Vinnie Paz :: God of the Serengeti
Enemy Soil Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"God of the Serengeti" is the second solo album from Vinnie Paz,
a follow-up to the well received "Season of the Assassin" in 2010. It's not surprising that it would
be critically acclaimed given his long history as the frontman of
Jedi Mind Tricks, and
they dropped an equally acclaimed album between these two. At this
point in Pazienza's career, the only thing he should fear is not fear
itself, it's simply finding a way to stay near the apex of underground
hip-hop after having been there for so damn long. "God of the
Serengeti" doesn't pull any punches in that respect by having DJ
Premier produce "The Oracle," one of the most bruising beats from
Primo in many a minute. It's bass, distortion, reverberating guitars,
slapboxing beats and Biggie samples - SHIT HITS HARD.
"I'm a bull in a china shop, watch how the uzi spit
Who he wit, brothers with +Hammers+ and they like +2 Legit+
I ain't got any time for your foolishness
Raw raps from the same place where the kufi sits
He the motherfucker always sippin Goose and shit
Stomp a rapper out, Timberland boots and shit
The left hand is what I give you the contusions with
The right hand is where I write all of the ruthless shit"
Vinnie's unbridled ambition is on display when he spits the words
"I'm trying to make the same money that Madonna make." I don't know
if that's realistically possible for Vinnie Pazienza, but if you don't
aim high, you'll never hit anything but the concrete. Actually I don't
know if that's obtainable for ANY underground rapper, since
having Madonna money would contradict being "underground" in the
first place, but let's examine this idea a little more closely.
Paz has a devoted following, but he's more than a bit of an anomaly, and
not just in hip-hop. There aren't many people who are born Roman
Catholic in Sicily and convert to Shia Islam in Southern Philly. As
much as I respect his religious choices, I'm still not sure how he
reconciles the amount he raps about drinking vodka and swearing
profusely - perfectly acceptable for a rapper but not exactly in
keeping with his faith. As a listener you come to accept those
contradictions though, along with his many conspiracy theories
about everything from George Bush and Barack Obama to the
Illuminati. If these things don't keep him from selling like Madonna,
his vocal tone is (and this is a compliment) like someone gargling
with 190 proof after smoking a dozen cigars.
There are a lot of reasons Vinnie Paz could never get that kind of
mainstream that Madonna does, though if we're balancing the scales
that's also because Vinnie Paz wouldn't be the amorphous musical
blob she has become over the years. To stay on top of the pop world
you have to change with every fickle pop trend, work with every
hot flavor of the minute, and basically lose your soul to the music
industry. Vinnie Paz may only be on top of the underground, making
Mobb Deep money instead of Madonna money, but he gets to stay
true to his values - even the contradictory ones - and make the kind
of music his fans embrace. And what's so appealing about Vinnie
Paz IS the contradictions - the sandpaper voice, the Muslim
who drinks straight vodka, the man who casually advocates that
"Violence Begets Violence"
yet says "As-salamu alaykum."
Paz is working with all the people you'd want him to work with from
hardcore East coast hip-hop on this project. Lyrically he's got Immortal
Technique and Poison Pen on "And Your Blood Will Blot Out the Sun"
(that's a hell of a title), Mobb Deep on "Duel to the Death," Kool G. Rap
on "Wolves Amonst the Sheep," Tragedy Khadafi on "7 Fires of
Prophecy," et cetera - there's no shortage of cameos amongst the 74
minutes of this CD including multiple cameos by his favorite collabo'
partner Block McCloud. Beats are from the finest producers of the
hip-hop scene as well - Marco Polo, Mr. Green, Stu Bangas, Psycho
Les, et cetera. The only ones who didn't bless this album that probably
should have are Alchemist, M-Phazes and Large Professor.
So here's the grand summary - a lot of people don't like Vinnie Paz
and I understand why. They don't like the contradictions between his
religion and the lifestyle he advocates. They don't like the vocals and
they find his voice irritating. They don't like the seemingly limitless
amounts of bloodshed he's willing to spill. Vinnie Pazienza is not
going to be Madonna to those people, now or ever. Guess what though?
Nobody said you couldn't be a contradiction and be a success. Kanye
West has built an entire career off it. Maybe it's not Jesus who walks
with Paz, but if he considers him a prophet, more power to him. All
he really has to do is keep on making the kind of music he does on
"God of the Serengeti" and give it the one thing he's never had any
shortage of in his career - TONS OF TESTOSTERONE AND
FUCK YOU ATTITUDE - and there will always be a place for
him at the banquet hall of hip-hop's smorgasboard. He's an unusual
flavor, but one that should still be considered a delicacy - even if
it just might be bad for you.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: December 4th, 2012