Cannibal Ox, The Cold Vein
The enduring idea of a hip-hop underground relies on our faith in the entrepreneurial spirit. Nobody wants a boss, and this is part of what compelled El-P to leave Rawkus in the late 1990s and form his own label, Definitive Jux, future home of Aesop Rock, Cage, Mr. Lif, Murs and others. He poured himself into the label’s first album, the debut from Harlem rappers Vast Aire and Vordul Mega. The Cold Vein remains an outlier classic, El-P channeling his inner Eno, and Vast and Vordul looking up from their comic books and imagining their escape from the present might come in the form of teleportation.