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Jedi Mind Tricks (JMT) is an underground hip hop duo from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded by two high school friends, rapper Vinnie Paz (Vincenzo Luvineri) and producer Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind (Kevin Baldwin). In 1999 second rapper Jus Allah joined the group to record their second studio album, Violent by Design. Allah left the group shortly after, but returned in 2008 for the sixth studio album, A History of Violence. In 2011 Stoupe left the group because "his heart wasn't in making JMT records anymore". In 2013, Allah left again, and Stoupe returned in 2015.
DJ Kwestion mainly scratches choruses on the turntable. Kwestion is also a part of the group Skratch Makaniks. Kwestion, who is the tour DJ, was a replacement for JMT's previous DJ, Drew Dollars, who is no longer affiliated with the group.
JMT has collaborations with both regional MCs and rap veterans, including GZA, Kool G Rap, 7L & Esoteric, Sean Price, Ras Kass, Canibus, Percee P, Killah Priest, Immortal Technique, Virtuoso, Louis Logic, R.A. the Rugged Man, Tragedy Khadafi, Chief Kamachi and Ill Bill. The group has sold over 250,000 albums in the United States and 450,000 albums worldwide, all of which were released independently.
1996-1997: Amber Probe EP and Psycho-Social LP
JMT officially debuted with the Amber Probe EP.
"The Psycho-Social, Chemical, Biological, And Electro-Magnetic Manipulation Of Human Consciousness" known as "The Psycho-Social" for short was released under Superregular Recordings and was JMT's first full-length LP. It featured 12 tracks and 6 bonus tracks.
1998-2000: Five Perfect Exertions EP and Violent By Design
Prior to the release of their first LP, Vinnie Paz had conceived the idea of forming a rotating, collaborative super-group of underground East Coast artists called the Army of the Pharaohs (AotP). 1998 saw the first result of these efforts in The Five Perfect Exertions EP. The release featured Virtuoso, 7L & Esoteric, Chief Kamachi and Bahamadia as well as Vinnie Paz himself. The EP was later remixed for JMT's next LP, Violent by Design (2000), albeit without Chief Kamachi's verse.
The LP was originally titled "Polymatrix: Reincarnation of the Hologramic Christ". Vinnie Paz became noticeably more aggressive, abandoning his cosmic, paranoid rhyme style from The Psycho-Social CD for more violent lyrics. The LP also introduced Jus Allah, a founding member of JMT who had left for college but dropped out a short while after. A self-proclaimed five-percenter, Jus was present on every non-AotP track on Violent by Design as JMT's unofficial third member. Most of the lyrics in Violent By Design show Jus and Paz describing exaggerated ways of killing people as well as their metaphorical superhuman powers. Typically, they do this by combining themes of hardcore/gangsta rap with mythological or fantasy imagery.
The list of guest artists on this album was also their longest, including Mr. Lif, Planetary of OuterSpace, Louis Logic, Diamondback, Philip King Rappah,Coffee Gangsta Child L-Fudge, B.A. Barakus, J-Treds, Killa Sha, C-Baz and Tragedy Khadafi, plus a couple of odd phone-call interludes by Mr. Len.
During the course of Violent by Design's 1999–2000 recording period, Paz changed his alias to Vinnie Paz, inspired by the boxer of the same name. The reason for this has been reported to be the result of a short-lived rivalry instigated by fellow Philly underground rapper iCON the Mic King. Vinnie Paz decided to settle on his new moniker in order to prevent any further confusion. It was also around this time that he formally declared himself to be a follower of Islam, alluding to this fact several times on record.
2001-2003: Visions of Gandhi
In late 2001, JMT was made an offer by Babygrande Records founder Chuck Wilson to sign a deal. Jus Allah's uncertainty caused him to leave the group on good terms. Stoupe and Vinnie Paz closed their homegrown Superegular label and migrated to Babygrande. Before his White Nightmare EP on Virtuoso's "Omnipotent Records" label, Jus was somewhat isolated from the entire Philadelphia underground scene; the two sides wouldn't talk to each other for over three years. Virtuoso was also estranged from JMT and AOTP for his support of Jus, among other reasons.
Mid-2003 saw the release of JMT's third LP, Visions of Gandhi. In an interview, Vinnie Paz said the title was inspired by Foxy Brown's verse in Nas's song "Affirmative Action", and expresses the need for a prominent figure of non-violent social change such as Gandhi in a post-9/11 world.
Stoupe, now supplied with a professional studio in New York, also expanded his variety of production, incorporating grand orchestral samples and a stronger Latin feel. In response, some longtime fans felt let down by Vinnie Paz's lyricism and delivery, as well as the abundance of slick, upbeat loops adopted by Stoupe. Nevertheless, the album helped expand the group's audience as its popularity and commercial success continued to grow.
2004-2006: Legacy of Blood and Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell
A little over a year later, JMT continued their creative streak with Legacy of Blood, this time intentionally keeping guest artists to a minimum. Carrying with them their lessons from Gandhi, Stoupe and Vinnie tried to strike a balance between the past two albums. Vinnie Paz also added a more personal aspect to his lyrics, most notably in the last song "Before the Great Collapse".
