Ask me anything
Just some old stuff… some I dug out of storage… some i just had
l to r: Aesop Rock, Inkwell, Cryptic One (front), Blueprint (middle), Illogic (back), DJ Cip One (front), Alaska (middle), Vast Aire, Kasm… photo taken by Windnbreeze.
This was when Weightless re-released Illogic & Greenhouse albums on CD (previously only on cassette) print asked us all to perform at their release party. And we said fuck yeah and hopped in the van and drove the 10 hours to Columbus, Ohio and chilled with weightless for a few days. Was a real fun and strange trip filled with lots of surreal moments like wind, illogic, and aesop outside of the venue in a cipher trading verses back and forth… wish i had video of that
Picture #2 & 3 is Saga Tetsuo from 1997, which was Alaska & Vordul who were a group before Cannibal Ox was a group. They wrote a bunch of joints but only recorded one that i remember offhand called “Small Sample of Sperm” which was an incredible joint which Vordul co-produced and vordul blacked out for a long 100-120 bar verse. Recorded it in Ozone studios, same studio all the originally co-flow, indelibles, mike ladd, sonic sum, saul williams, etc stuff was recorded in. Alaska later re-used his verse on the song Eff the Heard with me. I think this pic #1 was from an Atoms show we did @ SUNY Purchase but Im not sure honestly. Picture #2 is Saga Tetsuo from the same day but in my old studio
Picture #4 was from the first trip some of the Atoms made out to my place in LI to record. This was from 96 and has some previously unseen atoms. From left to right:
Alaska in the back with the blue jacket
Analytic - who was the 3rd original member of Hangar 18 who at the time was Alaska, Windnbreeze, and Analytic… Analytic was one of my favorite Atoms at the time but he stopped rhyming around 97-98ish when he had a kid (and some other reasons)
Konfucious - from the group outter limits… he appears on the Centa of da Web EP and also appeared on a few other joints from the Atoms Archives. He was definitely one of the most talented atoms back then, ill never forget this song that him and void had where Void told the story of a bombing from the perspective of the bomb and Konfucious told the story from the point of view of the person attempting to diffuse the bomb… shame we never recorded it
MLF - him and Vordul were the youngest Atoms and went to high school together… they drew comics and rhymed together with vast
Vordul - Vordul @16 years old
Picture 5 - l to r Jestoneart, Alaska, and Windnbreeze. This was the night of the Cold Vein mastering session @ the Lodge studio in NYC. Was a pretty epic night with the Cold Vein done and being mastered in a state of the art studio by Emily Lazar who was pretty well known for her mastering and also for her Avalon ads (studio equipment geeks understand and know). This photo was taken at a deli around the corner after being in the studio for hours doing nothing but bullshitting with el, vast, & vordul and playing fooseball. We got a little stir crazy and went to eat. I think this was in December of 2000… maybe January of 2001
Picture #6. This was drawn by Osirus one of the original Atoms Fam members who also drew the Cannibal Ox “Cold Vein” artwork & logo (and appears on the Atoms track Lemmie Atom). Osirus and Vast were originally a group (and also drew comics together) when i met them in 96. The above artwork was for the group me and Alaska formed “IT” and was for a single that never was released
Picture #7. This is up for lol purposes. When I used to rent out studio time back in 93 or so. First lol is that 8trk studio was a pretty big deal back then. 2nd and larger lol is the fact that this was the days of beepers. I remember everyone used to think I was a drug dealer back then because of my pager… hilarious
Picture #8. Just random shit I pulled out of storage yesterday:
Labor Days and Cold Vein vinyl
Poster from an in store performance 4 days after Cold Vein dropped with Aesop, Ox and the rest of Atoms (and El-P came with us to just chill)
Cold Vein poster signed by Vordul, Vast, Cip One, C Rayz, and Aesop… they each traced their hands on it and signed it for some reason…
Random show poster, not sure what city… with me and Hangar
Euphony, Prequel, and Cold Vein CDs still sealed
The original Atoms Fam sticker (maybe not original, there was another one from 96) with DJ Cip’s name misspelled… i remember when we first got these stickers to promote at Scribble Jam 98 maybe 99. Met so many people that trip, Blueprint, Eyedea, Slug, and a billion other people. So many people showed us love out there was really our first times out of state hip hop wise (me and Alaska were the only ones that went).. i remember eydea walking around with atoms stickers stuck all over his rhymesayers t-shirt, RIP Mike. He was only 16 when i first met him so i guess that means it was 98
Vast Aire - Adversity Strikes
Prepare for another long winded Atoms History 101 novel
This was the 2nd or 3rd joint I ever recorded with Vast (first was Lemmie Atom i believe. He came out to the studio with the rhymes already written and the idea for the intro of the track being the Cannonball Adderley intro sample. While recording the verses he thought of the Organized Konfusion “one plus one get it together” hook/sample combined with sampling himself “swinging at my man but got trapped in the Vast nucleus” from Not For Promo. I had the beat already made before he arrived and then I recorded my vocals for the first “Im from the Atoms Fam” part and we ran through his verses pretty quickly. This was back in 97, maybe 96. First released on Persecution of Hip Hop, then later released and remixed on The Prequel.
