Vinnie Paz – “Tortured in the Name of God’s Unconditional Love” review

Vinnie Paz is a 45 year old underground veteran from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania known for being the MC of Jedi Mind Tricks & the leader of the Army of the Pharaohs collective. He put out his first 2 solo albums Season of the Assassin & God of the Serengeti in 2010 & 2012 respectively, but returned in 2016 with The Cornerstone of the Corner Store. The Pain Collector would become my favorite of his since his first 2, but as above so below & Burn Everything That Bears Your Name were both almost as great, so I had no worries going into his 7th album considering his consistency.

“Pistol Opera” is a creepy boom bap opener with some piano chords talking about respecting violence & what he was purposely designed for until Method Man comes into the picture for the unsettling “Invisible Ether” produced by Stu Bangas talking about what happens when they start to flow. “Faith Healer” goes into trap territory thanks to longtime Enemy Soil Entertainment in-house producer C-Lance cautioning that shit’s all fun & game till the drum-magazines are empty, but then “Be Wise as Serpents” is a rap metal boom bap fusion with a ghostly hook & Vinnie acknowledging that motherfuckers think it’s cool to behave stupid.

Continuing from there with “Heroin on a Harpoon”, we have Geechi Suede talking about becoming rich as soon as his mom gave birth to him & Pazzy referring this as the oldest trick in the book over a boom bap instrumental with a blaring guitar & some jazzy undertones until “Curse of Canaan” with Kurupt finds the 2 talking about keep pushing the lines & the main loop throughout sounds like video game sound effects to me, I don’t know why. “Rambo Knife” however has some amazing vocal samples throughout speaking on cutting coke & causing panic, but then “3 Levels of Hikmah” is a triumphant jazz rap cut laced by Oh No with some incredible ad-libs talking about people shooting at him like paparazzi & a lot of them being yadda yadda.

“Killpoint” returns to the boom bap with some horn sections courtesy of Vic Grimes as Vinnie & M.O.P. get malicious lyrically while the piano-trap joint “Deadman’s Hand” calling himself the most ignorant of all-time while “Winged Assassins” with Boob Bronx & Ras Kass ruthlessly compare their rhymes to black hand-grenades. “A War Chest & a Propaganda Machine” has a more delirious quality to it provided by DJ Muggs being straight up & telling anyone who wants smoke with him to say his name while “Gunpowder Plot” with O.T. the Real spit some drug trafficking tales.

“Slight Rebellion Off Madison” is a woodwind/boom bap hybrid talking about how his shooters don’t die while “Father Yod” by the Heavy Metal Kings & Lord Goat finds the trio over some grim piano chords to spit that gun talk. The song “Spoils of War” with Big Twins aggressively talk about stomping on motherfuckers heads when they be outside over some ominous production while the penultimate track “Loro Pianas Robes” with Thirstin Howl III discuss being the upmost & being left cut in half over a glistening boom bap beat. “Zafiro Añejo” with Boob Bronx & Recognize Ali ends the album with the 3 referring to this as beautiful architecture with a flute hanging behind them.

Ikon the Verbal Hologram has always remained consistent with his music & even though God of the Serengeti is my personal favorite album of his, I definitely think this is the most I’ve enjoyed since The Pain Collector. The production has some more trap undertones to it this time around surprisingly, but best believe Paz & nearly every feature are absolutely catching bodies with their pens the whole damn time.

Score: 4/5

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Jedi Mind Tricks – “The Funeral & The Raven” review

Jedi Mind Tricks is a Philadelphia trio consisting of emcee Vinnie Paz, producer Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind & turntablist DJ Kwestion. They’ve proven to be a household name in the underground for 26 years from having a hand in founding the Army of the Pharaohs collective to dropping essentials like Violent by Design & Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell. Since putting out the underrated The Thief & The Fallen back in the summer of 2015, they’ve started getting in the habit of dropping an album once every 3 years. The trio’s previous effort The Bridge & The Abyss was a solid follow-up, but had WAY too many interludes. However with Paz coming fresh off Burn Everything That Bears Your Name over the spring, Stoupe & Kwestion are joining him for JMT’s 10th full-length album.

After the intro, the first song “I’m the Wooden Door” sets the album off with an Italian sample calling out the pussies whereas “Collapse the War Engine” is a sinister theme about being cursed with the dawn. Crimeapple tags along for “The Escapist” somberly speaking on going from hopeless from focused & after the “Pathogen” interlude, the Demoz-assisted “Don’t Get Blood on My Gucci” has a more calmer tone instrumentally talking about how you don’t wanna die.

