Jedi Mind Tricks and supergroup Army of the Pharoahs aside, Vinnie Paz has always been one not to pass judgment on. Lyrically sound, equally forceful, but full of hilarious head-nodding punchlines, once put to soundscapes be they Stoupe, or any other beatmaker, he has always been able to distinguish himself amongst many other emcees. So we are now at the dawn of his debut record, Season of the Assassin, which if anything, serves as a historically significant debut that lets you know his significance during his hip-hop years, all 17 of them. And while it’s not a bad debut by any means, there are occasions that do require a scratch of the head.
You can see it in the guest list; pretty much some of underground’s finest and mainstream’s scorned have made their way on here. That means you get a lineup featuring Freeway, Clipse, Beanie Sigel, Sick Jacken of The Psycho Realm, Ill Bill of Non-Phixion in the booth while you also have producers who run the same gamut: Madlib, DJ Muggs, MoSS, Shucko, ManyBeats, Stu Bangas, MTK, and many others. They have all come to bless Vinnie with a ton of material, and a great deal of itl succeeds in great record making material. You could hear it in the stark and eerie keys on “End of Days”, the rockin’ drums on “Bad Day” provided by Da Beatminerz, and the soulful and dark soundscape provided on “Aristotle’s Dilemma”. They all do the job to complement Vinnie’s gruff and autobiographical delivery. Then you even have the hilariously crazy-sounding “WarMonger” with an epic horn backing provided by Fizzy Womack AKA Lil Fame of M.O.P. And you’d swear that “No Spiritual Surrender”, with Sick Jacken, could have fit somewhere within The Mask & The Assassin as a decent B-side, whereas the melodic harpsichord in “Washed In The Blood of the Lamb” helps Vinnie fit his religious preaching (Islamic for those who don’t know) with his tried-and-true tough guy delivery.
But in the end, you’re dealing with about 21 cuts, which at 76 minutes is quite a daunting task on a record. And to pull it off fluidly is a lot to ask. For the most part, it could have been cut down to a lean 12- to 14-cut record that would have helped it become a concise listen and better introduce a new listener to Vinnie for those who aren’t familiar with his discography. Aside from that one gripe, Season of the Assassin does a fine job of being, for the most part, a solid listen from a solid emcee. And the highlight of this record is easily “Same Story (My Dedication)”, which is a proper dedication to his friend Rock. It’s filled with melodic pianos and guitars courtesy of Scott Stallone, and helps Vinnie just kind of let loose, which in turn gives the listener a little peer into the thoughts of Vinnie. The beginning of the record states “He’s a fighter…Vinnie’s a born fighter.” So fight on, Vinnie. Fight on.