Q&A With Jedi Mind Tricks’ Vinnie Paz

The venerable Philly MC on longevity, modern hip-hop and stealing music.

By Elliott Sharp
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 12 | Posted Jan. 31, 2012

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Jedi Mind Tricks

Despite a temporary split in the early aughts, Philadelphia’s Vinnie Paz and Camden’s Jus Allah have been the heart of indie hip-hop group Jedi Mind Tricks since 1993. Avoiding the major label system, JMT paved their own way by self-releasing and working with indie labels. Paz started Enemy Soil in 2010 and, in addition to releasing his solo material and an album by Philly’s Reef the Lost Cauze, the label dropped JMT’s Violence Begets Violence last year. On the eve of JMT’s first Philly gig in almost two years, we gave Paz a call.

How’s JMT been together so long?

It’s been a long time, man. It’s hard to imagine I was like 14 years old when we started. Music keeps us together, but it’s also the stuff outside of the music. We’re friends first. Musically, our approach to hip-hop’s the same—what we listen to and opinions about it culturally.

Did JMT know from the get-go it wanted to work with indie labels?

Yeah. There were offers from labels, majors and independents, but steering our own ship was important. So much red tape the average young artist doesn’t know about comes with majors. If it doesn’t like the record—no matter how good, no matter how much time was spent—the record gets shelved. Answering to anyone on any level like that was something we weren’t prepared to do, so the decision made itself. In food language, the major label game’s like McDonald’s—it’s fast food. They pump out the most shit they can, and there’s no nutrients. We may have sold less records doing it ourselves, but the purity was always there.

The Internet’s been abuzz following the recent crackdown on free album download websites like Megaupload and Filesonic. As the boss of an indie, what’s your take?

On paper it seems good because the years of people stealing music has certainly hurt many artists. You know, if someone right now wanted to find my shit for free, they could. These young kids ... do they even know how to go into a store and buy a CD anymore? I don’t think so, but only time will tell. There’s also an art to making an album that’s getting lost.

And this critique on today’s game is a big part of Violence Begets Violence, right?

We have a disdain toward artists who no one knows where they came from. I don’t want what happened to jazz, soul and rock ’n’ roll—subcultures that were whitewashed and destroyed by marketing schemes—to happen to hip-hop. We have a chip on our shoulder when it comes to how hip-hop’s made. But either I can be angry about it, or I can think about it logically, because no one’s even gonna know who these kids are next year. They just come and go. There’s no careers anymore like we got.

Jedi Mind Tricks perform Sat., Feb. 4, 8pm. $20. With Diabolic + B. Lynch. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. 215.232.2100. utphilly.com

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Comments 1 - 12 of 12
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1. Anonymous said... on Feb 1, 2012 at 11:00AM

“Yea, that's all well and good. Dude knows what he's doing, and is talented as hell. However, he- like most mainstream rappers- portrays himself in his lyrics to be someone he is not. He's a hypocrite. He says one thing and does another. Even worse, when he's called out on it, he runs and hides. He's a punk. A talented punk, but a punk nonetheless.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Feb 1, 2012 at 11:00AM

“Yea, that's all well and good. Dude knows what he's doing, and is talented as hell. However, he- like most mainstream rappers- portrays himself in his lyrics to be someone he is not. He's a hypocrite. He says one thing and does another. Even worse, when he's called out on it, he runs and hides. He's a punk. A talented punk, but a punk nonetheless.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Feb 1, 2012 at 11:35AM

“how does he portray himself as something hes not? please enlighten me....

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4. Anonymous said... on Feb 1, 2012 at 12:43PM

“#1

Back your story up wit facts or get tha fuck out of here...”

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5. Hi! said... on Feb 1, 2012 at 01:19PM

“I don't understand your comment. Is mainstream Hip Hop always wack shit? What about Jay-Z, for example? Is his music and verses wack? It's too simple what you write because JMT is in the biz for many many years now. Someone who has job experience for so many years knows what he says about his job. I think he's not a hypocrite and doesn't need to hide like you said before. Just because he's on an indie label doesn't mean he has to listen to vinyls all day!...but I know that many fans would prefer that. Have a good day.”

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6. mark b. said... on Feb 1, 2012 at 01:26PM

“Fuck outa here wit that bullshit. I'd like to see you step in the ring wit paz hahaha. Be like Iron Mike and that Irish bull that dropped in 20 secs. An I aint ridin no pipe its jus truth. And, sometimes small beef aint even worth the bid, when you get hair on ya nuts hopefully you realize this before you end up Up state gettin butt rapped as a the block cupcake faggot. Big up vinny you bin holdin philly down since I was a young bull.”

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7. True Talk said... on Feb 1, 2012 at 09:55PM

“Yo fuck anyone pullin the hypocrite card on a rapper, i d like to see you right 16 bars cleaverly time in and time out and not contradict yourself once in a while. every one a fuckin hypocrite, hate liars but you lie, hates theives but you steal, shun racists then make a stereotypical comment. fuck all dat. at least that hypocite got skill. he aint muslim he aint christian he aint nothin but like all smart men hes takin a bit from all and turned it into his own understanding. if you dont like it dont buy it (and deffinately dont steal the shit fagget), but if you love it like i do. you'll be waitin for the new album to drop this month wit some new sick hypocritical shit.”

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8. Anonymous said... on Feb 3, 2012 at 10:21AM

“"We have a disdain toward artists who no one knows where they came from" I dont get this.”

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9. Elliott Sharp said... on Feb 4, 2012 at 10:06AM

“@Anon 8: In that sentence, I think Vinnie's talking about artists who've recently been overnight successes. The best example of this in 2011 was, I think, A$AP Rocky. This is my understanding of his claim, at least.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Feb 7, 2012 at 08:22AM

“yo, this vinnie paz always talking. does he ever talk about his personal life? does he have a lady or love interest?”

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11. Mj Cullen said... on Feb 11, 2012 at 10:59PM

“Does anyone have an email or somethin for stoupe???”

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12. Sam Allen said... on Jul 25, 2014 at 04:02PM

“Will I be able to Purchase God's Fury on iTunes anymore? that is the best album out there, what I know about God's Fury is that Apple removed it from the iTunes Store (U.S.), and I'm unable to purchase the whole album and give your u and your group more Money, a lot more!”

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