July 30, 2008

Jedi Mind Tricks - The Psycho-Social, Chemical, Biological, And Electro-Magnetic Manipulation Of Human Consciousness (November 4, 1997)

Regardless of what my two readers might feel in sporadic bursts, Hip Hop Isn't Dead isn't solely about mainstream rappers. It's just that, every time I actually write about something that could be considered "underground", nobody leaves any comments. Here's July's bid to shift that behavior around.

Jedi Mind Tricks (I'd be willing to bet that the name alone may have caused more than a few of you to give up on today's blog) is a hip hop duo haling from the East Coast (specifically, Philadelphia and New Jersey), made up of producer Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind (no subtlety there) and rapper Ikon the Verbal Hologram, who would later change his rap name to Vinnie Paz, which rolls off the tongue much more freely. In 1996 they released their Amber Probe EP, an inauspicious debut that consisted of six songs. It didn't make a lot of noise in the hip hop world, but the few folks that stumbled upon it craved for more.

In 1997, Ikon and Stoupe took a few songs from the Amber Probe EP and recorded several more, formed a debut album, and called it The Psycho-Social, Chemical, Biological, And Electro-Magnetic Manipulation Of Human Consciousness, a title which I will only type once (thankfully, most people in the Interweb tend to refer to it as The Psycho-Social CD anyway). The title is swiped from an appendix from Val Valerian's book, Matrix III, which chronicles, in painstaking detail, "how the consciousness of human beings is being modified by psychological and social institutions" and how this all relates to the New World Order. Based on that last sentence alone, you can imagine that The Psycho-Social CD is chock full of religious references, conspiracy theories, and abstract thoughts that could expand your thought processes, but will probably just go over your head while you bask in the dark brilliance that is Stoupe's instrumentals.

The album was pressed in a limited quantity by Superegular Records, one of the least effective record label names in hip hop history. It was later re-released in 2003 on CD by indie hip hop giant Babygrande, who decided it would be a good idea to tack on the remaining tracks from the Amber Probe EP and some other Jedi leftovers, in an effort to capitalize off of the success of Jedi Mind Tricks and their subsequent albums. I don't have the original vinyl: I have the re-release. However, this review is going to focus on the original twelve tracks that appeared on the vinyl release of The Psycho-Social CD. Just as long as the two of you out there know that there are more tracks that appear after number twelve.


Well, at least it's short. And nobody discusses why this album is going to be so fucking great, so that's a plus.

And with just one song, Jedi Mind Tricks has completely lost any hope they may have held on to regarding even the most remote possibility of mainstream success. (I'm kidding: I'm sure that even they knew they had no shot.) This song isn't bad at all, though, even if the Masta Killa vocal sample is misused.

Breath of Judah's line about "opening up all your chakras" is amusing to me. Otherwise, Chinese water torture has never sounded more real in your earbuds (and yet, Jeru the Damaja's DJ Premier-produced "Come Clean" still takes the trophy, hands down). Ikon also makes sure that the audience's awareness of his skill level is high by completely stealing the song away from his honored guest.

Okay, the reference to "chakras" has officially gotten old, just one song later. I'm not impressed by this Breath of Judah guy, but Ikon/Vinnie and Apathy (of the Demigodz collective) sound really good over this dark, melodic treat. Lyrically, though, I have to warn my two readers that if you're not fond of lyrics that have quasi-religious, historical, and mathematical tones, then, wow, this album must be awful for you.

The original version of this song appeared on the aforementioned Amber Probe EP (and, now that I think about it, this remix appeared on there, too). Simply put, this shit is dope, even if Ikon gets too wordy for his own good toward the end.

The sound bites used in what passes for the hook sound as if they were lifted from a bad Kool Keith song. No, wait, come back! The beat and lyrics are still worth your time! Wait! Dammit! I've probably lost you two forever.

This sounds like what Killarmy had been trying to achieve for the better part of the last decade. In fact, a collaborative effort between Vinnie Paz, the Lost Children of Babylon, and Killarmy, produced by 4th Disciple and/or Stoupe, may not be a bad idea. If only Killarmy was still relevant and its members weren't in jail or trying to burn their Wu bridges (Dom Pachino, looking in your general direction).

The beat does some interesting things throughout, but overall, I didn't really care for this track.

An interlude, albeit one with an admittedly great score.

Before all of the Wu stans jump all over me for the Killarmy reference above, I realize that the comparison between Jedi Mind Tricks/Lost Children of Babylon and a bunch of guys in fatigues representing Wu in a half-assed manner is probably not the best comparison to make. Trust me, I fucking know that Sunz of Man would have made for a better correlation. Like on this song, for instance: Killah Priest would probably feel right at home spitting over this instrumental.

Yan, the second rapper to appear, spits much too quickly to fit this slow-ass beat: it's almost as if he truly believed he would never get another shot at recording a verse on wax, so he decided to spit every rhyme he had ever conceived in one verse. That's the only misstep on this otherwise good song. Actually, there are two missteps: the Yan thing, and the overuse of the term "overstand", which always sounds pretentious as fuck to me, regardless of who uses it.

