We all needed a break from Jedi Mind Tricks — you, me, gay-rights activists, and even Stoupe and Vinnie Paz. On the other paw, though, there wasn't a fan among us who didn't fear that the Pazmanian Devil might charge full speed in reverse without his trusty beat conductor to tame him. Fortunately, his first official solo project (which also happens to be his debut on his new Enemy Soil imprint) finds the Philly flamethrower punching the outer limits of his range without breaking character. Don't worry — there's no Auto-Tune or clumsy dance synth outliers.
Anger remains the Earth around which all of Vinnie's topics orbit. Yet, with help from some of hip-hop's top beat behemoths, he dishes haste in a variety of flavors. He battles on a Shuko war cloud ("Beautiful Love"), polishes a Bronze Nazareth diamond ("Role of Life"), gets conspiratorial with Stu Bangas ("Monster's Ball"), and rocks powerful posse cuts with DC the Midi Alien and R.A. the Rugged Man ("Nosebleed"), C-Lance and Beanie Sigel ("Kill 'Em All"), and many more, from Ill Bill to Clipse. Even the Madlib-spun "Aristotle's Dilemma" — a questionable collabo if there ever was one — is a winner. And "Keep Movin' On" and "Ain't Shit Changed" are two of Vinnie's most mature autobiographical efforts yet.
What's more, the Enemy Soil dynasty just begins with Paz. Reef the Lost Cauze and production duo Guns-N-Butter reflect a similar clever roughneck dynamic with Fight Music. On all but a few cuts, Stu Bangas and J Scrilla inject the medicine that Reef needs to fly, and the MC responds with everything from "Trigger Talk" to lessons like "Get Me Outta Here." And if it's still just Stoupe's operatic piano glory that you crave, then look for the producer's Dutch project with lounge-flavored folkster Liz Fullerton, A Bright Cold Day, which gloriously rounds out the introductory Enemy Soil triumvirate.