"Let your pants sag, but your thoughts gotta pull up..."
I know MF Doom gets a lot of love around these parts. Obviously, Ta-Nehisi's a big fan. I am, as well. Still, the constellation of indie-hop burns bright beyond the masked Villain. I'd like to call attention to the dimming of a once-white-hot star cluster. The first week of this month, producer-MC-hothead-personality El-P (formerly of Company Flow) announced that he will be essentially shutting down Definitive Jux, the ten-year-old label he founded that was home to such bizarro world rap acts as Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, and El-P himself. As a big fan of all of the aforementioned, I was quite saddened to hear it.
Sure, the Jux is no longer what it once was. Cannibal Ox broke up years ago. Some of El-P's recent signings failed to live up to their promise (Dizzy Rascal, Del The Funkee Homosapien). And the label's forays into different styles of music may seem ill-advised in hindsight. But the last Aesop Rock album was, to my mind, remarkable. Re-releasing Cool Calm Pete's solo project was evidence that El-P still has great taste. And, no matter what, there's no discounting the label's many ground-breaking releases, like Cannibal Ox's angular, angst-ridden, and shockingly brilliant Cold Vein. (Fortunately, Def Jux's back catalog will still be available through the label.)
So, in salute to the passing of Def Jux, a little of this right here: