Violent by Design (Superegular Recordings/Landspeed)

Reviewed by Jason Thornberry

I was enjoying this, the second album by Jedi Mind Tricks, until I reached "The Deer Hunter" and heard yet more of the tedious homophobia that is still, sadly, floating in the waters of B-Boy culture. Like an uncle who uses the 'N word' in late-night family deliberations, and cups his hand over his mouth, as though he's passing along some legless secret, an intense (suspicious at times) apprehension towards homosexuals still exists in hip-hop, and I'm frankly sick of it. It's totally irrelevant as to whether I'm gay or straight. As a human-being I'm mortified every time I hear some stupid shit, like "That's unnatural, like love between faggots." (That's a line from a rap song who's name eludes me presently.) What decade is this? Apparently bigotry is okay. When it isn't practiced on you.

Having said that, in all other respects, Violent by Design is a very rewarding listening experience. From the sample of some silly wrestler prophesying that "the next sacrificial lamb will be lead to slaughter" to Gene Hackman thanking the band for their hard work and belief in themselves as true combatants of the M-I- C, Violent by Design does what commercial rappers are too busy making themselves palatable to the masses of asses to do: makes sounds like these. There they all are, hard at work making their (c)rap songs into dance moves that'll get their pathetic butts on Beach-House MTV, so they can have Carson Daley tell them how great they are (like they really care what he thinks). Commercial hip-hop is like any style of music that gets diluted for larger appeal. The lyrics suddenly become butter soft, and free from any messages, other than for you to "get jiggy with it". If the emcee isn't camera-friendly, like LL or Will Smith (formerly the Fresh Prince, even though he was wack back then too), you at least need an interesting angle that can get worked into oblivion (see Eminem. Even though the notion of a white guy on the microphone is elderly now). Canibus griped that LL Fool J showed off his body because he didn't have any skills. I have no clue as to what Icon, Jus Allah, or Stoupe look like, but they rock the spot harder than Will or LL ever did. I remember hearing LL Cool J rhyme about shooting someone in their "muthafuckin' face" on Bigger and Deffer, back in 1988, and I thought that was ahead of its time. Little did I realize that Straight Outta Compton was hot on the heels of B.A.D. LL brought out Walking With a Panther in '90', but, unfortunately, the brute spared his life.

This CD is the successor to the Psycho-Social, Chemical, Biological, and Electro-Magnetic Manipulation of Human Consciousness debut, and rhymes like "I spit the acetate to make your lips evaporate" or "Be the next member in the cast of my snuff flick" will make everyone who initially thought the Jedi's rocked the mic like Steve Urkle pause and take notice. These guys are arguably Illadelphia's finest. They just need to give homosexuals a break. Unless by rapping about how awful "fags" are takes peoples' thoughts away from the possibilities of the lyricists being gay...


© 2002 - Jason Thornberry