Comprising the Harlem duo Vast Aire and Vordul Megilah, Cannibal Ox debuted in 2001 on the Def Jux label with The Cold Vein, produced by El-P. A couple of singles, "Vein" and "The F Word," accompanied the album's release. The Cold Vein was critically adored, with U.K. style magazine The Face calling it the hip-hop album of the year, while The Wire stated it was the best album of its genre for a long time. Oxtrumentals, an album of El-P's Cannibal Ox soundscapes, arrived in early 2002, and the live album Return of the Ox: Live at CMJ followed in 2005. While they never officially broke up, it took until 2012 for the duo to reunite and announce the creation of new music. Evidence arrived a year later when the Gotham EP appeared, then the album Blade of the Ronin landed in 2015. It featured production from Bill Cosmiq plus guest appearances from MF Doom, eLZhi, and U-God.