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Vinnie Paz Brings The Realness on “God Of The Serengeti” (Album Review)Posted by Dharmic X on 10/29/12 | Filed under Opinion, Album Reviews, Vinnie Paz
With that said, there are a lot of really high-quality bodies of work that have slipped under the RefinedHype radar this year. At the end of the day, finding dope music is hard. So with 2012 almost reaching its conclusion, I thought I would begin to review albums that have slipped through the cracks. If you haven’t given them a listen, I would encourage you to check ‘em out after reading my breakdown.
What better way to start than with the album that really inspired this column idea, "God of the Serengeti" by Vinnie Paz.
The album dropped this Monday, October 22, and so obviously got lost in the whirlwind of promotion that surrounded a recent release from Aftermath Records. Not that Vinnie Paz gives a fuck. On God of the Serengeti, Paz demonstrates that he’s not in the business to compete with Kendrick Lamar, or with anybody really. On this 18-cut album, Paz is just providing fans of his gritty delivery and hard body sound exactly what they’re looking for: hard-body bangers.
The lead single of this project, “Cheesesteaks,” is the embodiment of what this album stands for. Psycho Les of the Beatnuts crafts a beat that is an instant head-banger, complete with a haunting humming sound reverberating underneath the bassline. Paz meanwhile goes off, never wavering from his style of rap. The rhymes are hard and aggressive, but it’s not just stereotypical or backwards gun-talk or death threats. Paz shows that he’s a complete human being (albeit one dealing with issues) with lines like “I’m a manic depressant, never get excited at all.”
The beauty of Vinnie Paz’s content, whether solo or as a part of Jedi Mind Tricks, has been his ability to balance the angriness with introspection. Take for example the beautiful record “Keep Moving On” off of his first solo project, Season of the Assasin. Paz once again gets introspective on "God of the Serengeti", but this time it is with a more optimistic tone on the Illinformed-produced cut, “Jake LaMotta.” After going through the trials and tribulations that he has experienced to establish himself as a dominant force in the underground, Paz takes a moment to appreciate where he stands right now.
By far the craziest record on the project is the seven-minute closing song, “You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train.” The beat is perhaps the “softest” on the album, but it serves as a perfect soundscape for Paz’s no-holds barred analysis of the class warfare that has raged on the hemisphere, starting with Columbus and reaching the twenty-first century. It’s an incredible concept; it’s only a shame that it’s so long and likely off-putting for many.
That’s essentially the only drawback to "God of the Serengeti": the eighteen songs can kind of get repetitive after awhile, with banger after banger losing luster in the collection of records. It can become too much for anyone who is not a diehard fan of this style of music (which I happen to be). Perhaps records like the posse cut “Battle Hymn” could have been placed on the next Army of the Pharoahs record instead.
That said, the features all fit the album well and there isn’t a single MC that doesn’t come correct on the microphone. Standouts include collaborations with the legendary Kool G. Rap (“Wolves Amongst the Sheep”) and Scarface (“Problem Solver”), and sadly, perhaps the last Mobb Deep track we will ever hear (“Duel to the Death.”) That said, one could definitely make the case that there is one collaboration too many on the album.
Meanwhile, production is "God of the Serengeti"’s strongsuit. All-star beatmakers such as Les, Havoc, and DJ Lethal join forces with the vastly underrated C-Lance, among others, to provide a soundscape that simply does not miss a beat and hits hard. Yes, the elegance and complexity of Stoupe is gone, but I don’t think one can complain about the production on this album, especially when you consider that this is not a Jedi Mind Tricks LP. Hell, Paz managed to secure the best DJ Premier beat we’ve heard in YEARS on “The Oracle,” the second single on the album.
All-in-all, "God of the Serengeti" is a solid body of work, and perhaps even the solution to boom-bap enthusiasts’ concerns regarding the beat selection on "Good Kid M.a.a.D City". It is definitely not an album from everybody, but if you’re into hard beats and hard rhymes, you’d be amiss to sleep on this album.
(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: Tracing Jedi Mind Trick’s “Trail of Lies”