CANNIBAL OX: Life Remains Ill

NOTE: Sometimes life might kill...
Recently the good people over at T.R.O.Y. provided a fine collection of Cannibal Ox rarities. To my delight the compilation featured "Life's Ill", which happens to be one of my favorite b-sides EVER. The song's title is a tool I often employ to justify an array of dilemmas, ranging from human malevolence to systematic inequality. Whenever something unjust occurs, the appropriate response is almost certainly "Life's Ill".

Cannibal Ox - Iron Galaxy

The phrase "Life's Ill" was first introduced by Vordul Mega on "Iron Galaxy". At the turn of the century this song appeared on Def Jux's roll out maxi single, and eventually found a home on the cult classic Cold Vein. Vordul is under the impression everyone within shouting distance is well aware of the epic corruption he encounters routinely. This assumption reflects in his verse, which consists of a dense succession of concerns for his community. Vast Aire's approach is less abstract, as he chooses to speak to foreigners in layman terms and provide concrete examples supporting the illness of life. Battered wives, molested children, and rodent infested living quarters serve as exhibits alpha, beta, and charlie, respectively.

Vast Aire & Breeze Brewin - Life's Ill

Although "The F Word" is easily my least favorite song on Cold Vein, the single contained some of the most satisfying b-sides I've ever purchased—"Metal Gear" and "Life's Ill". The latter featured Cannibal Ox's better half trading bars with The Juggarknot's front man. The duo are no longer content with being victims, but rather purveyors of ill living to inferior competition.

Cannibal Ox & Breeze Brewin - Life's Ill Part 2

Believe it or not, Vast Aire's first solo album wasn't too shabby. In retrospect Kramer assembled an impressive underground production line-up for Look Ma' No Hands. Most notably Madlib contributed the title track and "Life's Ill Part 2". While I prefer the earlier editions, Brewin's verse may be my favorite of the entire trilogy, and 2001: A Space Odyssey references are always welcomed. Unfortunately, this was the last effort from any of these artists I even remotely gave a fuck about. Life is indeed ill.


  1. The Cold Vein is one of the best albums to come out of Def Jux

  2. Yeah, to me Cold Vein was the absolute best Def Jux album. Smashy Trashy (SA Smash) is my next favorite.

  3. The Cold Vein is one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time in my eyes and the best Def Jux projects next to Labor by Aesop Rock