This is Jedi Mind Tricks’ fifth album, but to be honest it’s the first one I’ve owned. After ex-member Jus Allah’s last effort I was expecting mindless violence and low production values. Instead, I was blown away by solid production, creative rhymes, and even a few conscious verses. The first notable track is “Put Em in the Grave.” Producer Stoupe employs multiple sample sources and scratching while Vinnie Paz growls a hardcore battle rhyme. “Suicide” is similar in theme, with a KRS-One sample announcing, “This is suicide.” Paz asks some religious questions towards the end.
The most striking track is “Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story” featuring R.A. The Rugged Man. Over crazy production, Paz announces, “I didn’t sign up to kill women and children.” He role-plays a soldier in Vietnam to chilling effect. It’s like a short story. Rugged chimes in, detailing a helicopter crash. He has a near-death experience and a vision: “I see Israelites, Muslims, and Christians at peace, no fights, black, whites, Asians, people of all types.” A survivor, he describes the effects of Agent Orange on his children. It’s haunting.
“When All Light Dies” has a pop hook, but Paz’s verses are raw. He cryptically spits, “I’ll put your body to the blades of choppers, and teach you about the disruptive symbol of chakras.” The first single, “Heavy Metal Kings” featuring Ill Bill seems superficial, although the samples are pretty wild. “Shadow Business” deals with the slave labor of sweat shops.
There are two potential cross-over tracks. On “Razorblade Salvation.” Paz apologizes to his mother for a suicidal letter and remembers all he has to live for. Diamond Girl provides indie rock-ish vocals enhanced by playful bass and beats. “Black Winter Day” is similar, with pitched-up samples and Paz at his most thoughtful (and depressed).
This album might be a bit too accessible for some Jedi Mind Tricks’ fans, but to my ears it’s just the right mix of over-the-top violence and personal introspection. It adds another dimension to Paz’s persona.