"Beats and rhymes." Somehow, the concept has come to define the "underground" in hip-hop, and this development is consistently baffling. That a group like Philly's Jedi Mind Tricks -- with a strict adherence to the edict of strong lyrics delivered amazingly and hard beats delivered elegantly -- is considered "revolutionary" is bizarre, but it's the way of the world. Featuring rhyme-slayers like Ras Kass, Canibus, Tragedy Khadafi and Kool G Rap (who made the JMT single "Animal Rap" such an instant classic) doesn't detract from the abilities of rapper Vinnie Paz, who is more than capable of delivering complex verses with an indisputable insouciance. Production from Stoupe is equally strong and subtle, with seemingly straightforward beats that turn out to be deceptively rich constructions of sound.
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