Usually, instrumental hip-hop albums are of limited appeal to most consumers. Without the skillful rhyming of a charismatic MC, even the most artfully constructed beats simply are not especially intriguing to anyone except aspiring rappers looking for beats to rhyme over, and DJs looking for beats to use as segues. But with a handful of producers, instrumental rap LPs can be as compelling as the originals. El-P Presents Cannibal Oxtrumentals compiles the backing tracks from Cannibal Ox's 2001 release, The Cold Vein, and the album's main producer, Def Jux's formidable founder El-P (formerly of Company Flow) reveals himself to be as skillful a producer as the Automator or RZA, and even without Cannibal Ox's vocals, the instrumentals are still worth listening to. Mainly, the album sounds as if it were the soundtrack for an unmade film, much as the work Eno made in the 1970s, since the tracks have a distinct cinematic quality that allows them to cohere and flow beautifully. Furthermore, there are plenty of little touches that emerge that would otherwise be obscured by vocals, such as the electric guitar riffs in "Pigeon," or the cathedral-like organ in "A B-Boy's Alpha." Oxtrumentals serves not only as a worthy companion piece to The Cold Vein, but as a fascinating album in its own right.
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AllMusic Review by Victor W. Valdivia