Meanwhile on “2nd Hand Smoke”, we go into a more nocturnal direction with JMT saying they put these opps in the sky just before Boob Bronx comes into the picture for “The Death of 1 Man’s a Tragedy, The Death of 10,000’s a Statistic” solemnly admitting spending their whole lives on the wrong side of the law. “Manufacturing Consent” fuses together an organ & a vocal sample to spit that democracy only works when people are informed & after the “We Tolerate the Sickness” interlude, “The Chariot” grimly talks about the most ignorant thing in this world.

“Albatross” ponders why would anyone be mad at them with some keyboards sprinkled in the beat, but then Pro Dillinger joins in on the heinous “Crematorium” to quench for blood once more. “Path of the Beam” has a bit a mystical feel instrumentally to spit that insulting shit while the song “We Bow in It’s Aura” weaves in an acoustic guitar to declare himself the father of the trench.

After the “Until The World Consumes Us” interlude, the penultimate track “Abdallah Azzam Brigade” finds Demoz returning alongside Ill Bill & Recognize Ali for a vicious 5-minute barfest & “The Great Derangement” finishes it off by sadly picking apart all the lies we’ve been told.

I pretty much enjoy all the JMT albums with the exception of Violence Begets Violence being mid, but The Funeral & The Raven is a great finish to the trilogy that The Thief & The Fallen had started. I like how it has less interludes than The Bridge & The Abyss did, Stoupe’s production is still one of a kind all these years later & Paz lyrically always hits the target no matter what he’s on.

Score: 4/5

Vinnie Paz – “Burn Everything That Bears Your Name” review

This is the 6th full-length album from Philadelphia underground mainstay Vinnie Paz. Coming up as the MC for Jedi Mind Tricks & the leader of the Army of the Pharaohs collective, he also started building an impressive solo career off his 2010 debut Season of the Assassin & the 2012 sophomore effort God of the Serengeti. His previous album as above so below just came out last Valentine’s Day & a little over a year later, we’re already being treated to Burn Everything That Bears Your Name.

“Socrates Drinking the Hemlock” is a 2-minute opener with Boxcutter Pazzy spitting that disrespectful shit over an old west-sounding instrumental & then Billy Danze joins him for the horn/boom bap infused “Machine Gun Etiquette”, where both of them comparing their lyricism to that of LMGs. “Body Bag Philosopher” brings out the horror vibes from C-Lance’s piano instrumental to Vinnie’s lyrics about a rat going rogue whereas the Stu Bangas-produced “Papi Wardrobe” talks about letting the TEC spray over what I assume to be a 70’s sample.

We then get on some mafioso shit as Ill Bill & Lord Goat hop on the orchestra-laced “Witches Teeth” while the song “Latka Bravas” talks about murder over some trumpets loops. Things go into a more jazzy direction on the Oh No-produced “Danger’s My Business” with lyrics detailing a war going on outside, but then Vinnie details his woman having an abortion on the track “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” & the way Farma Beats flips “Don’t You Ever Dare” by Dean Friedman is immaculate.

“Guilty Remnant Cigarettes” is a short yet effective cut about being out for blood over a more vintage instrumental from Esoteric & right after funny enough, The Czar-Keys cook up what could possibly be the darkest beat on the album as The Verbal Hologram reminds us of being an old school shooter on the song “Don Eladio”. Meanwhile on the overawing “Warhead”, we have Chino XL coming through to help detail how dirty people are before talking about bodies being stacked up on the sepulchral “Excuse All the Blood”.

The song “White on White Crime” kinda has some trap & rock undertones in the production as O.T. the Real & D-Boy Flowski come together with the Pazmanian Devil to talk about how they rap what they live, but D-Boy’s verse at the end doesn’t hit me like the first 2 did. This is followed up with the powerful Islamic ode “Battle of the Camel” featuring Willie the Kid & the sample Giallo Point uses is just so comely.

Vic Grimes takes shit back to boom bap territory on “Torch Bearer”, which I think might be the Paz Man’s response to the diss tracks both King Magnetic & Doap Nixon put out towards him last year. The song “Affairs in Order” incorporates some synths as Jay Royale accompanies the mic to talk about how you don’t wanna be around when the feds start getting on your ass.

Lord Goat returns for “Tell Gold to Hold the Boneyard” alongside Crimeapple to deliver them gangsta bars over a guitar-driven instrumental from Hobgoblin before incorporating an organ & some sputtering drums tor the track “Duppy or Gunman”, where The Sicilian Shooter says anyone who wants it with him is out of their goddamn minds & rightfully so.

“Angels with Dirty Faces” is a gospel-like homage to everyone Vinnie’s family was enamored before he & Eto talk about acting right around them on “Murder Takes Time”. The penultimate track “Lloyds of London” is a bilious acknowledgement of telling when people don’t want the smoke, but the Boob Bronx verse is another low-point for me personally. Finally to round it off, M.A.V. tags along to get in battle rap mode for the flute-backed closer “Digital Veil”.

