Artist: Jedi Mind Tricks
Album: Violence Begets Violence
Label: Pazmanian Devil Music
Imagine if Guru released a Gang Starr Album without DJ Premier, or if Slug released an Atmosphere album without Ant. To many Jedi Mind Tricks fans that’s what Vinnie Paz and Jus Allah are doing by releasing Violence Begets Violence without Stoupe, the man who produced every other JMT track prior to this project. With that being said, many fans wrote off this album before they even had the chance to listen to it. That’s somewhat understandable, that is if you’re the type of fan that only listened to JMT for Stoupe’s epic beat making abilities. And yes those types of fans do exist as Stoupe’s cinematic production style filled with international influences and an array of instruments rivaling that of an orchestra could make my grandmother tolerate Vinnie Paz’s most gruesome rhymes. However, if you’re the type of fan that’s into JMT for the hardcore lyrics filled with violence and extreme political views than there’s no need to worry as Violence Begets Violence still includes all of that (as if you couldn’t have guessed by the title). Sonically, there is no question that this album suffers from Stoupe’s absence, but if we’re talking lyrical content, then this album has JMT written all over it.
With Stoupe out of the picture, Vinnie Paz and Jus Allah enlisted a variety of other producers to take his place, some who try and pull off their best Stoupe impersonation, and others who make his absence more than obvious. The production on songs like “Imperial Tyranny” and “Design In Malice” are such knockoffs of Stoupe’s signature sound that it sounds like Vinnie Paz and Jus Allah copped these beats off Canal Street. On the contrary, tracks like the reggae style “Chalice” and the rock influenced “Carnival Of Souls” contain melodies you would never expect to hear on a JMT project. Although there are a few noteworthy bangers like “Weapon Of Unholy War” and “The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms” which features a fitting sample of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube’s “Natural Born Killers” on the chorus, the bottom line is that the production on Violence Begets Violence is mixed bag and Stoupe’s presence is certainly missed.
As usual with Jedi Mind Tricks, the parental advisory sticker on the front of the album is well earned. Vinnie Paz brutally attacks a number of tracks with violent rhymes most notably on “Burning the Mirror” as he kills his opening verse when he spits “I’m Kool G Rap, Kaczynski and God wrapped in one / I keep a stupid b*tch around me just to stash the gun / F*ck a crucifix I’ll use it just to stab a nun”. In addition to the vulgar awesomeness of those bars it is commendable that Paz sticks with the same rhyming pattern throughout the whole sixteen as he goes on spit equally vicious lines like “I treat b*tches like a jewel thief, smash and run”. Paz gets just as aggressive on tracks like “When Crows Descend Upon You” and “BloodBorn Enemy” as he spits bible defying lyrics that would probably make a priest spontaneously combust if he were to hear some of the sh*t that comes out Vinnie’s mouth on these joints. But that’s exactly the type of commentary that people want to hear from JMT, so props to Paz and Jus Allah for continuing to do them, even without Stoupe behind the boards.
Jedi Mind Tricks are no strangers to group feuds and departures. Jus Allah has left the group numerous times during his tenure with JMT, but has always managed to return. I’m sure JMT fans are hoping Stoupe follows in his footsteps as his absence definitely hinders Violence Begets Violence. While his departure from the group may put a dent in the JMT brand, it does not destroy it, as many JMT fans will continue to remain faithful to the hardcore Philly group, with or without Stoupe. Violence Begets Violence is far from JMT’s finest body of work but still offers all of the controversial lyricism that fans have come to expect from Vinnie Paz and Jus Allah. So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and cop this album. If you’re not too familiar with JMT than you’re better off picking up a copy of one of their earlier projects like Violent By Design or Visions of Gandhi.