HipHopSite: Let’s start by talking about the new album “Legacy Of Blood”, dropping September 21. How does this album differ from “Visions Of Gandhi” and “Violent By Design”?
Paz: We did “Violent By Design” in our home studio, and basically recorded it and mixed it ourselves. Then with “Visions Of Gandhi” we recorded it in New York for six months, just basically living up there and doing that album in one of the biggest studio’s in the country. A lot of classic rap records were made there; Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, LL. So it was our first time working with real expensive equipment and an engineer. We worked with Chris Conaway, who did the Marshall Mathers LP, and he won a Grammy for that. Basically with this new album, we stayed in Philly the whole time. So I think the biggest difference is we recorded with our man Scott Stallone at a studio in the heart of Philly. So when we came up with an idea we could go right to the studio. I think saying in your environment where you grew up influences your record. New York influenced the record last time because thatâ€™s where we were during the creative process. All the creative process this time around is in Philly, so that is the biggest difference.
HipHopSite: I heard that this album is going to have you rocking solo more than your previous efforts, is that true?
Paz: Yeah. Sean Price, Killah Priest and Gza are on the album, but other than that its just me solo. We just figured we would make a more back to basics, simple record. Keep it a little more in house this time. So we did three collab joints and the rest is just me and Stoupe.
HipHopSite: Is the reason you are going more solo on this album is because you feel you don’t get the credit for being a crazy emcee in your own right?
Paz: Yeah, possibly. I donâ€™t know if it was a conscious decision, but I think somewhere in the back of my head I felt as if I had to prove myself. I didn’t really think of it while we were recording anything, but now that its done maybe I was thinking, “Look, I’m gonna hold down the bulk of this and show and prove”.
HipHopSite: You got the first single with Gza, “On The Eve Of War”, so how did that come about?
Paz: We actually did a show together in Brooklyn for “Music For America”. They are basically an organization that is trying to get young people to vote and are trying to get Bush out of office and what not. So we met there, exchanged numbers and planned on doing a joint together. But he ended up going to Europe for a few months, so I didn’t know if it was going to happen. But he got back in town and we sent him the beat and he liked it, and thatâ€™s how it happened.
HipHopSite: So did Gza just mail in his verse or did he come to the studio with you guys?
Paz: No, for that particular joint I wasn’t there. We were there for the other joints with Sean Price and Killah Priest, but the Gza joint he recorded in New York.
HipHopSite: The b-side to that joint is crazy, “Before The Great Collapse”. So for people who haven’t heard it, can you tell us the concept behind it and what inspired you to write it?
Paz: The concept is basically a suicide note to my mother. It has been something I have been fooling around with for the past couple of albums but I never did it. But Stoupe gave me the beat and I thought it would be the perfect beat to do it to. I guess the science behind it was, there has been a lot of joints made about peoples pain and whatnot, so I was trying to find an original way to do that. Because its not like no one has ever poured their heart out on a record, it has happened before. But I was just trying to find a different way to do it. So that is just the way it came out.
HipHopSite: Have you ever felt that way, like life is too hard and it would be better off just to end it all?
Paz: I think at some point everyone has been there, whether they want to admit it or not. I guess you could say its semi autobiographical, because everyone I am talking about in the song is real, and a lot of the specific incidents I am bringing up are real. Sometimes people think that if you have a good job you are happy, or if you are a musician you are happy. But its not always about that. I think everyone comes to a point in their life where they feel like they have a void to fill.
HipHopSite: I haven’t seen the track listing for the album yet, so can you tell us about some of the other songs you have on the album?
Paz: The song with Sean Price is called “Beyond The Gates Of Pain”, the song with Killah Priest is called “Savoir Self”. Its actually savior, like how they say Jesus was a savoir, so itâ€™s a play on words. So those are the other two joints I did with other people. There are a bunch of solo joints I did, one of them is called “The Age Of Sacred Terror”, another one is “Scars Of The Crucifix”. There is a bunch of joints, but I don’t even have the real copy right now so I’m forgetting some of the songs.
HipHopSite: Going back to “Visions Of Gandhi”, how did you feel when you heard critics or fans say they weren’t feeling some of the Latin influenced beats on the album?