In February, 2005, Babygrande officially announced that Jus Allah had signed on to the label after reconciling with his former partners. Babygrande released his long-awaited debut LP, All Fates Have Changed, in May of that year. However, after a dispute with label CEO Chuck Wilson soon after the album's release, Jus left Babygrande and denied any new association with JMT.
In March, 2006, a reunited Army of the Pharaohs released The Torture Papers LP. The crew now consisted of Vinnie Paz, Chief Kamachi, 7L & Esoteric, Apathy, Celph Titled, Planetary & Crypt the Warchild of Outerspace, King Syze, Faez One, Reef the Lost Cauze, and new Jedi Mind Tricks hype-man Des Devious. This time, however, Virtuoso and Bahamadia were not featured and are no longer associated with the Army.
The fifth Jedi Mind Tricks album, titled Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell, was released on September 19, 2006. The release coincided with the beginning of the album's supportive tour, which kicked off in New York City's Time Square. The album was widely acclaimed, unlike the group's two previous albums, which both received mixed reviews. A large part of the acclaim was due to the album's lyrical and musical diversity, both missing from their previous efforts. The album featured the single "Heavy Metal Kings" with Ill Bill, the Shara Worden-assisted "Razorblade Salvation", and the storytelling track "Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story" with R.A. The Rugged Man. A day after the release of the album, Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks did an interview with The Breakdown, a show on ItsHipHop.tv where he discussed the album and his thoughts on Jus Allah.
In early 2006, rumors spread that the group had reunited with estranged member Jus Allah, and that he would be featured on Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell, but no collaboration appeared. However, on September 20, 2006 a newly recorded Jedi Mind Tricks/Jus Allah collaboration, produced by Brods, titled "The Rebuilding" appeared online. In a January 2007 interview Paz stated that Jus would be featured on the group's upcoming sixth album, titled A History of Violence. Jus Allah, Doap Nixon and Demoz were added to the AotP roster in 2007, and contributed verses to the group's second studio album Ritual of Battle, which was released on September 25, 2007. Also, in summer 2008, Jedi Mind Tricks' Label, Babygrande, released a JMT DVD. "With a 12+ year career under their belt and a continually growing rabid fan base, the history of Jedi Mind Tricks has never been officially documented...until summer 2008, "Divine Fire: The Story of Jedi Mind Tricks DVD," promises an insightful excursion into the roots of an underground empire." This is from Babygrande's Newsletter.
2007-2009: Reunion with Jus Allah and A History of Violence
In an interview conducted in September 2007 on the Art of Rhyme website, Jus Allah announced that he has rejoined Jedi Mind Tricks. In the interview he states that "I'm back in the group [and that] I'm focused on... putting out the next Jedi Mind Tricks album... a History of Violence." A History of Violence (album) was released on November 11, 2008. This album would be the last JMT album released on Babygrande Records.
2010-2013: Enemy Soil, Violence Begets Violence, departure of Stoupe and Jus Allah
After a long time dispute with Babygrande Records, JMT decided to part ways and form their own record label entitled Enemy Soil. Enemy Soil features artists such as JMT, Reef the Lost Cauze, Dutch (the side group of Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind), and Army of the Pharaohs.
Vinnie Paz released his first solo album Season of the Assassin (album) on June 22, 2010. Jus Allah is in the works of releasing his second solo album entitled MMA (Meanest Man Alive). Stoupe released the album for his group, Dutch, (which features Liz Fullerton on vocals) entitled A Bright Cold Day (album) on June 8, 2010. Army of the Pharaohs released their third album as well entitled The Unholy Terror on March 30, 2010.
It was announced that JMT would be creating a new title called Violence Begets Violence. This album marks the first album without Stoupe behind production. Vinnie Paz stated in a blog on the JMT website that Stoupe has lost the inspiration for Hip-Hop and decided to focus on other things in his career, such as his sidegroups, and that Stoupe would not be producing any of the tracks on the new JMT album. Vinnie Paz stated that there is no conflict between the two and if Stoupe wants to be part of the next album, Paz would welcome him back. JMT has since gotten numerous producers to fill in the slot and released a new single from the album entitled "Target Practice". The new album was released on October 25, 2011.
In November 2013, one of the first acts on Stoupe's new production company, Bad Tape Music, Red Martina released their debut Intransit with Stoupe as the producer on all thirteen tracks. Other band members are rapper Noesis (from Philadelphia Slick), multi-instrumentalist Ish Quintero, and vocalist Hayley Cass.
Jus Allah had left the group along with leaving the supergroup Army of the Pharaohs. The reason for his departure has not been disclosed.
2014-Present: Return of Stoupe, The Thief and the Fallen
On November 7, 2014, JMTHIPHOP.com confirmed Stoupe's return to Jedi Mind Tricks. On November 27th, 2014, a post on jmthiphop.com revealed that Vinnie Paz and Stoupe would be returning as Jedi Mind Tricks in 2015.
Their new album "The Thief and the Fallen" was released on June 2, 2015.
Jedi Mind Tricks