From their debut album “The Psycho-Social-Chemical-Biological-And-Electromagnetic-Manipulation of Human Consciousness” to this year’s “Legacy of Blood,” Jedi Mind Tricks (which consists of lyricist Vinnie Paz and producer Stoupe) have established a cult-like following in the underground hip-hop scene with their gritty, rugged beats and relentless rhymes. Now, rather than spearhead his own new group (a la Eminem, Nelly, etc.), Paz executive produces the debut album from fellow Philadelphian duo, Outerspace. Having paired with JMT in the early 90s, members Planetary and Crypt the Warchild appeared on several tracks on the “Visions of Ghandi” album and toured with them during promotion for the disc. “Blood and Ashes” is the culmination of their years of work, capitalizing off of their buzz by giving listeners the raw, sinister music that they’d expect from Army of the Pharaohs associates.
While Stoupe is absent from “Blood and Ashes,” it’s evident that Outerspace has the same taste in production as their JMT brethren, leaning toward moody, medieval-tinged soundscapes. Haunting violins and melancholy keys from 7L establish the setting for “Fire and Ice,” DJ SatOne employs Spanish guitars and record scratching for “Cutthroats,” and Shuko supplies dark, roaring comic book sounds for a backdrop to “Chapter of Thunder.”
While the beats are prominent, Outerspace members Planetary and Crypt aren’t slackers on the mic. While most of their spitting comes in the vicious style seen on tracks like “It Is What It Is” and “Brute Force,” they also show a tad of variety. “Whatever It Takes” shows the members’ constant grind for success, and the aptly-titled “Raw Deal” has the members ranting about shady record execs and baby-momma-drama.
“Blood and Ashes” also features notable guest appearances. Celph Titled employs cinematic strings and melancholy keys on “The Revolution,” along with dropping a disturbing 16 bars to finish the track off, spitting, “and all that bullshit about â€˜let there be light’/it wasn’t that easy, plus I gave life to Christ.” 7L & Esoteric show up to contribute verses on “Far Greater,” and Vinnie Paz stops in to contribute his signature gruff vocals to “Blades of Glory.” Sadat X also gets mic time on “Top Shelf,” a track fueled by a glorious marriage of domineering trumpets and thumping bass, and Immortal Technique drops possibly the best verse of the album on the apocalyptic “Angels of Death.”
Without any truly wack offerings on the disc (even though “Gods and Generals” doesn’t live up to the other tracks), the only downside of “Blood and Ashes” is that Planetary and Crypt’s aggressive hardcore posturing can wear thin for certain listeners. Still, Outerspace has succeeded in making a solid album that should make their Babygrande labelmates proud, and fans of their raw, uncompromising style anxious for more.