The Break Present: Vinnie Paz
Hip-hop veteran and Philly native Vinnie Paz has been killing the underground game for a while now. He's been putting out heat as a solo artist and as a member of groups like Army of the Pharaohs, Heavy Metal Kings and Jedi Mind Tricks. Known for his raw and gritty rhymes, the Italian rapper has been putting out heat and is about to go on tour in Europe and Australia. For those who don't know him, now is the time to.
Name: Vinnie Paz
Hometown: South Philly
I grew up listening to: Schoolly D, Cool C, Hilltop Hustlers, Rakim, Slayers, I have older brother that were into Metal and Hardcore and stuff. My brother got “Sucker MC’s” in 1983. I was six and he was 17 so I was exposed early.
I have a fear of manual labor. I’m just not cut out for it. Some muthafuckas love jail and just keep going back, some man is like fuck this, I’m never going back, that’s how I felt about a 9-5; not just manual labor. I felt like I wasn’t cut out for that shit and coming from my pop dying so young and breaking his back to provide and watching my parents work, I said, well I don’t know what I’m going to do but I know what I’m not going to do. Writing super young, just honing the craft. In high school when everyone was talking about college, I said, I’m not doing that so what am I going to do. It was really early when I said [rapping] is what I’m going to do. There is no plan B, I don’t believe in that. I know that might be irresponsible but I think because I don’t believe in the concept of a plan b, I could thrive. The fear of that world, the working world, the 9-5, the cubicle, it was enough of a fear to motivate me. Fear is never bad if it’s a motivator it’s just how you use it.
Most people don’t know: I think diehard fans know that I’m close to my mother, but its like next level Italian mama’s boy shit, we hang out, watch fights together. Obliviously everyone loves his or her mom but she’s my best friend.
My style has been compared to: I think like throwback ‘90s music, golden era rap. I’m not saying that’s how I approach it. But I think that’s what people as categorized it as. Sample heavy, hard beats, hard rhymes, Ultramagnetic, Wu-Tang, paying homage to the golden era, maybe that’s what our sound is, a homage to a era to I love.
I never thought about it. Mainly because when I don’t listen to my music; when it’s done, it’s done. Similar to when an artist paints a painting and the next day it’s sold, that was it. I love it, I’m proud of it but I think it’s kind of self-indulgent and flat out bizarre when people drive around and listen to their own music. That’s just me.
Standout records and/or moments to date: We did the Montréal Jazz festival and Clyde Davis and Coltrane had performed there. The guy whose been running it since the late 1960s—he passed away last year, God rest his soul, brought us into the room of everyone who had played there for the past 40-plus years. So that whole weekend was surreal. Being in Montréal and rocking with Raphael Saadiq, the whole thing was surreal. Listening to Miles like I did, Coltrane, it was just surreal to be asked to perform there. It was beautiful man.
My goal in hip-hop is: to continue what we’ve been doing, doing things our way, punk rock ethic. In terms of we’re not affected by pop culture, or current trends in any music, we’re not affected by any of that. We done it our way, self-contained, so my goal is to just continue that and cultivate it further and continue to be proud that we did it without anyone’s help against the odds. The goal is to just stay on course.
I’m going to be the next: Charles Bukowski, because he drank so much and wrote a lot. [Laughs]