Vast Aire

Vacating the dense alien space station of Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein, rapper Vast Aire falls back to his native New York with a laundry list of goals obtainable. After copping the latest Nikes and visiting his moms (in that order), the formidable and disgruntled Lobo dials the right numbers to launch a solo career. Like RZA with his runaway Wu-Tang Clan, producer and chief influent El-P is left untapped in Vast's Rolodex, left to observe a disciple's growing pains from a visionary boardroom far far away.

As the saying goes, not everyone is meant to venture far from home. Look Mom ... No Hands finds Vast roaming provincial streets with a believable fuck-you attitude that should sound thematically familiar (girls, drugs, power) to 50 Cent fans. Ironically it will toss many of the Def Jukies rocking Cannibal Ox T-shirts in their cubicles off his orbit, but that is exactly the point. For, unlike the indie rap laughingstock that was SA Smash, his persona and signature delivery, a slow heavy metal flex slouched in shotgun enunciation, is perfect for rendering thug effigy as well as the quasar politico-speak he's often associated with.

So it is unfortunate Vast is still aiming his crosshairs at lesser targets like 7L rather than going after the big boys whose stature he so clearly relates to, often imitating their style complete with back-up R&B vocalists (!) to parlay the connection. With a formidable trench of producers and collaborators, including RJD2, Madlib, MF Doom, and Aesop Rock -- each of whom now garners respect at each "level" of hip-hop -- why draw enemy lines according to units moved? Otherwise, why not just listen to Clipse since really, there's little difference between the two and the message in their music?

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Hunter Stephenson