sleep When Your Dead. It’s unmistakable to me now, just how much influence The Cold Vein truly had on these two giant rappers, who are some of the undisputed kings of New York rap.
Vast Aire however, has arrived in a major way. Now, more than ever he lives up to his name. His voice on this album is HUGE and takes over throughout 13 songs. He overpowers and overshadows his guests, muffles the beats and music and for 47 minutes dominates the air in the room. And it’s not just studio trickery or over zealous mastering, though the production is phenomenal. Vast Aire just explodes into the microphone and puts every essence of his large being into his rhymes.
Right out of the gate he makes me long even harder for a new Cannibal Ox CD. His ode to J-Dilla, “You Know (You Like It)” feels so much like EL-P manned the helms. It’s intro is spaced out and wacky and Vast drops a half whisper (for him) into the mic before he flows madly over the giant reverb beat. The track is the only on the set produced by Le Parasite, and it’s a shame because it’s such a stand out song, that even though this album is strong, I would love to see what else this pair could do. Of course Vast kicks it out lyrically jacking out, “Come on dude/I perfected rap/You aint did shit/you perfected crap/It’s like we graduated and you left back,” as if he was battle rapping anyone who ever picked up a mic.
There are so many great lines too, which one just expects from such an offbeat and eccentric artist. Vast Aire loves language, he’s not just witty. He’s out to have fun, to say things that catch you off guard. My favorite line comes in the song “The Crush,” which is a topic that Vast has playfully touched in the past quite frequently. But when he drops, “Pink cookies in a plastic bag getting crushed by the Empire STATE” I mean I lose that shit. On “Shu (The God of Aire)” he kills the best chorus in hip hop to date letting you know that he, “used to out do cats like you in my lunch period, they conversed with a burning bush about a period.” This song, sitting at the end of the album is sorely misplaced at 12 of 13, being perhaps one of the strongest songs Vast has dropped to date.
Vast Aire is larger then Hip Hop. He’s Hip Hop in the truest sense of the genre, making language into art, making art into language and twisting things back and forth and all over the place. While I greatly appreciated Look Mom…No Hands as the work of an artist breaking out of the mold imposed by the public, I am psyched to see Vast working with producers that reach back into that bag a little bit. I can’t help but think that this album is the foreshadow of another Cannibal Ox album, which is not to say that this isn’t strictly Vast Aire. But I can see Deuces Wild being both influenced by Vast’s past and the work of an artist continuing to move forward, getting bigger while everyone else steps back.