The Ones That Got Away

"It's a cold world out there.... Sometimes I think I'm getting a bit frosty myself."

Thus begins the conceptual gem from New York undergrounders Cannibal Ox. Capturing the cold, disjointed way of life offered up to many lower-income youth lucky enough to have been born in the Statue of Liberty's shadow, this album reminds us of a hungry hip hop era gone by. Hip hop has successfully found its way from the inner city to the burbs, getting glossier every step of the way. And though MTV may flash images of rappers drinking Mo't and rocking ice, the ghetto kids who gave birth to this art form are for the most part still trapped in the ghetto.

This ghetto, or "The Cold Vein," gave birth to two MCs, Vast Aire and Vordul Megilah, who effortlessly blend true street grit with high-minded intelligence. The lyrics do not immediately come across as overly conceptual, but anyone who gives this album a serious listen will begin to see brilliance hidden within the folds. Themes of birds, metal, and cold pop up again and again, challenging the listener to constantly re-evaluate exactly what is being said. What makes this a classic album, however, is the brilliant production of El P, whose skills occupy a plane other beatsmiths only glimpse in dreams. The beats are cold and mechanical, like the gears of the capitalist machine in which so many are ground up and spit out. Beats, rhymes and creativity combine to form a true work of art.

--Chas Reynolds


Share and discuss “The Ones That Got Away” on social media.