Paz: Well, to be honest with you, it was sort of surprising because if people ever heard our other stuff, they would know there has always been Latin influences in our music. On “Violent By Design” there was “Muerte”, which was like a straight Spanish song. The b-side to my solo record “Raw Is War” was “Language Is Fatal”, which was a complete Spanish song. So I was kind of shocked that people were surprised by that, especially since Stoupe is Puerto Rican. Its weird with critics, the more you sell or the bigger you get, the more criticism you get. It would appear to the average person that “Visions Of Gandhi” was our most criticized album, but its also the one that sold the most. Obviously some people liked it, but there is always going to be critics and haters, that is just the nature of the game.
HipHopSite: Do you think it is fair that every Jedi Mind Tricks album is going to be compared to the classic “Violent By Design”?
Paz: I guess that is the nature of the beast man. Everything Nas does for the rest of his career is going to be compared to “Illmatic”. Everything Jay-z does is going to be compared to “Reasonable Doubt”. I don’t think you can really expect someone to make the same record twice. Our newest record, “Legacy Of Blood”, is probably the closest to giving those “Violent By Design” fans what they want. Its more of a return to early 90′s boom bap. Just me and Stoupe with real raw dirty beats. So yeah, I think its unfair, but itâ€™s the nature of the beast. But I think people are going to be real happy with this record, so I try not to think about that.
HipHopSite: Speaking of Stoupe, he is a real mysterious and quiet guy, so why is he rarely heard from?
Paz: Its just his personality, its not by design. He’s been like that since the day I met him. He would rather have his music do the talking and he is definitely more inclined to speak through his music because that is his outlet. I have always been the more vocal one, so there has always been an understanding between the both of us for the past 12 years that anything that has to do with the media or journalism I am going to handle. And technical things, like buying the equipment and getting the tours ready is sort of his responsibility. So we sort of divide the weight of responsibility and just split them to fit our personalities.
HipHopSite: Do you know if he has any plans to do some outside production, or start working with more artists?
Paz: Actually, I am going to be working on the Army Of The Pharaohs record, so he is working on this record, which is sort of going to be a Portishead/Sade type record with this female singer from San Diego. So yeah, he has some outside work coming up. But besides that, the other stuff is still in the air, so I don’t want to blow his spot up yet. But he is definitely doing that singer record and he is also going to put together an instrumental album of just original and new beats.
HipHopSite: And the Army Of The Pharaohs album, is that going to come out next year?
Paz: Yeah, early 2005. We actually have about six or seven beats right now. We are about to go on the road in about 10 days, on the 25th, so a lot of us in the group will be on the road together, so we are going to formulate some of the songs and as soon as we get back we will record. We already got beats from Choco, this cat from Germany, Celph Titled, 7L and Panik from the Molemen is going to be doing some beats. So we will have that out in early 2005.
HipHopSite: What’s going on with you and Jus Allah, are you guys ever gonna work together again?
Paz: I don’t know man, I haven’t talked to him in mad long. The way I see it, he was responsible for everything that happened. I’m basically at the point now where I’m too old to hold grudges, but he definitely owes Stoupe and I an apology. If he is man enough to do that, then we can talk. Because we were friends for along time outside of this music shit, so it wasn’t just a business thing, it was a personal thing. So he has to holla at me and apologize, then we can talk about working together.
HipHopSite: On a lighter note, would you rather drink or smoke?
HipHopSite: Why is that?
Paz: Weed makes me paranoid man. And I’m already paranoid as it is, so I would rather drink a 40.
HipHopSite: What is your favorite type of drink?
Paz: St. Ides dog, 13 years I been drinking that.
HipHopSite: If you could fight any one celebrity who would it be?
Paz: Usher! But it wouldn’t be a fight, it would be a beat down. It is just something about that motherfucker, I hate him! I hate that dude. (laughter)
HipHopSite: Who is the worst rapper in the game right now?
Paz: Damn, your killing me. I don’t know the exact name of them, but whenever I am in the barbershop there is this song about white tees.
HipHopSite: Oh, the Franchise Boyz (Laughter)
Paz: That is like the worst shit I have ever heard in my life.
HipHopSite: Yo, that song is stupid.
Paz: On my word, that is the worst song ever. And Philly is the home of white tees, so all me and my crew rock is white tees, but that shit is terrible dog!
HipHopSite: They talk about you can have a circle or a v neck.
Paz: Yeah (emphatic laughter).
HipHopSite: Outside of your crew, who would you say is the best rapper right now?
Paz: I would say Jay, but he is retired, so I am going to say Jadakiss.
