Vinnie Paz Explains Significance Of DJ Premier Collab, Nocturnal Living & Enemy Soil Records
Exclusive: The Jedi Mind Tricks co-founder explains what he's looking for in regards to his fledgling Enemy Soil label, and connecting with DJ Premier & R.A. The Rugged Man through boxing.
Last month, HipHopDX spoke with Jedi Mind Tricks co-founder Vinnie Paz in Philadelphia's Society Hill section. The on-the-street interview has prompted discussion about Hip Hop, the city and the group's early days. In the final segment, Vinnie spoke about some of the illustrious guests on his sophomore solo album, God Of The Serengeti. Vinnie spoke about his highly-anticipated collaboration with Gang Starr's DJ Premier on "The Oraclre." "I'm a fan first. For me to work with [DJ Premier], and getting to work with Scarface—it's just still humbling. It's just part of being a fan, man. When that fire dies out in you, it's time to stop. That's why you see people who we grew up on that are still incredible, [it is] 'cause their fire is still burning. And you see the people who are going through the motions for the check. It's the baseball player who won't retire, and it applies [to music] too. There's still dudes doing bad shows or not showing up and taking money, and you can tell that the fire is gone."
Filming, Editing & Additional Reporting by Sean Ryon
Vinnie, who is a professional boxing blogger/journalist, spoke about connecting with some of his Hip Hop peers in sports before music. "It's funny how with a lot of people, you end up being friendly with them and it's because of other things. I do some side journalism work for a boxing website as some side-journalism, MaxBoxing.com. And Preem was like, 'Yo, you really know your shit. I'm really into the fights.' And we started talking that way. That's how I met R.A. The Rugged Man—we met via boxing. It's just cool to be a fan, sit back, and be like, 'Yo, I remember riding on the school bus listening to [Gang Starr's] Step In The Arena. I remember [Geto Boys'] Grip It! On Another Level and listening to "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" when it came out.' It's very much something I hold dear to me in regards to where music is capable of taking you. I think that's the most beautiful shit in the world."
Vinnie and Jedi Mind Tricks are among the more commercially successful acts in independent Hip Hop. With Tech N9ne and Strange Music working with Brotha Lynch Hung and Slug and Rhymesayers Entertainment working with MF DOOM, Paz was asked about his plans for Enemy Soil Records. In addition to Vinnie's two solo albums and recent J.M.T. catalog, the Philly-based imprint has released projects by Outerspace and Reef The Lost Cauze. "I'd love to find that young, hungry kid and be the big brother and help them with it just as much as I'd love to work with the people we came up on," revealed Vinnie. "That's the objective. As we're getting older, you have to think about the business side of everything. It turns into, 'This might creatively be the dopest idea, but do people even care about this artist even more?' I do...I still think they're incredible, but does a 19-year-old kid? Is he just going to burn it off of some blog? So everything's gotta be this calculated business move, which I don't like. It gets me down, because I could reel off 10 people that I'd like to put a record out by. I could go in, executive produce it, get these beats and be ready to do it. If I knew all of them would sell and everyone could eat, trust me, it would be happening. But you have to ask if you really want to roll those dice, because we're definitely a boutique label. We're putting out things that we're really emotionally invested in, like the Dutch [A Bright Cold Day] record we did with Stoupe. We really believed in that record. Remember the first time you heard Portishead and you were like, 'What the fuck is this?' It was definitely that kind of feeling. And that's what motivates us to put shit out and get involved with people."
Paz has a 15-year reputation in the hardcore sector of the Hip Hop genre. Filmed joking and approachable, the veteran was asked about the brutal personality he carries in his lyrics and delivery. "If I didn't do music, I'd be the dude doing everything in those records. So this is the way to manifest that behavior that is going on in my head. If I would normally punch some guy dead in the face at a bar, maybe it's better to just go home and write a rhyme," said the emcee who has been known to throw punches during his career. "It's a question of how to put that emotion in it's proper place without getting myself in trouble or upsetting my family."
Vinnie revealed to DX that he is nocturnal. The Philly native's social media activities are often during the evening versus the day, and he requested the film interview be conducted after dark. Asked why, Paz explained, "As for the nocturnal thing, other that what I read about how the sun can effect you and make you happier and things like that, well the sun literally makes me miserable. I just think it's a disdain for people, human nature and being around them. If we did this exact same interview at three o'clock this after noon, it would be totally different. I'd be much more reserved and I wouldn't really want to...I'm just very uncomfortable around people."
Throughout a 20-year career, sometimes the artist has no choice. "I know you're thinking, 'How can you go play in front of 70,000 people at Splash Festival in Germany and then start getting panic attacks in a restaurant where there's 70 people?' Somehow, I separated that. I don't know if it's literally just the stage, and that separation is all that I need. I can't really answer that, and I'd fix it if I could. I don't even know how to rap during the day. If some function were to come up during the day, some Small Wonder robotic shit would probably happen to me if I had to rap during the day. I wouldn't even know what to do if I had to do anything that could be perceived as creative during the day. I would break down."