Trying to duplicate the sounds of Can Ox's 2001 classic "The Cold Vein" would be an impossible task for Vast Aire. Thus, his debut solo release "Look Mom No Hands" goes in a different direction, one that most fans will ultimately love or hate. Without El-P behind the boards for his first solo offering, Vast Aire struggles to find consistent production and direction on "Look Mom No Hands". With an excess amount of outside producers and guests appearances, the album never really takes a life of its own, and instead drags the listener around aimlessly.
With most of the tracks being hit or miss, Vast either finds himself hitting a home run on the first pitch or striking out with ease. Examples of such inconsistency include "His Majesty's Laughter", which features a choppy beat that fails to blend with Vast Aire's non existent flow. Similarly the Jake One produced "Viewtiful Flow" finds Vast in a similar situation, as the songs R&B vibe fails to fuse with Vast's lethargic delivery and abstract heavy lingo. Not to mention Vast's dumb downed lyricism with lines such as "I had an ill life, so I got an ill flow, but you already knew that, like the third movie of the matrix was gonna be wack". Some attempts also fail due to undeveloped hooks as well as average production efforts, which is seen on "Candid Cam", "Pegasus" and the thoroughly disappointing Ayatollah produced track "Elixir", which also features an extremely lukewarm verse from Sadat X. And for those wondering about the ongoing Demigodz/Weathermen beef, the RJD2 produced "9 Lashes (When Michael Smacks Lucifer)" is Vast Aire's own attempt at a verbal smack down. Unfortunately, Vast throws some relatively weak jabs at 7L & Esoteric, leaving this feud one of the least inspiring beefs in Hip Hop.
Even though Vast stumbles through some of the material on "Look Mom No Hands", the Harlem native is able to gather some help and rebound nicely, delivering some great attempts. In typical Vast Aire fashion "Krs-Lightly" featuring S.A. Smash, is quirky yet comical attempt that features lines such as, "I wrote a rhyme to a beat sipping a Sam Adams now everybody and they grandma know Adams" and "Ice ice baby lost 18 zeros cause he was absolutely nothing".
More solid guest appearances can be seen on the pairing of Vast & Blueprint on "Zenith", which manages to deliver that vintage Cannibal Ox sound of the past, as the two display nice chemistry, as well as lyrical clinics. Similarly the lyrical gangbang of "Posse Slash" featuring Aesop Rock, Poisen Pen & Breez Evahflowin is a nice group collaboration thanks to an old fashion boom bap beat by Da Beatminerz. The West Coast's finest Madlib also comes through with two production gems of his own on "Life's Ill Pt. 2" featuring Breezly Brewin & Vordul and "Look Mom No Hands", giving Vast some much need consistency. And finally, one of the album's finest cuts is "Poverty Lane 16128", where Vast addresses a variety of social issues ranging from poverty to crime. "I'm in the city where buildings fall down and the drug price goes up, the government be lying on how airplanes blow up. I think this whole system is corrupt, they would rather fly into space than fill an empty cup".
While extremely erratic "Look Mom No Hands" is a solid solo debut for the Can Ox front man. The album may not live up to the hype that has accumulated over the years, but fans should be pleased with about half of what the album has to offer. Without El-P behind the album like "Cold Vein", "Look Mom No Hands" struggles to find its own identity with an overload of outside producers and guest appearances. Maybe Vast needs El-P & Vordul more than we thought after all.