Over a decade in the rap game, Vinnie Paz has been a pillar of the independent scene as the front man of Jedi Mind Tricks and Army of the Pharaohs, as well as one half of the duo, along with Ill Bill, known as Heavy Metal Kings. God of the Serengeti is his second solo outing and the highly anticipated follow up to his 2010 accolade-earning debut, Season of the Assassin.
Paz enlisted a number of beat-makers for Serengeti—Havoc, DJ Lethal and C-Lance among them. Things get heated early with a DJ Premier-laced banger, “The Oracle.” Preemo’s hard-knocking boom-bap, turntablism, and sample-based hook provide the platform on which Boxcutter Pazzy spits his signature hard-rhymed lyricism: “My hands are made of stone, cut from that Madusa shit/Big gold chains, we was on that dookie shit/Still roll with the kids I stole the Gucci with/I punch you dead in the face, so fuck the music shit.”
Similarly, Marco Polo’s beat for the Blaq Poet feature, “Crime Library” unabashedly annexes the familiarity of the East Coast’s hardcore rap history, with chest-thumping drums, looped eeriness, record scratching, and a hook comprised of the oft-used Onyx “Throw Ya Gunz” sample—“One gun, two gun, three gun, four/Yours, mine, it’s all about crime!”
Heads that are patiently awaiting the arrival of the Liknuts (the Alkaholiks & Beatnuts pairing) will perhaps be appeased a bit by the presence of a Psycho Les-crafted beat on Serengeti’s lead-off single, “Cheesesteaks.” Les places a simple keys loop reminiscent of early DJ Shadow alongside poignant percussion and tactical samples before letting DJ Eclipse cut it up. It’s the perfect East Coast rap backdrop, as the Pazmanian Devil pays tribute to the darker corners of his native Philadelphia: “My little man will blow your face off/I flatten out bodies—I aint talkin’ about a race horse/Murder every rapper, then I break off…Y’all was always pussies, so stay soft/The only time beef is mentioned around me is for steak sauce.”
Paz’s relentlessly brusque rhyme style and rugged gargling-with-bleach delivery would wear on a bit over the course of an entire album (19 songs, including a bonus track) if he didn’t have a throng of guest emcees along with him to break up the monotony—Kool G Rap, Scarface, Mobb Deep, Immortal Technique, Tragedy Khadafi, and fellow boxing fanatic RA the Rugged Man all make appearances. Standouts include the Army of Pharaohs posse cut, “Battle Hymn”, in which Paz invites Apathy, Celph Titled, Esoteric and a handful of others aboard for six plus minutes in the cypher, and “Geometry of Business”, which features his Heavy Metal Kings counterpart Ill Bill and Slaine; both of La Coka Nostra. That latter of which sounds like it could have been picked right off of LCN’s
Save a few brief excursions into the personal (an admission of bipolar disorder and Vicodan use in the aforementioned “Cheesesteaks”) Paz still maintains all the paranoia, conspiracy theories, politics, religion, paranormal, and war references that have been the backbone of his lyrical foundation. Despite a number of guest spots and a variety of producers, this is not the most well-rounded album though. But then again, this is rap music, and oftentimes what matters most is: does it bang or not? The answer is yes, God of the Serengeti definitely bangs. And then some.
7.0 / 10
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