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The Cold Vein
Studio album by Cannibal Ox
Released May 15, 2001
Recorded 2000
Genre Hip hop
Length 74:12
Label Definitive Jux
Producer El-P
Professional reviews

The Cold Vein is the debut album by American hip hop duo Cannibal Ox. It was produced by El-P and released on his Definitive Jux label on May 15, 2001 (see 2001 in music).



The Cold Vein was the first full-length album to be released on former Company Flow member El-P's newly founded Definitive Jux record label, and its release was preceded by a significant amount of hype, particularly within the hip hop community. In late 2000, a split double vinyl single appeared on Def Jux, containing three new songs by Company Flow and two tracks taken from The Cold Vein: "Iron Galaxy" and "Straight Off The D.I.C." (see 2000 in music). These songs also appeared on the label compilation album Def Jux Presents, released on March 20, 2001. The first single, "Vein", was released in April 2001 with "A B-Boy's Alpha" serving as its b-side. The album was eventually released on May 15, 2001.

Critical Recognition

The Cold Vein was generally received well by critics, drawing many favorable comparisons to the 36 Chambers-era Wu-Tang Clan.

Many praised El-P's production work, with CMJ contributor Brian Coleman writing "Producer El-P, of the now-defunct Company Flow, gives this Harlem-bred and Brooklyn-based vocal duo of Vast Aire and Shamar what usually sounds like a full goth orchestra perched in a dank basement, with thick synth strings, simulated outer-space found-sounds and choppy, pounding drums." Allmusic contributor Jack LV Isles was also impressed by El-P's beats, writing "El-P (a serious candidate for producer of the year) lays out some of the most lushly intriguing sounds and beats that feel as herky-jerky as they sound gilded with silk."

The album was also noted for its profound lyrical content; many critics and fans felt Vast Aire's and Vordul Mega's lyrics painted a vivid picture of a poverty-stricken New York.[1] Gavin Mueller of Stylus Magazine wrote about "The F-Word", a song addressing unrequited love: "Moments like these show not only the skill of Can Ox’s MCs, but the potential for hip hop lyrics to work on as many levels as the finest English poetry."

The Cold Vein landed on many 'best of 2001' lists and even some best of the decade.[2] Online music magazine Pitchfork placed The Cold Vein at number 152 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s.[3] Rhapsody (online music service) ranked the album #5 on its "Hip-Hop’s Best Albums of the Decade" list.[4]

Instrumental version

An instrumental companion to the album entitled El-P Presents Cannibal Oxtrumentals was released on 19 March 2002 on Definitive Jux. Allmusic contributor Victor W. Valdivia wrote "Mainly, the album sounds as if it were the soundtrack for an unmade film, much as the work Eno made in the 1970s, since the tracks have a distinct cinematic quality that allows them to cohere and flow beautifully."


The Cold Vein only broke through to the mainstream on a small level. However, its legacy has grown significantly over the years and the album is today widely considered as one of the best independent hip hop albums of the 2000s as well as perhaps the best album released on Definitive Jux.

Stylus Magazine who, in particular, had already heavily praised the album ranked it #17 on their Top 50 Albums: 2000-2005 link writing, "Vast and Vordul work wonders on the mic, of course—particularly Vast, who steals most of the album's tracks with his charismatic delivery and clever wordplay. But it's the beats that give the album its unique stamp. The muted five-note motif in "Iron Galaxy"'s verses; the wandering keyboard lines and muffled vocal samples in "A B-Boy's Alpha"; the skittering percussion in "Raspberry Fields"; it all works towards making Vast and Vordul's tales of the Big Apple feel more like they're pulled from Day After Tomorrow-era New York than the present-day version."

Track listing

  1. "Iron Galaxy" – 5:56
    • Scratches by Jay Fluid
  2. "Ox Out the Cage" – 3:28
  3. "Atom" – 5:52
  4. "A B-Boys Alpha" – 4:27
  5. "Raspberry Fields" – 4:01
  6. "Straight Off the D.I.C." – 4:17
  7. "Vein" – 4:27
  8. "The F-Word" – 5:27
  9. "Stress Rap" – 5:31
    • Scratches by DJ Cip One
  10. "Battle for Asgard" – 4:26
  11. "Real Earth" – 3:57
    • Scratches by DJ Cip One
  12. "Ridiculoid" – 4:46
    • Featuring El-P
  13. "Painkillers" – 5:58
  14. "Pigeon" – 6:10
  15. "Scream Phoenix" – 5:05
    • Hidden track


Sample information is retrieved from[5]

  • "Iron Galaxy" contains a sample of "Mexican Radio" performed by Wall of Voodoo, "Impeach the President" by The Honey Drippers, and "Leopard Tree Dream" performed by Giorgio Moroder. Also contains a sample of dialogue from the film The Big Chill.
  • "Straight Off The D.I.C." contains a samples of "The Unutterable" by Philip Glass
  • "Raspberry Fields" contains a sample of "Sweaters" by Laurie Anderson, as well as "Cindy Tells Me" and "Some of Them are Old", both by Brian Eno
  • "Vein" contains a sample of dialogue from the Tony Scott film True Romance
  • "The F-Word" contains a sample of "All Night Long" performed by Dexter Wansel
  • "Stress Rap" contains a sample of "Attic Thoughts Wandering" performed by Bo Hansson
  • "Battle For Asgard" contains a sample of "Tambura" performed by Ramsey Lewis and "Astronaut's Nightmare" performed by Nektar
  • "Painkillers" contains a sample of "Love And Happiness" performed by Al Green
  • "Pigeon" contains a sample of "Portrait of Tracy" performed by Jaco Pastorius
  • "Scream Phoenix" contains a sample of "Lady Day" performed by Philip Glass

Album singles

Single cover Single information
  • Released: April 2001
  • Label: Definitive Jux
  • B-Side: "A B-Boy's Alpha"
"The F-Word" (expanded CD and vinyl single)
  • Released: September 2001
  • Label: Definitive Jux
  • B-Side: "The F-Word" (RJD2 remix), "Life's Ill", "Metal Gear"


  • Executive producer: El-P
  • Mastering: Emily Lazar
  • Engineering: Vassos
  • Mixing: Nasa, Phil Painson, Matt Quinn, Vassos
  • Recording: Nasa
  • Art direction: Dan Ezra Lang
  • Design: Dan Ezra Lang
  • Illustrations: Tyson Jones


External links



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