7 November, 2004@12:00 am
So often in hip-hop a group or MCs’ debut album proves to be unsurpassable in their careers. Cannibal Ox’s 2001 debut, The Cold Vein, left such a meteoric impact on the underground that it’s going to be damn near impossible to create an even bigger impression. Earlier this year, Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox dropped his solo debut, which overall didn’t leave many fans and critics that excited. Now that Vordul Mega (the other half of Can Ox and Atoms Family rep) has a solo effort to his name, he is likely to leave fans of the Cold Vein happier than his partner in rhyme. The Revolution of Yung Havoks may be without El-P’s patent production, but a host of lesser-known yet skilled producers join Vordul as he delivers a consistent street-wise album.
Instead of constantly kicking generic battle raps like many in the underground do, Vordul opts to keep his subject matter full of captivating tales of surviving life in his hood of Harlem. But there is little of mention of Harlem by name as Vordul’s universal rhymes transcend neighborhood and city boundaries and reach out to anyone in the struggle. While not nearly as revolutionary as his fellow Harlem rep Immortal Technique, Vordul doesn’t just report what he sees on a daily basis: he calls for action. On “Hell Yeah” he clearly expresses how there is life outside of the ghetto and people can and should escape the trap that is the system. As he raps on this track: “We want more area to speak–our individual piece/ Everybody needs some of the pie or else we’re gonna see it as unfair/ Have us take it back to Indians throwing the spear.” Complimented by the mostly dark soundscapes of Belief, Dev 1 and others, Vordul aptly keeps things grimy but not without a sense of optimism. As the booming opening cut “Neva Again” communicates, despite all the overwhelming hurt many in the struggle face, there is hope for better days.
With only a handful of featured affiliates here (C Rayz Walz, Karnage, Jean Grae and Vast Aire), The Revolution of Yung Havoks is an overdue showcase of Vordul’s abilities on the mic. Sure, “Handle That” featuring Vast Aire will leave many Cannibal Ox fans yearning another group project, but let’s face it: there will never be another Cold Vein. If people can embrace this, it will be much easier to enjoy Vordul’s debut, even if El-P’s beats are nowhere to be found here. Through his solo debut, Vordul Mega uses hip-hop as a means to escape his pressure cooker-like environment, thus leaving heads with an album that’s more often than not an engaging listen.
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