Jedi Mind Tricks (USA)

Sunday 9.4.2017 @ Helsinki, Virgin Oil

Tickets: SOLD OUT

As Vinnie Paz worked on what would become the Jedi Mind Tricks’ forthcoming album, he was drawn to the work of fantasy and horror writer Clive Barker. The Philadelphia rapper noticed recurring themes and concepts that loosely inspired The Thief And The Fallen.

“When it hit me, it was visceral,” says rapper Vinnie Paz, who is joined in Jedi Mind tricks by producer Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind. “The thief has negative connotations and there’s negative connotations behind being someone who has fallen. I guess I was attracted to the darkness of that, that neither of them are a positive thing. It wasn’t the yin and the yang or good versus evil or anything like that. It was that both implied something dark and it’s a dark record.”

Indeed, The Thief And The Fallen is the latest installment of Jedi Mind Tricks’ signature brand of hard-hitting, heavy-handed music. Even though the music often sounds angry and aggressive, Vinnie Paz infuses his lyrics with thought-provoking passages. On the stark, driving “Deathless Light,” which samples The Budos Band’s popular “Aphasia,” he says people are “incapable of hate if you’re ain’t able to love.”

“The thought that you couldn’t be smart and be aggressive, I think that came about somewhere in the ‘90s and that aggravated me,” he says. “I might have ODed on the aggression to prove a point. I can still talk about Bill Hicks or Dostoyevsky in the same song that I’m referencing an AR15.”

“It doesn’t mean that because you’re aggressive you’re stupid or that because you’re soft that that makes you an intellectual, or that you’re an intellectual so therefore you’re soft. I think that’s what dictated making sure I say some stuff rather than just going all-out aggression, aggression, aggression without making people think every now and then. I was influenced by aggressive music, but it’s aggressive music for the thinking man.”

Vinnie Paz focuses his thinking on unreciprocated relationships on the reflective, piano-accented “Fraudulent Cloth.” He found himself taking an atypical approach while writing the lyrics to this passionate song.

“A lot of my material, it’s shoot first, ask questions later in terms of the approach to music-making,” he says. “That song is the result of that rather than not thinking and just reacting. What would happen if I did think about things for a minute? That song is a result of that process. Typically, if I make a personal song, it’s specific to the subject. I think this is more vague and applicable to anyone, that idea of when you try to do the right thing. You’re raised well. It’s a cautionary nice-guys- finish-last tale.”

As Vinnie Paz delved into writing The Thief And The Fallen, he continued examining his own thoughts. On the scratch-heavy “Poison in the Birth Water,” for instance, he raps that “it doesn’t go away just ‘cause you’re choosing not to talk of it.” After writing the song, Vinnie Paz realized 

“I guess I tend to do that sometimes,” he says of his propensity for avoiding issues. “It’s an unfortunate personality trait, that if I ignore it it’s not there. Obviously that’s going to come back to bite you. I think I was going through some stuff and it came into my head.”

That mindset was shaped while Vinnie Paz was coming of age in the City of Brotherly love. As he notes on the somber “Hell’s Messenger,” he learned to leave nothing to chance and to play things close to the chest.

“Philly is the definition of a tough, working-class city,” he says. “I was always trying to draw some sort of parallel between the city and the struggle of an artist, what it takes to make it in this city as a human being and applying that to the struggle of an artist, especially not a pop artist or a don’t want to bend or break to satisfy the machine.”

While he steers the majority of the vocals on The Thief And The Fallen by himself, Vinnie Paz partners with R.A. The Rugged Man and A-F- R-O (aka All Flows Reach Out) on the Godfather- inspired “And God Said to Cain.” It’s a high-energy lyrical exercise that features each of the rappers delivering their raps in a highly dexterous, virtually non-stop manner.

On another posse cut, Vinnie Paz took an unconventional approach. He sent Dilated Peoples the beat for “The Kingdom that Worshipped the Dead” thinking that it didn’t fit the Los Angeles group. “I was like, ‘This is probably something that they wouldn’t rap over. So what would happen if I asked those guys to come into this world?’” he says. “A lot of times when you hear posse records, even if it’s amazingly lyrically, you weren’t surprised by the beat.”

Jedi Mind Tricks has been surprising the music world since it emerged in the 1990s. Vinnie Paz and Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind began making music together in 1992. Four years later, they released The Amber Probe E.P. In 1997, the duo dropped its debut album, The Psycho-Social, Chemical, Biological & Electro-Magnetic Manipulation of Human Consciousness. It hit its stride in 2000 on the critically acclaimed Violent By Design album, which also featured rapper Jus Allah and included its seminal “Heavenly Divine” single. The collection established what would be Jedi Mind Tricks’ signature approach: often menacing, regularly high-octane beats and raps that grappled with religion, societal woes and violence, among other charged topics.

In the 2000s, the group expanded, introducing its Army of the Pharaohs collective as both Vinnie Paz and Stoupe released solo projects. After not working with one another for several years, Vinnie and Paz decided to meet for dinner to see if they should reunite for another album.

“By the time the waitress brought the water over, it was like we were back in this crazy bizarre way of dealing with each other that we’ve had for 23 years,” Vinnie says. “I was like, ‘It’s still there,’ that ‘it’ thing that people talk about. It can’t be created or manufactured. It just exists or it doesn’t. I suppose I was worried whether or not it was still there because I guess we both would have walked away and just done different things musically. But after the first couple sentences, I was like, ‘It’s still there.’”

The Thief And The Fallen is proof positive.


Press inquiries & accreditation:
Anna Mäkelä
tel +358 50 5814153


Feniks Willamo
tel +358 45 2390170

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