Artist: Jedi Mind TricksTitle: Servants In Heavan, Kings In HellRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Omar Hamza
It's very rare to see consistency in the world of underground Hip-Hop. Most groups drop a heralded first album, and then fizzle either from a lack of distribution or the rigors of an intense touring schedule. Jedi Mind Tricks happens to be the exception to this rule. On their fifth album, Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell (Babygrande), they are still sticking to the formula that made their second disc, Violent by Design, a subterranean masterpiece. Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind is still making the best Hip-Hop beats this side of the mainstream, while Vinnie Paz drops battle ready rhymes that will ensure a fight breaks out wherever they are heard.
Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell finds Vinnie Paz's rhyme style not just centered on battling but delving into more topical social, personal, and political issues. The fun kicks off with "Put Em in the Grave", the beat another heater by Stoupe with a sick piano loop and the ubiquitous scratched sample hook. It's evident that Vinnie is "bringing the Hologramic verses back" on this album. He rhymes in a more scientific style than he has evidenced in the last few albums with track after track of religious fanaticism.
The one track that will be certain to catch everyone's attention is "A Vietnam Story" where Vinnie and R.A. the Rugged Man go verse for verse in the most insightful track JMT has done in years. This record will be remembered most for R.A.'s robotic flow recounting his own father's story of war while absolutely murdering the beat (Sidenote: Where is R.A.'s album?). The lead single, "Heavy Metal Kings", sticks true to JMT form and sports a beat that actually sounds like the sky is falling. Packing a guest appearance from a very pissed off sounding Ill Bill explaining, "Without order nothing exists/Without chaos, nothing evolves/Now get on your knees, so I can stick this gun in your mouth!"
Other than the way too serious title, this album falters elsewhere. For one, almost every song has a scratched hook, which tends to get old quickly. Remember that it's Stoupe producing this album, not Premier. Also, there are too many depressing tracks here for one person to listen to all the way through without contemplating suicide. Now don't get it wrong, "Razorblade Salvation" is an excellent sequel to last album
s "Before the Great Collapse", but it seems like every song is a huge downer. JMT is not known for making pop hits, but the occasional song that can be bumped on a sunny day doesn't hurt either.