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The Immersion: Tracing Jedi Mind Trick’s “Trail of Lies”Posted by Dharmic X on 10/11/12 | Filed under Opinion, The Immersion
I knew that I had a chance for long term success by chasing my educational potential, and so I buckled down and started ace-ing my three Advanced Placement courses, amazing my peers in these classes who had assumed I was a knucklehead based off of reputation (although I still wasn’t exactly the most serious of students in the classroom, especially if I could get away with it).
I spent time reading the news, examining articles for biases and doing background research to follow up on topics such as hot-button issue of the year, Somali piracy. I had also started to critically examine the Presidential election of 2008, seeing the flaws in the candidates of both sides. By the time Barack Obama had been elected, achieving a historical milestone that cannot be denied ever, I was already feeling apprehensive about the future, which was further augmented by articles like this.
I had started delving deeper into Immortal Technique’s catalog in the summer of 2008, and by the time November rolled around he was undisputedly my favorite artist, to the point that I bought his T-Shirt, even though the black tee had sold out and I never wear white tees (The t-shirt is still in my closet, and it’s now been signed by Poison Pen). Meanwhile, through Technique, I’d finally discovered Ill Bill, and through him I found out about the La Coka Nostra movement and his previous work with Non-Phixion.
It was only a matter of time before I stumbled gravel-voiced duo of Vinnie Paz and Jus Allah, backed by the majestically rich soundscape of Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind...
Luckily for me, November of 2008 marked the release of Jedi Mind Tricks’ sixth album. For the group, this marked a time of many transitions: this was the first album since 1999 to include Jus completely, the last album on long time home Babygrande Records, and sadly, the last album produced by Stoupe.
At the time “Monolith” came out, I didn’t know any of this. And I really didn’t give a fuck.
The track was sinister, haunting with the female vocal sample while providing a boom-bap kick with the bassline. Meanwhile, the rhymes were fierce and aggressive, matched in equal measure by the gritty edge in the delivery of both MCs. I became a fan instantly. And so when the album came out, I eagerly listened to the project from start to finish, immersing myself in banger after banger. What separated A History of Violence from any run-of-the-mill “Hardcore rap album” was the sound and the substance. This was best exemplified by “Trail of Lies.”
The beat is smooth, with Stoupe finding a beautiful vocal sample to serve as the hook, “In the land of make-believe you are mine, in the land of make-believe I’m doing fine.” The flute riffs that are interspersed throughout simply enhance the track. Meanwhile, Paz gets reflective on both verses of the song, breaking down the negative influence pop culture and media has on children. The first verse details issues of self-consciousness that little girls have when watching artificial images of what it means to be “pretty,” and the ultimate consequences of child actors eventually losing control of their lifestyles. “And what’s gonna become of them in like fifty years, when Hannah Montana turns into Britney Spears?” the Philly native asks, and just a few years later, the answers are already starting to emerge.
In his second verse, Paz brings up television’s glorification of the military and the police to emphasize the manipulation that is going on in the brains of young boys. Ultimately, he brings the verse to the root source of problems in his eyes: the hypocrisy of government. “They sell drugs in commercials at the same time,” Paz says in his poignant concluding line, “Lock a mothafucka up for the same crime.”
It’s songs like this that have always separated Vinnie Paz and Jedi Mind Tricks from his peers. "A History of Violence" and “Trail of Tears” was my first exposure, and although I was to come across the remainder of the catalog much later in life, it would certainly serve as inspiration during a dark and turbulent chapter down the road. Regardless, I had found my triumvirate of Immortal Technique, Ill Bill, and Vinnie Paz, and there was nothing you could tell me about any of those three heroes in my eyes, and anyone affiliated with them...
(DJ Dharmic X is the host of This Culture Never Dies, 11PM-1AM Saturday on wnyu.org. Fans and haters, can follow him on Twitter and check him out on Facebook.)
See Also: The Immersion: Remembering When Ludacris Was Rap’s “MVP”