March 31, 2012

Jedi Mind Tricks - The Psycho-Social, Chemical, Biological & Electro-Magnetic Manipulation of Human Consciousness (1997)

I remember when, eons ago, I was banging my head not to metal, but to the fine sampled rhythms of underground hip-hop. I was (and still am) a hardcore fan and I can’t imagine not having a few hip-hoppers on my mobile phone to bad-ass around on my way to school.

The focus of today’s lesson is an exquisite group of baggy-clothed gentlemen called Jedi Mind Tricks. Just to be clear: their music has absolutely nothing to do with Star Wars, and even if it did, I wouldn’t give the slightest fuck , this isn’t freaking Wookieepedia. Get a life, nerds. Anyway, before browsing ebay for razorblades or rope discounts and shit, imagine how sad the doctors must’ve felt when they were struck by the shocking fact that REM’s music had nothing to do with medicine. Maybe that’ll cheer you up.

Before turning into a pile of sulfuric shit (late 2008), Jedi Mind Tricks were known for their legendary debut album, The Psycho-Social, Chemical, Biological & Electro-Magnetic Manipulation of Human Consciousness . It was highly praised for its simplistic name, tender, romantic lyrics and for dealing with light, day to day subjects such as the Illuminati, corporations, social crisis, society, the Freemasons, biology, religion, Kabala, mathematics, physics, robotics, and, most relatable of all, shadowy figures that control the human race through the means listed above. Through love, peace and tolerance, is what I’m saying.

Jedi Mind Tricks before they sucked.

Now you might wonder how different is this from Jay Z’s conspiracy-themed lyrical diarrheas that he keeps throwing at us, presumably hoping that we could see past his ghetto background. Thing is, Psycho Social was recorded with absolutely no hope for commercial success. There’s just these two guys, Vinnie Paz (then Ikon The Verbal Hologram) and 15 year old Jus Allah rapping over Stoupe The Enemy of Mankind’s beats in a basement somewhere in Philly.

The lyrical aspect is mind-blowing. Ikon’s metaphors and obscure references to all kinds of esoteric and weird shit and Jus Allah’s raw, barbaric delivery make for a dense, almost encyclopedic album; it’s like Salman Rushdie and Umberto Eco said fuck it and started rapping in front of the auditorium instead of giving eloquent speeches about potatoes or whatever the fuck smart people talk about.

But without doubt, Stoupe’s production gets the spotlight in this review. His intricate sampling (sometimes using up to 50 songs for a single track), mesmerizing beats and brilliant mixing make for a mysterious, in parts sinister atmosphere. Stoupe’s contribution to the album gives Ikon’s lyrics, whenever the case, subtlety, force, or violence. It also makes me obsessively Google every time I want to know where the hell he extracted some sample.

I could talk for years about this particular record, but that would just spoil your pleasure. If you’re into conspiracy theories, astronomy and other pick-up lines material, Psycho Social is clearly your cup of tea.

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