HipHopSite: How proud are you of Outerspace and their new album, as its definitely one of the best underground releases of the year?
Paz: That is basically asking someone how proud they are of their brother. First and foremost, we are all family. I treat their kids like mine, the same thing with our moms. Our moms treat us like one big family. Their kids call me tio, which is Spanish for uncle, so that is just my family. Anything they do as men I am proud of, and the fact that we got to work on that record together, and got a bunch of talented producers, and made a real solid album, I couldn’t be more proud. I am as proud as them doing a good record as I would be proud of myself doing a good record. They are my people and they will always be my people, and first and foremost, friendship comes first. And we have done a really good job at separating business from friendship, and being successful with what we are doing.
HipHopSite: Are you going to be voting this November in the Presidential Election?
HipHopSite: Who do you think is going to win?
Paz: Ahhh man, I do not want to say this, but I think Bush is going to win. I’m just being realistic, because I am seeing the polls and it looks like they are leaning towards Bush. I don’t know how that is possible. I don’t know how people in this country cannot see the things that this man has done to this country and other countries, because he is basically a tyrant. But I am going to vote on November 2nd, and vote for Kerry and hope that enough young people have an understanding on what is going around them and do the same. And that is why we are going on the Legacy Of Blood tour on the 25th, and we are going to have representatives from Music For America at every show registering young people to vote. Because we want people to get out there and get Bush out of the White House.
HipHopSite: What do you think is going to happen to this country is Bush wins again?
Paz: You know what, I donâ€™t know what will happen, but I know that anyone with intelligence will just have that feeling of always being frightened. He is basically a war monger, and he is admittedly a war President. There were no weapons of mass destruction, and he basically had a chip on his shoulder from the whole situation between Sadaam and his father. So we are dealing with a President who’s whole presidency has been based on grudges, and I think that is a scary thing and I think more of that is going to happen if he wins.
HipHopSite: A lot of people feel helpless right now in regards to what the Bush administration is doing. So do you feel that way, like the system will never change, or do you feel like a change can happen?
Paz: The thing with the system is, especially with Kerry, because its not like Kerry is a saint or anything. Because with any Presidential debate you are picking the lesser of two evils. If I had my say I would put Nader in there. I like his policies and I like a lot of his ideas, but the Green Party isn’t established enough. So essentially you are right, I do feel like we are fucked either way. But I donâ€™t want to come off as that much of a pessimist. I would like to think that if we got Kerry in he would at least make the attempt to make some legitimate changes.
HipHopSite: Say they reinstated the draft, would you go or say “Fuck it, I’m going to jail”?
Paz: Fuck that! Fuck that, I’ll go to jail, Canada, Italy, wherever. I have no interest in going to another country and killing other poor people.
HipHopSite: Yeah, definitely. I say we all just go to Canada.
Paz: That’s what I’m talking about dog. I mean you watch “Bowling For Columbine” and you see the way they run their government; they never have beef with no one, they have health care for everyone, etc. People talk about that all the time, about this being the greatest country in the world. But people don’t really understand that there is plenty of other countries with freedom and plenty of other countries that take care of their own, that donâ€™t’ send their children to a fucking war.
HipHopSite: Overall, what do you want to accomplish with the “Legacy Of Blood” album.
Paz: Basically, everything we have done since we have started in the game has been bigger than the last thing. So every time we set out to do a record we want it to be better and sell more and make more people happy than the last time around. So I just want people to appreciate it and understand that we try to uphold the core fundamentals of the original boom bap music. We just want to make boom bap, throwback music. We are going to be on tour and we want everyone to come out and have a good time. But accomplishment wise, I just want the record to do well enough for us to keep making records.
HipHopSite: What else do you have going on in the future that we haven’t already talked about?
Paz: Well, I’m repeating myself, but we are going on tour, then in the new year we are going to Europe to tour for a couple of months. We are already working on the new Outerspace album. I am going to executive produce the King Syze album, that is my right hand man right there. And as I said, we got The Pharaoh’s record and Stoupe’s side project, so we are going to be pretty busy. And we are putting out a full length DVD film, but its not your typical music DVD. It is more of a documentary of the struggles of an independent artist. We are going to try and take that to film festivals and things like that, but its definitely come out on DVD in 2005.
HipHopSite: Any last words?
Paz: Shout out to all my family, check out www.jedi-mind-tricks.com. And shout out to you for giving me the opportunity to speak my mind.
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