When I first started this blog, I recall doing a small post on Vinnie Paz' album "Season of the Assassin". My thoughts at the time were that it was a decent album, but I didn't find it all that impressive, and that was mostly because of his voice. I believe it was my second or third time listening to the album at that point. A few weeks ago, I revisited the album again, and although I can't quite put my finger on it, something clicked with me and I found myself liking it more than I did the other times I listened to it, which resulted in me finally adding it to my collection on October 20th. I'll still admit, his voice is not one of the best, but once you get around that, he's very good, especially from a straight up hardcore hip hop perspective, and you get that and more on "Season of the Assassin". It's a 4 star album in my opinion, and two of my favorite songs on the album are "WarMonger" and "Street Wars" (featuring Clipse and Block McCloud).
Before I ordered this on iTunes, I did check it out on Spotify, and needless to say, this is a GREAT album, as Vinnie picks up where he left off, in a way, on "Season of the Assassin". Lyrically he's still about as hardcore as you're going to find these days, and it's almost like a breath of fresh air. Beginning with the production, Vinnie assembled a very respectable list of names, from lesser knowns (Jack of All Trades, MTK, C-Lance, Tony Kenyatta, Mr. Green, JBL the Titan, just to name a few) to more established names like DJ Premier ("The Oracle", which would probably be one of the hardest tracks Premo has produced in a long time, and it also was begging for a Bumpy Knuckles feature, plus it comes with a well timed Biggie sample from Warning), DJ Lethal 0behind (the bangin opener "Shadow of the Guillotine"), underground great Marco Polo on the Blaq Poet assisted "Crime Library", and Mobb Deep's Havoc brings a different but effective sound on the La Coka Nostra featured "Geometry of Business". Psycho Les (of The Beatnuts) delivers a tight beat on "Cheesesteaks", which is somewhat of an ode to Philadelphia, PA.
It doesn't end there, as in addition to the very good names behind the boards, there's also a similar twist with guest appearances. The legendary Scarface shows up on the apply titled "Problem Solver", as Vinnie does more than hold his own with the Southern vet. Mobb Deep, in what had to have been made prior to their "beef", comes sharp on "Duel to the Death" over an Alchemist type track produced by Stu Bangas, Tragedy Khadafi delivers a hard verse on "7 Fires of Prophecy", much like Immortal Technique and Poison Pen come hard on "And Your Blood Will Blot Out the Sun". And of course, the Pharoah Click (comprised of Vinnie Paz, Celph Titled, Apathy, King Syze, Jus Allah, Crypt the Warchild, Esoteric, Blacastan, & Planetary) all come together for the 6:27 cut "Battle Hymn", which is an appropriate title, considering that it seems like they're all competing with each other to see who's the rawest. Although R.A. the Rugged Man appears on the tight "Razor Gloves", his verse doesn't hold a candle to Vinnie's.
With all this praise, is is a flawless album? Not quite. "Cold, Dark, and Empty" (featuring FT & Smoke) isn't bad, and although Vinnie saves it with his verse, FT & Smoke add nothing to the song, plus the beat is one of the worst on the album. "Wolves Amongst The Sheep" could've been better, as Kool G Rap delivers a decent verse but nothing special (further proving that while he'll always be one of hip hop's all time greats, he has not got better with time), plus Block McCloud's hook becomes a little annoying after a while (or maybe it's just me, lol).
Overall, this is an awesome album, literally on par with "Season of the Assassin". This met and exceeded my expectations and I highly recommend it as a purchase.
Rating- 4.5 stars
5 favorite songs would probably go to "Battle Hymn", "Crime Library", "Jake LaMotta", "The Oracle", and "Shadow of the Guillotine"