Some completely useless uninteresting trivia about the song:
my favorite lines from this joint:
Put a muzzle on it… Reality Bites
Im a peaceful cat, but I respect beef like a hindu
Must one fail for another to pass?
Said by a wise man watching a fool pull a mule’s ass
and the line that got the most rewinds and LOLs was “I think hard, like Christopher Wallace with a cheeseburger on his mind in his last minutes”
This was definitely the breakout song that got Vast known in the NYC underground scene at the time
anyways thats all… and here is the remix version from The Prequel
Atoms Family - Adversity Struck (Cryptic One Remix) feat. Vast Aire, Jestoneart, Windnbreeze, Alaska, & Cryptic One
Here is another never released Atoms related joint… well kinda unreleased… as usual with any unreleased joints i let out into the world there is a disclaimer: its unmixed, unmastered, and missing some elements of the beat… including 1 major beat change
(be warned…a long story about the origins of this track follows below… and it will be a boring story to anyone but the die hard Atoms Fam fans)
The story of this track is basically this. Me and vast did a song called Adversity Struck (i produced it)… the song just never clicked so it just kind of sat around and we eventually scrapped it
Embedded Records was putting together a compilation at the time and asked Atoms to get on it. They sent us a beat and vast, alaska, wind and jest came through to record over their beat (Vordul was MIA). Vast didnt have a verse ready to go and couldnt get motivated to write a new one that day so he re-used the first verse from Adversity Struck since the song was scrapped
So anyway everyone laid their verses and when it was my turn to record it was mad late and everyone had to bounce. I never felt the beat that the Embedded guys sent us (sorry jesse) so I remixed it just for the sole purpose of having a different beat to spit on… we sent the song to embedded with their beat and they released the compilation Embedded Joints (i think sometime in 2004 maybe 2003)
So with all that said none of us were feeling the song at all so Vast re-vitalized his original song Adversity Struck and re-used that verse again and you can see him recording the song on the Def Jux Documentary with Jestoneart and the final song is on youtube somewhere… (just search for Vast Aire Adversity Struck 9x9)
Anyways… i said all that to say this… i remixed the embedded joint with all of us on it and this is the remixed version… i never released it because frankly the Jestoneart produced Adversity Struck 9x9 version with just Vast is a much better song in my opinion… but im throwing this out there now because i think wind and alaska kill it and its worth hearing those verses over a beat that i feel is better than the original… the original is on youtube too and i cringe every time i hear it (again sorry jesse if you read this, it is what it is homie)
Cannibal Ox - Metal Gear
This was actually the 1st joint that Cann Ox recorded with EL-P… it didnt fit with the rest of the Cold Vein so they wound up leaving it off the album…
side note and rarely spoken of fact is that Vordul freestyled a good portion of this verse (and others). If you listen to the track when he starts with “im too motherfuckin ill” at the 4:01 mark the rest of the song is off the head
This wasnt a rare thing for Vordul, there are a ton of songs it happened on… Ive seen it firsthand so many times where he is spitting a verse and forgets a line or stumbles over a word and just starts freestyling… so when recording sessions with vordul we always just let him go until he would stop because you never knew what gem was going to happen naturally… and a lot of times we would go back and listen to the freestyle part and just wind up using that take instead of the actual verse he wrote…
off the top of my head (pun intended) another song he freestyled on was Atoms All Stars… everything was written until he said “I shine for allah with mad skills” then the rest of the verse was off the head… on the take we wound up using he kept freestyling for a good 3 or 4 minutes… but to keep the length of the song manageable i cut it off at “fly in the sky live pigeon” and echoed out the word pigeon to make it sound like the end of a verse…. somewhere i have the old version where he just raps for 4 minutes straight… gotta dig that up
yoitshim asked: why waasnt windnbreeze on the cannibal ox atom track?
