They were hailed as the torchbearers for a revival in the rap game. A return to battle raps, hard beats, and hard rhymes. Songs that make people jump, but also make them think. When Vinny Paz, Stoupe, and Jus Allah dropped the Pscyho-Social LP, people took notice. It was their second album Violent by Design that made them
Now an underground classic, it’s a perfect mixture of baroque samples splices, dust chamber beats, and street level lyrics, that was a perfect antidote to all of the commercialized party rap dominating the spectrum.
As is the case when a group is faced with high expectations that they didn’t set for themselves, it is viewed as a disappointment on arrival. Long awaited follow-up Visions of Gandhi, while a very good album, did not achieve the sweeping upheaval that many backpackers (myself included) thought it would bring. Despite being better than 98% percent of what was being offered, Jedi Mind Tricks didn’t meet our expectations, so it was considered a misstep. It is an unfair criticism, just ask Clinic.
JMT return with Legacy of Blood, a rather fast follow-up (almost a year to the day) considering the three year gap between Violent and Gandhi. Hotness is a commodity that is hard to maintain. In hip-hop, more so than any other genre, you are only as good as your last record and JMT can’t appear that they have lost a step. Fortunately, Legacy of Blood is a great album and will no doubt
With wrestler Kane declaring that human compassion will no longer affect him on the intro, JMT seemed to recognize some of the setbacks on Gandhi and that they are back to inflict pain. The Age of Sacred Terror opens with a guitar lick, followed by JMT staple of a eerie high-octave vocal sample with sharp snare sounds. Vinny Paz, sounding as gruff as ever, is in pure form. He brings the energy of M.O.P with the lyrical muscle of Lord Finesse or Jeru Da Damaja. He is Chuck D and Flavor Flav.
Anyone familiar with any Jedi album knows the lyrical content touches the same topics; vivid Egyptian and Islam imagery peppered with references to wrestlers, Anti-Catholic rhetoric and rampant homophobia (sample line “I ain’t gonna play no more/Beat the faggot to he ain’t gay no more). Vinny Paz will never give a MTV interview defend or explain his beliefs, but like superstars 50 Cent and Eminem, Paz has enough raw talent to display he doesn’t use these controversy triggers as a crutch. Straight up, Jedi Mind Tricks are unapologetically offensive, but if it something you as a listener can bear with, then you are in for a real treat.
Even the normally useless rap clichÃƒÂ© of interludes are used to great affect, even better than originators De La Soul. They actually strengthen the album and gives it a very direct theme. The beats on these one-minute intervals are better than most groups’ first singles. “Of the Spirit of the Sun” is a light guitar rhythm juxtaposed with Charles Manson’s musings on the beneficial nature of pain. It is disappointing that they don’t run longer, or are given a chance to have any lines dropped on it.
Stoupe definitely prays to the altar of D.J Premier and the Rza. From the scratched vocal samples on the chorus’ to the inventive use (and direct inspiration) of samples, this is both a Jedi Mind Tricks album as well as a tribute to all that was great about rap in late 80’s/early 90’s.
The setbacks on this album are actually from outside sources, and surprising one at that. The seemingly dream collabo between the Wu and JMT are a mixed bag. “Saviourself” featuring the perennially slept on Killah Priest finds the Wu-Reserve member dropping lines such as “Ill thoughts build from the mind/a rhyme rolls of the tongue like fine rugs/let me walk you through this/for the clueless” over a delicate Spanish guitar loop. The Genius, however, phones it in on “On The Eve of War,” which is truly a shame because it is one of the strongest beats on the album, featuring an orchestral string loop reserved for jewelry commercials. It doesn’t help that spliced in Gza lines are used for the chorus, exacerbating just how off his game is on the track. And Sean Price (of Boot Camp Clik and Heltah Skeltah), although tight, lacks the typical edge he brings to cameo’s.