Vast Aire, like others before him, suffers from this reality of nostalgia: with p-n-c Vordul Mega, and El-P behind the boards, Vast helped create the abstracted outer-world poetic shrapnel of The Cold Vein. The thing is Vast has actually carved out a highly respectable solo catalogue since, and it’s his “fans” who have failed to let go, while he linked up with new talent and made some damn good rap music. Unfortunately, Ox 2010: A Street Odyssey (Vast’s third solo album & sixth total) registers near the bottom of his discography.
Whether A Street Odyssey is supposed to be a concept record is unclear, and after a very unnecessary (and long) intro, things begin with the face-crunching single “Nomad”. Here, Vast is in top form with couplets like “even though I do yoga / I ain’t never been a poser”, but then things quickly deteriorate. Through the first half of the album the beats are languid and the rhyme under-inspired. “2090 (So Grimy)” even sports a hook that says “we so grimy / you so 2009, we so 2090 / you’re so behind me (x4)”; WTF. Luckily, by the time “Horoscope” comes into play, things get better. “Horoscope” is a nice change in sound for Vast (soft and romantic with hard edges), while he ruminates about his significant other. Then there is the noir of “Dark Matter (Kali)” that nicely captures all the esoteric new age philosophy through the prism of street experiences Vast has been spitting for a decade.
By its end, 2010: A Street Odyssey actually ends very strongly with song like “Spy vs. Spy”, “The Verdict” featuring Guilty Simpson, and “Battle of the Planets” featuring Genesis. The latter captivates as it summons the ghost of Cold Vein epic “Scream Phoenix”, even lifting the hook, as Vast and Genesis trade note-worthy bars. All in all Vast Aire’s latest effort would’ve made for a great EP, but ultimately it ends up as a very uneven LP. Fans should definitely give this record a listen, but would do even better to check his previous solos Look Mom… No Hands and the criminally slept on Deuces Wild.