Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind is better known as the phenomenally talented producer of Jedi Mind Tricks, who are, in turn, a grossly underestimated hip hop crew. On March 31, Stoupe dropped his first solo album, “Decalogue,” the album is definitely a producer’s project. Like the first records by D.J. Premiere, RZA, Dr. Dre and Wyclef Jean, the emphasis is on powerful beats and great guest spots to grab the mic. Where Snoop stepped in for Dre and Lauryn helped out Clef, Stoupe gets Joell Ortiz, Block McCloud, and M.O.P., among others, to drop verses over some of the best music beds Stoupe has ever created.
Unlike many producers, Stoupe has never been content to create a simple loop or sample a hook, Stoupe does ridiculously intricate sound collages, sometimes overlaying fifty, sixty, even eighty different sounds, resulting in music you can hear over and over and still experience it like it’s new. To his credit, Stoupe’s complexity doesn’t become distracting—he’s able to lay back and let the emcee shine, when necessary, which he does for Supastition on the “The Truth,” one of many stellar cuts on the record. Check out the odd whistle on the hook.
Another point: It’s called “Decalouge” because there’s only 10 songs, and the entire thing clocks in at less then 40 minutes. Which is a good thing, because it lets Stoupe play only “A” sides: No filler (except maybe for “Evil Deeds”). It’s nothing like Jedi Mind Tricks, either—not only because it lacks Paz’s characteristically dark flow, but also because it lacks any consistent flow at all, with every track performed by different artist. Still, it’s bizarre that none of his JMT buddies can’t help him out. A few songs sound like JMT beats, though like “When the Sun Goes Down,” which is well-suited to Saigon’s steady, no-bullshit flow and his ability to sing a hook. One of the best bangers here. And the most standout cut: Transition of Power, featuring M.O.P.: it’s heavy, hard, and everything you expect from an ex-Jedi producer.
All in all, a very good record. But I still miss Paz.