“A lot of emcees…a lot of rappers out there, you know, they lucky to spit one hot verse, maybe drop an EP. man Vinnie Paz been putting this shit down for 20 consecutive motherfuckin’ years, record after record, classic after classic…salute that motherfucker”
Esoteric dropped that quote on stage in front of the sold out crowd at the Jedi Mind Tricks show on April 11th at Islington Academy. This simple line encapsulated the career of one of the illest underground emcees and co-founder of one of the greatest groups that our culture has produced. Despite, of course, leaving a lot essential details out – the depth of the content, the largely independent releases, the mental health issues – the Army of the Pharaohs/Czarface emcee captured a lot of the things Vinnie Paz and JMT are so deeply respected and will be so widely remembered for –the prolific consistency of the highest grade, raw, rugged, uncut, hardcore Hip Hop. That’s why the show was sold out, that’s why they always are, (“that’s why you copped my shit 9 times at the same store”) and that’s why the crowd saluted the performance with an almost constant mosh pit. Dedicate fans reflecting the work of a truly dedicated emcee.
The venue was full as soon as the doors opened. People had been queuing for hours before, trying to get hold of a ticket. Before the main event, the crowd were blessedby some of the best underground talent that London has to offer. Representing the international grassroots Hip Hop organisation End of the Weak, the organisers of the UK chapter – founders DJ Snuff and Kissy K and former UK Champion Mas Law – brought out a crazy line-up. Sus Bully, Da Flyy Hooligan, Genesis Elijah,Phili N Dotz and current Champion Gee Bag performed their bangers before Kropz, Consensus and one dude called Apex Zero were brought into the circle for a cypher that got crazy. Raw lyricism, genuine freestyle, battling, political commentary and more were on display, highlighting multiple levels of the art of the emcee – exactly what EOW stands for – setting the tone for the main event.
As Mas called out the introductions…the crowd were gassed! Even with a warm up that dope, these fans were there for one reason only. The noise when 7L came out to setup, followed by Esoteric, was a madness – and the level went even higher when the Pazmanian Devil akaIkon The Verbal Hologram aka Boxcutter Pazzy hit the stage. The mosh kicked off INSTANTLY. Shit got so rowdy so quickly that Vinnie Paz stopped the show in the second track to get two girls pulled out of the crowd to stop them from being crushed. The show continued in the same vein all the way through, as Vinnie and Esoteric ran through classics from solo, Jedi Mind Tricks, Army of the Pharaoh, Heavy Metal Kings and Czarface albums, with the hardcore supporters down the front spitting every memorised word. More than a few fist fights broke out, mandem surfed the crowd, ladies were on shoulders, people were pulled out the crowd dehydrated and battered – casualties of the continuous mosh. Security couldn’t drag out everyone who was raising up, meaning the night went down, etched into the memory of everyone involved as yet another raw as fuck Jedi Mind Tricks show.
The livest responses came when ‘Heavenly Divine’ and ‘End of Days’ dropped, but the most poignant part of the night was Vinnie’s dedication to the recently passed legend Sean Price, taken too early in August 2015. Echoing many of the Hip Hop community who knew Sean P personally, Vinnie spoke of him as a brother and vowed to never let that brother die as he lives on through his music. When “Blood Runs Cold” dropped the crowed responded the way Hip hop heads should; they got as hype as possible and spat the bars as loud as they could.
The show was ILL, living up to the expectations of those who have seen JMT before and, I’m sure, inspiring another generation of fans in the same way I was when I first saw them live. The energy expressed and reflected off the crowd showed was evidence of a person who has mastered their craft. Before the show I was able to build with Vinnie for I AM HIP HOP and GLOBAL FACTION and he said, quoting his father, that he feels he’s gotten to where he has because “it’s not work if you love it” and that he has to be in the studio weekly. He is proof that with that level of commitment to an art form, or any chosen direction, it can bear fruit, can take you around the world, can build you a committed fanbase, even when you are positioned largely outside of, even opposed to, the mass media machine.
The full interview with Vinnie Paz will be coming soon on I AM HIP HOP and GLOBAL FACTION’s platforms. While you’re waiting, if you want some more raw lyricism, reach End of the Weak’s first round of the 2017 Emcee Challenge, this Thursday 27th April 2017 upstairs at the iconic Ritzy Cinema in Brixton. There are still positions open to emcees who want to enter the competition and test out their skills. You can find EOW UK on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eowldn/ or email them for more info at EOWLDN@GMAIL.COM
Photos by KT Watson (www.ktw.photography)
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To see exactly what you missed out on check out the footage from Global Faction and I Am Hip Hop Magazine: