With over 20 years under their belts, Jedi Mind Tricks is back, although not without some changes — Jus Allah is out of the picture, and former familiar face Stoupe is back on production. Fresh off the heels of their most recent release, The Thief and the Fallen, group member Vinnie Paz sat down with HipHopDX for a brief catch up session, including discussing remaining consistent over two decades, the downside to social media, his favorite place to tour, and more. He also confirms that he’s working with Madlib, Oh No and Lord Finesse on his upcoming solo album.
The Gift & Curse Of Social Media
HipHopDX: I’ve noticed Jus Allah running his mouth online in a not so friendly manner, what’s up with that?
Vinnie Paz: I don’t know, you have to ask him. I’m out on tour doing my thing. I’ve never been worried about it.
DX: You released a video for the track “Fraudulent Cloth” with Eamon on it, and there’s been speculation online that it may be directed to Jus Allah.
Vinnie Paz: No, not at all. It’s just about the people that have come in and out of the last 20 years of our career. It’s just sort of the behavior of people that are only around when they need something.
DX: Wow, it really has been 20 years since you’ve been around.
Vinnie Paz: We formed in 1992, but the first record was ’96.
DX: When the dynamic of the group changes so much over time, with members coming and going, it must be hard to keep the sound consistent. How do you maintain that consistency and keep your fan base consistent as well?
Vinnie Paz: I don’t know, it’s not something I was ever cognizant of. I just do what I always have done, it’s been the same process. Putting something out subpar is never part of anyone’s plan. I’ve been blessed and lucky…maybe it’s just luck.
DX: Would you say it’s easier now to release music as an indie as it was one or two decades ago, due to changes in music technology, media, etc.?
Vinnie Paz: Accessibility is there, but is that even a good thing? Is it a good thing that someone can yell at you on Twitter, or say “fuck you” on the YouTube comments? It’s a slippery slope. I couldn’t reach out to Big Daddy Kane and be like “yo, how are you doing, what time does your show start tonight?” It has killed mystique. There’s less respect for the artists now, when you can write to them on Twitter and tell them you think they’re a dick. In terms of accessibility, yeah, you can also reach 400,000 people with the click of a mouse, and that’s crazy.
DX: Do you think having these tools opens doors in terms of profitability, or does it boil down to work ethic and art?
Vinnie Paz: I believe that it’s the work ethic and the product. If you’re trash, having access to a million people on a Facebook page doesn’t mean shit. I don’t want to say I wish it was ’88 again, but the mid to late ’90’s? The internet still existed, so it could help you — you could talk to someone in Australia easily for instance, but it wasn’t this shit show that it has become now. People with fake names from South Dakota can say “fuck you” who wouldn’t come near you physically in a million years. It’s the gift and the curse.
Jedi Mind Tricks On Tour
DX: You mentioned reaching far away places, and your current tour is mostly US dates except one international date at the very end…Are you planning a separate international tour?
Vinnie Paz: Yeah, this is just the first run, because the summer is a weird time, especially in the U.S. October into November we’ll go to Europe, then I guess Australia in 2016.
DX: Do you have a particular place you really enjoy touring?
Vinnie Paz: I love Scandinavia. It’s mad clean there, and the fans are crazy. I love Oslo. I like Scandinavia a lot because I’m into black metal and it’s basically the home base of it. I’ve gotten to meet some dudes I grew up listening to. The dopest black metal albums in existence came out of Norway.
DX: You’re Sicilian, right? Are you touring in Italy, do you ever do shows there?
Vinnie Paz: Many times, it’s beautiful. All my cousins and aunts and stuff are still over there. But it’s hard to do anything when you’re touring. You check in at the hotel, take a nap, go to the venue… You don’t get to see much.
DX: Do you think that’s a misconception about the rap game? That it isn’t as glamorous as it appears?
Vinnie Paz: The whole experience is glamoros. But long drives, no sleep… There’s a beautiful part of rocking stages and connecting with kids across the world, but the other eighteen hours of your day is terrible.
DX: Stuck doing interviews on the phone in the tour vehicle when you’d rather be sleeping, right?
Vinnie Paz: [Laughs]
DX: How does that work, anyway… You dropped an album and immediately started a tour.
Vinnie Paz: We have a 20 year catalog, so it’s a different animal. If it’s your debut album, then people will stare at you because they don’t know the material. Between my solo records, Jedi Mind Tricks, and Army of the Pharaohs, it’s not something we worry about.
DX: Is there a song you just never get sick of performing?
Vinnie Paz: I think I hate all my songs at this point. I don’t listen to my own shit, that’s weird!
DX: Then what do you listen to?
Vinne Paz Confirms Collaborations With Madlib, Oh No
Vinnie Paz: I torture these guys with death metal, black metal, Van Morrison, soul music, jazz, old school Hip Hop. But mostly I torture them with metal.
DX: Everything that doesn’t sound like what you have to listen to on stage at night?
Vinnie Paz: Exactly, you just articulated it perfectly.
DX: If your own music starts to annoy you, because you hear it over and over, does that motivate your growth as an artist? Do you think that’s part of the reason people will come out after a hiatus sounding totally different than they used to, like Snoop Dogg emerging as Snoop Lion?
Vinnie Paz: I never thought about that in my life but that’s an amazing point. If that’s their motivation, it makes complete sense. Outside of the live show, I don’t hear my own shit, so while I’m joking saying I hate it, it’s not enough to where I can say I hate our sound. It’s just the process of mastering and mixing and writing the songs: By the time the process is done, it’s like an artist selling a painting, they just don’t need to look at it every fucking day. Now it’s the world’s record. Up until release day it was Stoupe and I’s record, and then release day happened and it’s the world’s record. Now we’re already listening to new beats and shit in the car.
DX: Do you think as an artist it’s important to venture out and try something new, to try expressing yourself through a different medium? Do you have anything else you do on the side?
Vinnie Paz: I write about boxing. I go to the fights and cover them. Boxing is like my mistress. I probably think about it more than I do music.
DX: Is there a fight in particular that stood out as your favorite fight you saw live?
Vinnie Paz: My brother and I went to Gatti and Micky Ward, which was called the fight of the century. Doesn’t get any better than that.
DX: On a solo front do you have anything going on?
Vinnie Paz: We’re getting beats together for my solo record, and the main priority is Stoupe’s producer record. We have some really talented people on it so far. It’s not just going to be this prototypical Hip Hop producer rap record. The shit we’ve done is very different and we’re excited about it. I think both albums will probably come out in the first quarter of next year. For my project, I’ve been working with Lord Finesse again, Madlib and Oh No blessed me with some shit. It’s not until this tour is over that I’ll really start digging in.