Off the Record: Jedi Mind Tricks

Jedi Mind Tricks’ emcee Vinnie Paz is known for the forceful and angry delivery of his violent lyrics. Vinnie always makes sure that the words of any JMT track hit the listener like a Mack Truck. If you want vers??atility and a new sound on each track, you might want to look elsewhere. But, if you like enraged and energetic delivery, then Vinne Paz is your kind of emcee. Raspy-voiced, rugged, and ready to try and slay any beat that group-mate/producer Stoupe slides his way, Vinnie Paz is ready for war. The question is, in releasing another album barely a year after his last project, is Vinnie ready for more?

With Legacy of Blood coming out so soon after the release of 2003’s Visions of Gandhi, the listener might wonder if emcee Vinnie Paz and producer Stoupe really had enough time to put together another album that truly reflects the full extent of their talent. This time around, the group decided to record the album in Vinnie and Stoupe’s native Philly, which meant that the two of them did not have to travel to a New York City studio every time a creative impulse struck them.

Stoupe apparently had no trouble banging out track after track of brilliant, interesting, and innovative music. The ability to record in Philly allowed Vinnie Paz to hear one of Stoupe’s masterpieces and sit down on to write his rhymes in the same day. The haste with which he wrote many of these songs is evident in weak lyrics like “that’s what I’m here for, the reason why I’m drinking all this f—ing beer for.” After hearing the abovementioned lyrics in the first song of the album, the listener wonders if Stoupe’s exceptional work at the production boards will keep Vinnie’s hurried writing from spoiling the record. Many of the listeners’ doubts are alleviated on track three, titled “Scars of the Crucifix.” The song is lyrically one of the strongest tracks of the album, and is full of lines like “My appetite for blood is crucially insatiable, and I’m a righteous thug that’s brutally defacing you.” Stoupe brings his best to the table, creating an eerie beat with creepy samples, and a foreboding bass-line, all of which work well with Vinnie’s morbidly violent lyrics.

On “Saviorself,” which features Wu-Tang affiliate Killah Priest, Vinnie Paz comes forward with some heavily academic subject matter as he delivers rhymes full of esoteric references to the Old Testament and the history of the Biblical Israel. “Saviorself” is one of the true gems of Legacy of Blood. The sonically dominant element of the beat is the Spanish classical guitar used throughout the track. The mellow and melodic production on “Saviorself” is simply exceptional. Good scratching and well-chosen samples perfectly blend the classical Spanish and hip-hop elements of the beat together.

Legacy of Blood is a remarkably well-produced album. The vivid and wildly eclectic and interesting soundscapes that Stoupe creates serve to draw the listener into each track. The album contains a variety of raw, rugged, and gritty beats as well as a selection of beautifully produced genre-bending tracks.

“Gales of Pain,” which features Sean Price, is a great example of a fight-starting track with an ominous bass-line and an all around mean sound. “And so it Burns” somehow perfectly blends the complicated and uplifting sounds of a full classical orchestra with a good bass-line and clean scratches and samples. On “And so it Burns,” classical music works perfectly with a beat that still retains a very old-school rap feel. Some tracks are fast-paced with foot-stomping bass-lines and a violent and angry sound. Other songs are relaxing and mellow. Despite the wide variety of instrumentals, Stoupe’s carefully placed transitional interludes, which showcase his mastery of his production skills, serve to bring the album together and make it a strong, cohesive unit rather than a collection of individually great songs.

Legacy of Blood is musically a very interesting album. The final verdict is that it is Stoupe’s beats which make the album worth listening to. Even though his delivery gets repetitive and he does kick more than his fair share of weak rhymes, Vinnie Paz deserves credit for flowing so well over Stoupe’s intricate beats.

Legacy of Blood will not appeal to every hip-hop fan out there. But, the morbid and violent songs of Jedi Mind Tricks were probably never designed to appeal to more than a select few. Jedi Mind Tricks fans will be happy with the new release. The unquestionably hard-core, yet melodic, classical music-influenced sound of the typical Jedi Mind Tricks track is retained on the new album. The creepy samples from movies, the references to crime, sickening violence, and religion are all here.

If you are already a fan, you will not be disappointed with Jedi Mind Tricks latest effort. Legacy of Blood is musically brilliant. Even if his lyrics are not always top-notch, Vinnie Paz is good at what he does, and his angry sound and energetic flow work very well with Stoupe’s beats. Legacy of Blood might not be perfect, but it is still a very interesting album to listen to.

If you really want to see Stoupe’s instrumentals done justice by a more accomplished emcee, pick up the Canibus/Stoupe collaborative album called Rip the Jacker as well. Both albums can be purchased at Burlington’s best local record store, Pure Pop.