In comparison to as above so below, I actually happen to prefer Burn Everything That Bears Your Name a bit more. Did it need to be 22 songs? Not necessarily. However, the dude’s pen-game remains unmatched as does his ear for production almost a quarter of a century deep making music.

Score: 4/5

Vinnie Paz – “as above so below” review

Vinnie Paz is a underground veteran from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania known for being the MC of Jedi Mind Tricks & the leader of the Army of the Pharaohs collective. He put out his first 2 solo albums Season of the Assassin & God of the Serengeti in 2010 & 2012 respectively, but returned in 2016 with The Cornerstone of the Corner Store. Last time we heard from him solo-wise was with The Pain Collector in 2018 & with Valentine’s Day arriving, he’s back with his 5th full-length album.

It all starts with “Crime Wave Tehran”, where Pazzy talks about shooting someone over a minimalist yet intimidating instrumental from Giallo Point. The next song “Scorched Earth” with Estee Nack & Jay Royale sees the 3 spitting some vicious mobster-style lyricism over a Stu Bangas beat with some prominently harmonious vocals while the track “I’m the Chaos” reminds us of Paz’s place in this culture over a boom bap/rock fusion from Vic Grimes. The song “Mabuhay Gardens” talks about how nothing other than death is guaranteed over a somber beat while “The Conjuring” compares himself to that of a magician over a Bronze Nazareth beat with a relaying vocal sample.

“The Black Hand” with Demoz sees the 2 talking about murder over a cavernous beat from C-Lance supplied with a hook delivered in this weird faux-Jamaican patois while the song “Mock Up on Mu” sends a message to his competition over a suspenseful instrumental. The track “Ankle Bracelets” talks about wanting to be alone over a calming beat & a stellar hook with Queen Herawin while “The Conpleat Witch” with Nowaah the Flood finds both MCs painting some vivid street imagery over a boom bap beat with some creepy keyboards.

The song “Hannibal” is laced with gun talk over a boom ball beat with a luxurious pianos lead while the track “Silician Bull” compares himself to just that over an ominous beat. The song “Cero Miedo” gets confrontational over an eerie beat. The song “Spilled Milk” is a tear-jerking tribute to his father with a piano instrumental to enhance the emotion while the track “Vahid Moradi” with Rigz sees the 2 talking about staring into Satan’s eyes over some strings.

The song “I’ll Buy All the Uranium You’ve Got” talks about being strapped over a boom bap beat with a prominent vocal sample while the song while the track “Doomsday Machine” with Demoz & Vast Aire sees the 3 talking about how ruthless they are over an instrumental with a beautifully dark atmosphere to it. The song “Serve the Creator” with Recognize Ali sees the 2 talking about Allah over a soul sample & some horns then the closer “The Gone-Away World” gets conscious over a killer rock instrumental Vinnie made himself with co-production from Scott Stallone.

Paz’s discography has always been known for being consistently hardbody & this is no exception. A couple of the features could’ve been better to me personally, but his lyricism has gotten sharper over time & the production is as equally gritty.

Score: 4/5

Camouflage Regime – Self-titled review

The Camouflage Regime is a newly formed hardcore hip hop duo consisting of 2 East Coast underground heavyweights: former Juice Crew member Tragedy Khadafi & Army of the Pharaohs leader Vinnie Paz. The 2 have collaborated with each other a couple of times in the past (most notably the iconic Jedi Mind Tricks joint “Genghis Khan”) but now, they’re teaming up for their highly anticipated debut.

The album kicks off with “Bloody Jungle”, where Paz & Tragedy get murderous over an eerie Stu Bangas beat. The next song “Canaan’s Bracelet” with [Agallah] sees the 3 spitting that gun talk over a piano-inflicted boom bap beat while the song “A Warrior’s Fate” is laced with vicious battle bars over a sinister beat. The track “Cinematic Echo” boasts about their skills over a soulful beat while the song “Jummah Rituals” gets back on the violence tip over an apocalyptic beat.

The track “Fibre Optic Weapons” with Ill Bill sees the 3 vividly describing life in the streets over an ominous beat while the song “Nocturnal Militia” talks about how they ain’t ready to die over another keyboard-inflicted boom bap beat. “The Most Gracious” pretty much speaks for itself over a piano & some strings while the song “Thought Machine” gets conscious over an abrasive beat. And before the album ends with a decent remix to “Canaan’s Bracelet”, the final song “Persian Legacy” talks about being military minded over a boom bap beat with some keys & a killer guitar.

It’s been a few years coming & at the end, I enjoyed it. Paz & Tragedy could’ve padded it out with a few more tracks, but their chemistry really shines & the raw production suits them fantastically.

Score: 4/5