A lyrical clinic, administered by Ikon, is certainly not the worst way to end your album. The beat could be a tad bit more engaging, but it's good in other ways.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The Psycho-Social CD is not for everybody. Hip hop heads that live out of their backpacks may feel this one much more so that the fans of Clear Channel rap that listen to music primarily to test the speakers in their rides. The casual hip hop listener will have absolutely nothing to grasp on to, and might as well bypass this one. It's not the most challenging album, though: indeed, if you've found yourself appreciating any Killah Priest solo album, you'll like what Ikon/Vinnie has to say. And Stoupe's beats deserve to be commended. All in all, your grandmother probably won't approve of this one, but only because she may find it boring.

BUY OR BURN? While it isn't for all audiences, I'm the type of hip hop head that straddles the line between mainstream and underground with regularity: basically, I just like good music. I feel that a lot of my two readers fall into this same category. So if that describes you, and you chance upon this album while shopping for milk, throw it in your cart. It's actually pretty good. You'll even look past all of the quasi-religious undertones that derails a lot of underground hip hop, because the beats consistently rock.

BEST TRACKS: : "The Three Immortals"; "I Who Have Nothing"; "As It Was In The Beginning"; "Omnicron"; "Neva Antiquated (Dark Jedi Remix); "The Apostle's Creed"



  1. I'm a fan of JMT, but The Psycho-Social, Chemical, Elemental, Parental, Cereal, Variable, Aerial, Scrumdiddlyumptious Manipulation of Human Consciousness is probably my least favorite album by them, mostly because Vinnie/Ikon isn't quite the over-the-top, uber-violent, unapologetic bigot and misogynist he is on the later albums. Stoupe is a fantastic producer; I'm surprised more people haven't jacked his Chipmunk Latin/Classical style.

  2. AnonymousJuly 30, 2008

    The references are half ass, not engaging. This is underground MTV shit. Stoupe deserved more success, Vinnie did not.

  3. Vinnie Paz is a beast when he wants to be. I find that now he spends more time spazzing out and dissing other religions. But I fuck with Jedi Mind Tricks heavy! Nice to see someone do a review on them.

  4. Hopefully by breaking the 0 comment pattern, you'll suddenly be inspired to track down a copy of Operation: Doomsday and write about. Perhaps more interestingly, I'd like to see you review Rip The Jacker and talk about how Stoupe's beats have evolved since his early JMT.

  5. i dont know ive never liked these guys because they remind me too much of the ras kass canibus chino xl type rappers i always think these guys cant create a real song and just write a bunch of shit that rhymes but oh well there ok

  6. AnonymousJuly 30, 2008

    stoupe is a beast, their newest one was dope...and ive never even heard of this - gonna check it out.

  7. Mr. AquariusJuly 30, 2008

    nice, i think i might like this better than the other albums if your descriptions are spot on (which 99% of the time they are.)

  8. Lots of Italics. Btw I've always liked this album except for the Lost Children's verses as I thought they kind of sounded scary on this. But their group album which came later sounded better though. Heard they distanced from JMT once Vinnie started slanting heavily to the street side of things with the later albums, but they are on his Myspace top friends list.

    Anyways good going Max.


  9. AnonymousJuly 31, 2008

    too much senseless hatred in their music

  10. BOOKS OF BLOOD: THE COMING OF TAN is actually my favorite JMT song of all-time. To me, JMT was at their best when they were linked with LCoB and had kept the creativity in their lyrics. I could pass on pretty much all of Paz's later lyrical endeavors.

  11. This CD is one of my all time favorites and will stay that way forever, the dark beats mixed with Vinnies unusually enlightened lyrics are a combination not to be messed with. A real hip hop head knows and loves this CD. JMT forever

  12. I who have nothing is the best off of the album, mostly due to stoupe, paz does his thing and makes a great song, but stoupe far outranks paz ito hip hop

  13. This CD is pure genius. Although Violent by Design is the one that gets the attention, this one is a dark, borderline crazy, mythological masterpiece. Its so different from the violent pointless lyrics you hear in Visions of Gandhi and Legacy of Blood.

    Also, Stoupe is a god of production. Some complain this wasn't his best work, but I disagree. His beats on Violent by Design were a lot cleaner, more layered and classical, but this one set a tone/mood that no hip hop CD I've ever listented to can match. Its so dark and mysterious, and that can be attributed to the production.

    And Immaculate Conception...That song is either my least favorite song ever, or its one of the best beats ever made. How does that make sense? Well lets just say I've never listened to the whole thing through because the atmosphere is so devilish, evil and suffocating. Yet its quite genius in itself.

    Good review too.

  14. AnonymousJune 24, 2009

    Nice to see JMT get some attention. It's also nice to see that Vinnie has gotten out of his lyrical/rhythmic slump–"A History of Violence" is the best work he's done since Violent by Design. And Stoupe is as awesome as ever. Sadly, Jus Allah sounds worse than I've ever heard him, which is a shame.

    Still, I wish JMT would go back to their roots in the Pyscho-Social album. Even though Vinnie's improved, his lyrical content can still get a little tedious.

  15. that sucks you didn't review the bonus tracks, they were the only thing this album (and jmt in general) had going for it

  16. dude i love this album and the original tracks are way better than the bonus tracks btw but yea definitely one of my favorite albums

  17. Stoupe is a genius. I know About.com rated him 46th in their top 50 Hip Hop Producers a few years back but I think he's gotta be much higher. Vinnie was fine on this album