With today’s news that pioneering hip-hop label Def Jux is going on hiatus, I figured now is a good time to highlight the one track that put this label on the map for me. Fittingly, it’s the first track off of their first record release, Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein. “Iron Galaxy” immediately caught my ear as something different thanks to El-P’s incredibly dense production, all futuristic and cold and industrial like something a lone astronaut stranded in some abandoned, decaying space station would compose.
And then there are the rhymes: Vordul Mega’s lyrics are all but incomprehensible to me, but Vast Aire has a few lines that have always stuck with me: “You were a stillborn baby/Mother didn’t want you but you were still born” early in his turn, and later, this amazingly bleak depiction of the city:
Battered wives, molested children
Roaches on the floor, rats in the ceiling
Cats walk around New York with two fillin’s
One is in the mouth, the other does the killin’
Also there is a genius mean/median/mode reference for all the math geeks out there. Priceless.