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Issue 1084

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Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17

Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17
Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17 Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17 Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17 Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17 Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17 Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17 Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17 Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17 Jedi Mind Tricks: Academy Islington, London 11/4/17

It's been a while since Jedi Mind Tricks last appeared on these shores. Hip Hop can be a fickle game, but for years the group has had something of a cult following, and the number of fans wearing JMT hoodies inside the venue was testament to that.

Central to JMT's success over more than 20 years has been rapper Vinnie Paz, who has once of the genre's most recognisable voices.

They've collaborated with acts including GZA, Sean Price, Kool G Rap and RA The Rugged Man over the past two decades, and the packed out venue was a demonstration of their standing.

For this tour, Paz was joined by MC Esoteric and DJ 7L on the decks. The two are a big draw themselves, having worked with Wu Tang's GZA on the superb Czarface albums.

Support came from a brilliant collective of UK hip hop artists, including Genesis Elijah, Phili N Dotz, Da Fly Hooligan, Backyard Bully, Iron Dread and Gee Bag, alongside DJ Snuff.

When Jedi Minds arrived on the stage, it's fair to say the response from the crowd was huge, to the point where bouncers had to lift audience members to safely - Paz gamely urged the audience to give each other space.

Paz and Esoteric are compelling live, as they are on record. Jedi Minds have a huge back catalogue and tore through several of their better-known tracks.

Among these were "Animal Rap" and the brilliant underground hit "Blood In, Blood Out", which the audience chanted back word-for-word.

On JMT records Paz sounds like he's worked himself into a rage before turning on the mic, and the same is true on stage. This is about as far as you can get from a Drake show. Which, given his repeated pledges to deliver "real hip hop", is clearly the point.

A highlight included a version of "Uncommon Valour", deservedly viewed as a classic. It was a collaboration with RA the Rugged Man, and a couple of years ago I was lucky to see RA spit his legendary verse from that track (if you haven't heard it, definitely check it out). It was great to see Paz do his own, often overlooked, verse from that track.

They may not be the best-known collective in mainstream hip hop, but with nine albums under their belt, they're not lacking in material to use live in their shows.

"Blood Runs Cold", "Genghis Khan" and "I Against I" served as a welcome reminder of why their work has been so critically acclaimed. It was a raucous night, and fittingly so - most of the crowd looked utterly drained by the time the stage was vacated.

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PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

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