It’s been about three years since we last heard from Company Flow. Back in ’97 it dropped Funcrusher Plus, then in ’98 it dropped the “End To End Burners” 12″, and in ’99 it dropped El-P’s partner-in-rhyme, Big Jus. Now it’s 2001 and Co Flow is back with a new label, a posse and a seven-song taste of what’s to come.
From the very beginning you can tell that El-P and Mr. Len subscribe to the belief “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In short, the sound is hard, grimy and completely un-danceable – and that should be enough for old Company Flow fans. El-P rushes through margin-defying lyrics while concocting his trademark loud, banging beats. Mr. Len scratches his way to the forefront on “Simian D,” ripping apart the famous Biz Markie yelling break.
As nice as it is to hear Company Flow again, the highlights of the album come from Cannibal Ox and Aesop Rock. Ox emcees Vast and Vordul tear El-P’s beats to shreds, especially on “Iron Galaxy,” where the tandem breaks down inner-city politics in one line and busts battle lyrics in the next. Aesop Rock travels near the same course he took on his last three albums with self-composed production and complicated verbiage.
Def Jux Presents … is a resoundingly successful rebound from Co Flow’s recent absence from the scene, as well as proof that it has an eye for talent. “The fire in which you burn slow” is turning into a bonfire.