The name Year of the OX might have come up earlier at some point. But I wasn’t really introduced to them fully until I saw them live in Oakland supporting Dumbfoundead. From that show, I realized that there are tons of East Coast artists that I may be missing. If YOX is any indication of what’s on that side of the United States, there’s a lot to discover. As YOX is the first official release from the duo, their initial introduction is one of the strongest I’ve ever heard.
Starting off with “YOX” featuring DJ Zo, it’s obvious that this music is a window into personal experiences. There’s are interesting stories told over the verses. Going back and forth, “YOX” feels longer than four minutes. This flows throughout most of the EP. Tracks have a weight and depth that stick in your mind. I like how the tracks are intimate and tell fresh perspectives. There’s nothing about problems you can’t relate to, the work of a day job in “Check 2 Check” can speak to everyone.
Personally my favorite song is “Stampede.” It’s partially the beat and samples, but mainly it’s just how Year of the OX can flow over the beat. Songs aren’t a copy/past beat follow, both manipulate the beat with a laser precision. Also the chorus is simply excellent. There’s so much to enjoy on YOX. These seven songs prove that it doesn’t matter where you live, with the right people amazing music can be created. If you’re going to listen to one song, I think “Hajima” might be one of the best to start with. It’s right in the middle of the EP, so people might miss it, but it has one of the best mix manipulations by moving from left to right during the verse.
I like Hip-hop, but don’t closely follow it unless it’s a recommendation. But after seeing Year of the OX live, I think they deserve so much more attention. They’re producing music as good as anything coming from South Korean Hip-hop, possibly even better. YOX needs as many people possible listening to it.