The Cold Vein

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The Cold Vein
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 15, 2001 (2001-05-15)
GenreHip hop
LabelDefinitive Jux
Cannibal Ox chronology
The Cold Vein
Blade of the Ronin

The Cold Vein is the debut studio 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. The album has since been reissued by iHipHop Distribution.


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 reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Alternative Press8/10[2]
The Boston Phoenix3.5/4 stars[3]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[8]
Uncut5/5 stars[10]

The Cold Vein was well received 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 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 wrote, "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.[11] 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."[12]


The Cold Vein landed on many 'best of 2001' lists and even some best of the decade.[13] Online music magazine Pitchfork placed The Cold Vein at number 152 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s.[14] Rhapsody ranked the album #5 on its "Hip-Hop's Best Albums of the Decade" list.[15] Fact named it the best indie hip hop ever made.[16] HipHopDX listed it among 30 best underground hip hop albums since 2000.[17]

Instrumental version[edit]

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."

After many years of speculation,[18] a follow up album, Blade of the Ronin, was finally released on March 3, 2015.[19]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are produced by El-P

1."Iron Galaxy"5:56
2."Ox Out The Cage" (featuring El-P)3:28
3."Atom" (featuring Alaska and Cryptic One of Atoms Family)5:52
4."A B-boy's Alpha" (scratches by DJ paWL)4:27
5."Raspberry Fields"4:01
6."Straight Off the D.I.C."4:17
8."The F-Word"5:27
9."Stress Rap" (scratches by DJ Cip One)5:31
10."Battle For Asgard" (featuring C-Rayz Walz and L.I.F.E. Long)4:26
11."Real Earth" (scratches by DJ Cip One)3:57
12."Ridiculoid" (featuring El-P)4:46
15."Scream Phoenix"5:05
Total length:73:45

Album singles[edit]

Single cover
"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


  1. ^ Samuelson, Sam. "The Cold Vein – Cannibal Ox". AllMusic. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  2. ^ "Cannibal Ox: The Cold Vein". Alternative Press (159): 87. October 2001.
  3. ^ Endelman, Michael (May 31 – June 7, 2001). "Cannibal Ox: The Cold Vein (Def Jux)". The Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  4. ^ J-23 (3 September 2001). "Cannibal Ox – The Cold Vein". HipHopDX. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  5. ^ Chick, Stevie (July 28, 2001). "Cannibal Ox : The Cold Vein". NME. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  6. ^ Dare, Christopher (May 15, 2001). "Cannibal Ox: The Cold Vein". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  7. ^ Caramanica, Jon (September 13, 2001). "Cannibal Ox: The Cold Vein". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  8. ^ Ryan, Chris (2004). "Cannibal Ox". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 137. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  9. ^ Drumming, Neil (June 2001). "Cannibal Ox: The Cold Vein". Spin. 17 (6): 148–52. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  10. ^ "Cannibal Ox: The Cold Vein". Uncut (51): 108. August 2001.
  11. ^ "Feed me Good Tunes – "I Play My Cadence"". Archived from the original on March 30, 2007. Retrieved March 17, 2007.
  12. ^ Mueller, Gavin (September 1, 2003). "Cannibal Ox – The Cold Vein – Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  13. ^ "The Cold Vein on". Retrieved March 17, 2007.
  14. ^ Pitchfork staff (September 28, 2009). "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 200-151". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 1, 2009.
  15. ^ "Hip-Hop's Best Albums of the Decade" Archived 2012-09-24 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  16. ^ Piyevsky, Alex; Twells, John; Raw, Son; Rascobeamer, Jeff; Geng (25 February 2015). "The 100 best indie hip-hop records of all time". Fact. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  17. ^ "The 30 Best Underground Hip Hop Albums Since 2000". HipHopDX. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  18. ^ Lipshutz, Jason. "Cannibal Ox Returns: Inside The 'Cold Vein' Follow-Up". Billboard.
  19. ^ Walsh, Peter (February 2, 2015). "Cannibal Ox Featuring MF Doom "Iron Rose"". XXL.

External links[edit]