Im pretty sure wind was finishing up school at New Paltz at the time so he wasnt around, but I could be wrong, it was a long time ago. It could of also been that me and Tim (alaska) were just the most active Atoms at the time and we were always around recording, at shows, etc in those days.
For the official “real answer” you would have to ask Vast and Vordul for the reasoning. A lot of the Atoms songs over the years used to just happen because of whoever happened to be around and able to make it to the studio that day, so it might have just been as simple as that, me and Tim happened to be around and answer the phone when we got the call.
stepfatherfactory asked: When I first heard atom, your verse stood out the most to me. That shit is fucking incredible. No riding intended. Lol
Thanks man… no worries, it isnt riding man, always cool when people are feeling my work… i always liked that verse a lot too but always knew I could have spit it better… it is what it is
Cannibal Ox - Atom ft. Alaska and Cryptic
“Yo, I ain’t superstitious, but these niggas is nice…”
That “Yo I aint superstitious but these niggas is nice…” line was a hat tip to the song we did in 96 or 97 called “Not For Promotional Use” with me, vast and vordul. Technically it was the first recorded song of Cann Ox and originally was released on the double vinyl compilation I put out in ‘98 called “Persecution of Hip Hop”… im sure its on youtube somewhere. I guess you could consider Adversity Strikes as the first true Cann Ox song but it was really a Vast solo song..
The song “Atom” was an interesting recording experience. I wish we had more time to prepare honestly… The Cold Vein was just about finished and Vast and Vordul wanted to get an Atoms track on the album so they called me and Alaska up and we headed to El P’s crib in brooklyn, heard the beat for the first time, and recorded it and bounced. Vordul hadnt even recorded his part yet so it was a pretty sick surprise to get a copy of the final version a few weeks later (Vorduls verse is my favorite on the song)… Alaska came with a verse he already had, and I wrote specifically for the song. It all happened so fast because there were deadlines to hand the album in, but Alaska and I always wished we could have kicked those verses over… it is what it is, and at the time we knew Cold Vein would be pretty big but never foresaw just how big…
Sidenote: just about every lyric site has it wrong and lists Alaska’s verse as mine for some reason… only lyric site that has it right is rapgenius.com because I actually emailed them to correct it
Ambient butterz from the Atoms Fam.
Side note… I made this beat in about 94 or 95… maybe even 93. Originally i rhymed over it, and i scrapped the song… then it wound up in Hangar 18 of Atoms Fams hand and they did a song over it that never got released. A few years later Vast was working on his solo and came through to hear beats. I played this beat accidentally because the ASR-10 disc had a blank label on it and Vast stopped me right there and said “BOOM” and thats the track that wound up as the single and title track.
side note 2: i wasnt really feeling the beat (mainly because it was so old), and was a little upset that I didnt get to play the new tracks I made specifically with Vast in mind. I wound up not mixing the final song (i forget who did the final mix) so the beat sounded different than I originally intended when making it… not complaining at all, just stating the way it was… good times
I remember the day I took this picture. We had just come from a rehearsal space on the west side. Ox was about to go on their first headlining tour if I remember right. We left the spot and walked past this truck that said Oxford Transportation or something and I obviously had to take a picture blocking out the “ford” in oxford.
The pictures were strictly for us at the time, had zero clue that they would eventually end up in magazines and on websites everywhere. The picture was taken sometime in early 2001…. good times