Vast Aire’s “Battle of the Planets”

It was only a matter of time. Vast Aire, Cage and El-P have traded barbs all summer on their respective MySpace pages. Now, Vast Aire has finally responded with a Cage dis, “Battle of the Planets.” The “video” for the battle track compiles scenes from the anime classic Gatchaman, known in the States as Battle of the Planets.

Vast Aire has alleged for years that he wasn’t treated fairly by Definitive Jux; it’s the reason why a Cannibal Ox sequel has never happened. But this beef (at least publicly) began with a MySpace post from Cage, which was posted on May 25.

Cage began with a tribute to the late Tero “Camu Tao” Smith, his former partner in the Nighthawks and the Weathermen, who passed a year ago that day. Then, Cage wrote, “It bothered me very much to see a lot of his enemies claiming this Love they had for him the day after he passed but none when he was dying for a year and a half. Some of you made it right with him before he died. I can understand except one person and in honor of Tero a true shit starter and fire ignitor [sic] I would like to out VAST AIRE you are a LIAR and Camu hated you and you know it.” He claimed that Camu “ousted” Vast from the Weathermen.

Hours later, perhaps realizing his foolishness at taking his beef public just before dropping his major, emo-punk affair Depart From Me, Cage removed the section dissing Vast and apologized. “I am deleting this section. I was extremely angry this morning and lashed out.” Then he wrote to Vast, “I attacked you unsolicited and I should have let it be. I miss Camu that much.”

Besides a few cryptic “mood” updates (one of which read “Fuck Cage!”), Vast Aire didn’t respond until a month later, when he posted a rambling interview with himself. “AT THE END OF THE DAY IF CAMU HATED ME, WHY IS HIS RIGHT HAND MAN {METRO} CLOSE FRIENDS WITH ME AND IS ON MY NEW LP?” he wrote. “METRO IS PROOF THAT ME AND CAMU WERE GOOD, HOW ELSE DID I GET MY BEATS FOR MIGHTY JOSEPH {BLOOD SPORT PROD BY CAMU!} THE ONLY LIARS AND CROOKS HERE ARE THESE EMO BITCHES!” He then revealed that he had a “secret” track where Camu disses Definitive Jux and El-P.

Days after Vast Aire’s “interview,” El-P posted an essay on his MySpace page. He didn’t address Vast’s claims of financial irregularity, and only took a few shots at Vast, instead striking a tone of regret over their broken friendship. “I don’t have any interest in trying to make anyone see things the way the way I see them or arguing about/defending the past,” he wrote. “I don’t want to hurt or destroy you. You were my friend. I wanted you to succeed. Now I just find you to be a sad character. Twisted, angry and resentful and squandering your time on mean spirited pursuits. Its depressing.”

All of these posts have since been deleted.

Now Vast Aire hits with “Battle of the Planets.” Produced by Brotherhood 303 from Vast’s LXG crew, it takes its opening cues from Cannibal Ox’s “A B-Boys Alpha.” “Cats wanna act like we didn’t blow up they whole label. What’s that about?” says Vast. “Emo thugs with pink shirts on.” He doesn’t call out El-P directly, but he spends an entire verse lodging homophobic jokes at Cage.”He ain’t a roughneck/He pussy like Kotex/So go fetch/You 3rd Bass reject.” “Battle of the Planets” sounds like an attempt to reclaim the Can Ox legacy; during the video he shows an ad for his next album, Ox 2010.

Maybe Cage will come back with something equally amusing. Who knows? Unfortunately, The Cold Vein came out eight years ago (!). All of this stuff is, to use Can Ox parlance, just pigeons picking over crackers.

Last year, Vast Aire really impressed me with his solo album and Mighty Joseph; it sounded as if he’d finally grown out of his backpack thug phase into something less insular and more vivid, offering punchy raps without the comic book references and painterly scenes of urban squalor. I’d much rather hear that than detritus from a scene that doesn’t exist anymore.

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