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Vinnie Paz, God of the Serengeti

In the opening moments of God of the Serengeti, Vinnie Paz, the voice behind Jedi Mind Tricks, reminds us who’s in charge with a sample from what sounds like an old Hollywood epic involving a newly crowned King scolding his followers for questioning the authority of his predecessor. It sets the stage appropriately for the veteran MC’s trademark rugged, paternalistic, even Pharoah-like vocal presence on his sophomore effort.

Like his debut Season of the Assassin, God of the Serengeti is a hip-hop star-studded affair, with appearances by the likes of Immortal Technique, DJ Premier, Kool G Rap, Mobb Deep, Scarface, La Coka Nostra, Marco Polo, and R.A. The Rugged Man, to name a few. Those features work in Paz’s favor, as they break the monotony of his rugged delivery while not overshadowing his vocal presence.

The production on God of the Serengeti is strong across the board. Contributions by both newcomers like C-Lance and mainstays like DJ Premier, Havoc and Psycho Les of The Beatnuts add to the album’s versatility and appeal. The vast majority of the music is sinister and gritty. When combined with Paz’s raspy, rapid-fire delivery, it creates a fitting tone reminiscent of Big Pun’s relentlessness on tracks like “Beware” and “The Dream Shatterer.” This is no accident, as Paz himself calls the album a tribute to the late Bronx MC.

Paz’s bars consistently balance mindless violence with clever wordplay, and common topics include history, religion, decapitation, and tragedies involving planes. On “And Your Blood Will Blot Out the Sun,” the Roman-Catholic born Sunni Muslim convert raps confusingly, “A nation of intellectuals, a nation of thugs/Jesus is hate, a nation of Satan is love!” On “Slum Chemist,” he raps: “You should never fuck with the Monster (Vinnie P)/You’ll crash like la la la bamba,” referring—of course—to the untimely death of songwriter Ritchie Valens by plane crash on what has become referred to as “The Day the Music Died.” On “Jake LaMotta”—which features one of the brighter backdrops—Paz speaks on how good he feels and how well all of the people in his life are doing. But, as expected, before the end of the first verse, he is already, “Knock[ing] buildings over like [he] was Osama on flights.”

While Paz’s raspy flow and violent imagery are generally coherent and amusing enough, there are a few head-scratchers sprinkled throughout. Such as, ”I don’t believe in crying at all/I’m a manic depressive—never get excited at all,” and, “The bible is gone/you are watching a Viking perform,” on “Cheesesteaks.”

While God of the Serengeti doesn’t blaze any new ground, it is a release that will hold up to the Paz’s legacy on the underground scene and will surely satisfy long-time fans. —Nick De Molina (@odmod)

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  • MrMaye

    SMH, this album deserves an XL rating.

  • hippaToDaHoppa

    I agree on the lack of orginality, but the lyrics should be a XXL, so this was definitely an XL effort overall.

  • WillyAckz

    Stop hatin XXL the underground is where it’s at. Just because a rapper doesn’t have mainstream balls in his mouth doesn’t mean he’s not dope… actually it usually means he’s really dope. Just asking for a little consistency. These reviews aren’t supposed to be based on popularity or swag.

  • ceL

    RA the Rugged Man BODIES his verse!

  • Casper Tucker

    I have 2 problems with this review:

    1: Mentioning his religious background in conjunction with an opinionated description of your interpretation of his lyrics invalidates your credibility as a serious reviewer. There is nothing confusing about describing a nation that has a horrible foreign policy as a ‘nation of thugs’ who may as well hate ideas of ‘Jesus’ and in fact ‘worship satan’.
    2: The lyrics you quote on Cheesesteaks are not ‘head scratchers’. The lyrics are a tongue in cheek ironic self assessment of being hypocritical by using hypocritical lyrics (to be even more ironic).

    You are welcome to listen to music that you don’t understand, but don’t mislead the public by working for a well known rap magazine.

    I’ll finish by saying I don’t care about the album and I’m not really a fan of Vinnie Paz, just had to say something as this review is no good.

    • pjean

      i feel you on the first part, but how is a line about being a manic depressive and not getting excited not a head-scratcher? dope album tho

      • Casper Tucker

        yeah word.

        Well “manic depressive” = extreme periods of excitement.
        and “never get excited at all” = direct contradiction of that.

        it fits in with ‘hypocrite that fight to be calm, life is just torn, bi-polar – icey and warm” etc.

        i mean, it is stupid, no doubt, but that was obviously his intention. Maybe Vinnie should stop being ironic?


  • WDKXnowDKSex

    The only head scratcher I had was:
    “A couple rappers wanna beef they respectfully die/They ended up loosing they teeth but I left ‘em alive”

    • Rawc0ke

      ur dumb.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ExplizitContent Michelle Bartlett

    Why is this getting a L? XXL has lost ALL credibility to me a long time ago.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EULMCNWNJWVTR6ZSMWL2LBJVAY Token B

    This album is GREAT! While it lacked a bit in the originality dept (which I have no prob with on this album) the lyricism is raw and unparalled. Its a history lesson. This is REAL hip hop.

  • los angeles

    bullshit review asap copy had wack bars but he is more original get the fuck out of hear guess if you have the money to pay this mag they will write what ever for you dope albulm xl for me