Sitting on stacks of music is something I struggle with, especially when it’s rhyming over one of my favorite beats in the overlooked Def Jux catalogue. Then again, with El-P dropping his new album today, we figured what better time than the present to unleash this track over one of his most subterranean primal beats.
The original “Life’s Ill” by Cannibal Ox featuring Breeze Brewin was released on the daft maxi-single for The F Word, which featured RJD2’s landmark remix for the song where Vast Aire got the hand from an sweet lil’ honey dip in Harlem. “Life’s Ill” never popped up anywhere else — it was a song recorded supposedly after Vordul Mega got jumped and beaten up badly by an overzealous fan who had loose ties with members of the Demigodz. Throw in Juggaknot anchor and Weathermen affiliate Breeze Brewin and you have the makings of a stand out b-side. Def Jux was absolutely on fire when this originally dropped in 2001, and Cannibal Ox was cementing a one-album legacy with The Cold Vein. This song has been so forgotten that when I googled searched “Life’s Ill” all I got was results for Red Cafe’s “I’m Ill”. Atoms Fam is not amused.
Curly Castro and I decided to blow the dust off my old maxi-single CD and go to work on this instrumental. Plus Castro is one of 39 confirmed diehard fans of Vordul Mega on the eastern seaboard. And I wanted to add another “freestyle” track to the docket under the Shadowboxers name since we covered J Dilla’s “King”. I know Douglas Martin co-signs any song paying homage to the guys who wrote “Straight off the D.I.C.”