The words "Jedi Mind Tricks Presents..." can get a certain group of hip-hop fans salivating. For good reason. The group has represented themselves with countless solid offerings. In fact "Violent by Design" is arguably one of the best underground releases of all-time. King Syze comes from the affiliated group Army of Pharoahs to drop his long-awaited sophomore release with "The Labor Union." Soon after inserting the disc the listener will know that they will not be disappointed by it, as the album offers the same gritty lyrics and dramatic beats we've come to expect from the imprint.
King Syze, if you are not familiar, is a stocky Latin rapper that will remind a lot of people of young Big Pun, though his material generally has a darker undertone. As expected, "The Labor Union" draws from the strong pool of fellow emcees to feature, like; Vinnie Paz, Apathy, Outerspace, Ill Bill and others.
The guests really deliver on the album, too. Ill Bill drops a very potent verse on "Play Ya Part (P.Y.P)" which comes through with deep piano tones that belong during the most disturbing parts of "The Phantom of the Opera." Here Non-Phixion affiliate Ill Bill drops this sickness:
"In their interviews they claim to make music with substance
When they album drop, the same I'ma shoot you with gun shit
Stop lying to the people, we the truth
The last real goons doing this music but still really shoot
Welcome to the dark ages
Hi-jack planes with razors
Catch me on the frontpage
Of every newspaper famous
To some, the most heinous
To others, the most courageous
My coming was predicted in the holiest of pages
A Sheperd amongst hungry wolves
I was blessed by the angels in the heavens to defend the youth
These events take place in University meetings
Many are mesmerized by my controversial teachings
Fuck selling drugs, I sell dreams
I use political violence as a valuable tool to sell peace
Rally people with an idea to change the era
I'm a freedom fighter though the world made me terror"
The fierceness of the lyricism holds strong throughout the disc as "Creep Show" that follows lives up to its title with a sinister atmospheric backdrop.
"And Now" featuring Vinnie Paz and Apathy might be the track that the eager skip directly to, given the lineup, and it is certainly not a weak point. Tut the Instrumentalist delivers a raw beat chock full of vocal samples and DJ scratches, but it is a bit understated compared to some of the other sweeping epic productions.
While this all-star team of guests might initially draw you into "The Labor Union," the real highlight of the album is King Syze, himself. Often he outshines the favorites which his witty verbiage and certain solo joints standout. "The Best", "Cement Work" and "Pain," are essential to the Jedi Mind Tricks fiend. They all share the common element of having especially palatable sonic landscapes.
"Cement Work" takes top honors thanks to a wily vocal sample and sporadic keys compliments of the almost always spectacular German underground production team Snowgoons. This, along with a good majority of the rest of "The Labor Union," sounds like shades of Jedi Mind Tricks mainstay producer Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind, which makes up for his absence. King Syze effortlessly flows with this solid lyricism:
"Hey yo you're not spittin'
And you also ain't cop killing
I'm top billing
You kicking the shit I'm not feeling
I work hard everyday
That's why I'm fighting these drums
While you no name niggas keep fighting for crumbs
In Philly don't nothing but the uzi spray
My only concern, really man, is who got paid
He's an underground rebel, why he rap about cash?
On the real you can't live off of incense and hash..."
The verse continues down its well-directed path and it shows that King Syze is not just your generic underground emcee. He is willing to embrace his human nature and the issues of violence and money that are related to that. His rhymes might not blow any minds but they are definitely consistent throughout. The biggest pitfall is the fact that the whole disc is nicely done, yet rarely is there a holy grail hidden amongst the tracks that demands immediate replay.
While the name King Syze sounds like something you would do in a Burger King drive-thru, the cheesy name is about the only thing not to like about the guy. Fans know to expect thirteen straight tracks of a hungry emcee aggressively attacking the track, while being backed by unique beats. If you pick up most of these solo efforts from JMT then go ahead and pick up "The Labor Union" without hesitation, but do it for King Syze alone because puts his work in and holds his own against the more celebrated names.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: August 19, 2008