First, a brief primer. Jedi Mind Tricks (JMT) are Philadelphia due who originally consisted of Vinnie Paz (vox) and DJ Stoupe (producer), but Paz’s vision was of a collective, much like Wu Tang. In 2000, they released their groundbreaking LP, Violent by Design, on which they were joined by five-percenter Jus Allah, who quit the group soon after. Since then, the group has been affiliated with DJ Kwestion, GZA, Kool G Rap, Sean Price, Ras Kass, Canibus, Percee P, Killah Priest, 7L & Esoteric, Mr. Lif, B.A. Barakus, Killa Sha, and R.A. the Rugged Man.

It’s pretty much settled that they’ve never hit the levels they reached in Violent By Design, but History of Violence, their sixth album, is the closest they’ve come. No weak tracks, only a few, short interludes (and they’re DJ stuff–nothing weird like Mr. Len’s messages on VbyD), and beats that blow away even most of the major label stuff. Plus, it’s the first time Jus Allah has been willing to record with JMT since that legendary 2000 release, having come to terms with his belief that Vinnie Paz was using the Muslim faith for purely financial reasons. I’m not sure what they did to make up, but it’s good for Hip Hop that they did.

Highlights of the record include guest appearances by JMT regulars like Planetary of Outerspace, Reef the Lost Cauze, King Syze, Sean Price, and Sheek Louch. Paz has always had an awkward flow, and has had trouble keeping up with the terrific beats on JMT records (more on that later), but he seems to have improved. Although his delivery is as raw and hardcore as ever, it’s also marked by a dark wit that’s biting and surprising, as well as impressive wordplay. In fact, Jus Allah’s verses almost seem like they were thrown in late—Paz might not even need him any more. They don’t pass the mic or even reference each other. Maybe I spoke too soon when I said he’d made up with Vinnie . . .

Of course, it wouldn’t be a JMT record without DJ Stoupe, whose talents are countless. His beats never stand still, always grind, and combine Latin and Middle Eastern music, old school samples, and complex orchestration unlike the simplistic, bomb-the-bass styles of Kanye, The Neptunes, and Timbaland. With DJ Kwes sprinkling in scratched choruses, every song on the record is fresh and innovative, unlike anything you’ve heard since . . . Violent By Design.

JMT aren’t as well known as they should be; this is rap for fans of: Wu Tang Clan, M.O.P., Soul Assassins.

Seance Of Shamans (w/ Outerspace & Doap Nixon)


Jedi Mind Tricks-Lupe Fiasco

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