Boxcutter Pazzy

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I did an cover story interview with Jedi Mind Tricks and Army of the Pharoahs frontman Vinnie Paz for the latest issue of JUMP magazine.

He is one-third of Jedi Mind Tricks, one-fraction of Army of the Pharaohs, one-half of Heavy Metal Kings, one-fifth of vodka into the studio session, and one focused and funny yet tortured and conflicted man.

Many details about Vincenzo Luvineri — aka Vinnie Paz — are well known, well documented and can be found with a simple Google search.

Paz was well known for the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude long before there was a texting shorthand for the phrase. Not that he doesn’t give a fuck about his music, the topics he raps about or his fans. He just never cared about the industry part of the game, and if staying true meant staying in the margins, it was a space he was only too comfortable to occupy.

Known for a voice that sounds as if a bulldog is dragging you across a gravel pit by the scruff of your neck, Paz’s sometimes controversial, sometimes contradictory, but always unapologetic lyrics have resonated with legions of fans, sometimes, at the price of putting himself in the media spotlight.

That transparency and opening up doesn’t mean he has been completely forthcoming about everything in his life.

Read the rest of the story about Vinnie Paz: The Ultimate Fighter.

 

Back in October I spent a memorable night in the studio with Paz. I told the photographer I wanted to get in and out, hour tops. I ended up there for something like 9 hours.

I had never met Vinnie before, but walking in, he immediately tried to make us welcome in his world. I started by telling him that one of the livest, wildest shows I had ever been to was a JMT show in West Philly, nearly 15 years ago. He remembered it in details. I don’t want to make this sound like some gloating, ego-based, name dropping post, but being there that night, it was crazy to see a side that many don’t see, because he hadn’t until recently put very private things out there in the public. Specifically, his 15 year battle with depersonalization disorder.

At that time, he had just wrapped filming for “Is Happiness Only A Word,” and his most recent solo album was about to drop. What transpired during the interview was peeking inside the mind and life of an incredibly intelligent and conflicted human, not just artist. When I do interviews I stay away from, “Who is on your album?” type questions because they bore me to tears and can be read on countless blogs. So here was this sensitive topic that he was only recently starting to reveal and I wanted to navigate it delicately but honestly. Both during the interview and how I handled it in the story. (Even though this story hadn’t occurred yet, please refer to the Dr. V debacle.) Paz and his manager both gave me the green-light that everything (minus one thing) was on the record and fair game. I am also aware that while that may be verbalized at the time, people sometimes have second thoughts. Or, that they way it is written or portrayed may not be how everyone remembers or intends it.

On top of all that, I would be covering the Vinnie Paz/ AOTP show, one of the few shows he has done in Philly in a long time, a couple weeks after the issue dropped.

After the show I hit his manager who had this to say:

Thought you did a great job capturing a snapshot of a night in Vinnie’s life and some of the contradictions that he embodies.  He’s a complicated person and that hasn’t always been captured as accurately as you did in your piece.  I think it was honest and fresh while still respecting some of the off-the-record moments that you’ll inevitably witness when you’re welcomed into his sanctuary (the studio.)

And Paz on Twitter said this:

 

 

 

The point here is not that an artist or manager liked what I wrote, but that I was able to do the subjects (Paz and his struggles with his depersonalization disorder) justice, be honest and accurate, without being insensitive. Based on their response and of feedback from others who have read it, I am pretty happy with the result.

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