The Rickety Old Shack

Vinnie Paz — The Pain Collector

album cover

As an ardent fan of Jedi Mind Tricks, ever since I heard their 2001 record Legacy Of Blood, I've also followed the various side-projects and solo efforts of the group's members. Vinnie Paz's fourth solo offering, The Pain Collector, is an album that came and went without my even noticing. I didn't even know about 2016's Cornerstone Of The Corner Store either. I figured this was simply the result of having far too much music to keep up with — it's inevitable that some releases are going to slip through the cracks.

After giving The Pain Collector some thorough listens, however, I'm thinking that a big contributing factor in my obliviousness was the fact there is not a whole lot to get excited about on this record. Right away, after the opening sample of the first track, Vinnie's voice sounds really rough. He's always had a uniquely raspy voice, but the whole album sounds like a bunch of unmastered first takes. Even the guest features have an uncanny valley effect going on with their vocals, Ill Bill especially on "HaShem On A Pentagram." The audio isn't terrible, but with the rest of the issues I have with The Pain Collector, the whole project just feels off.

In some cases, the beats don't feel like they match Vinnie's vocal delivery — which consists of roughly 2 cadences. But even when paired up with a more accommodating instrumental, the lines sound tired, the hooks range from mediocre to uninspired. On "Masked Stickups", the track opens with Vinnie Paz asking if he's got 4 bars or 8, which obviously meant to convey nonchalance but it just highlights how generic the material on the record is. Tracks like "Floating Goat" and "Requiem For Black Benjy..." have really good, eerie, synth-heavy instrumentals that stand head and shoulders above the rest of the album, but are held back by the emcee. I'll given Vinnie some credit for trying to expand his arsenal with some trappy triplicate flow on "Hollow Light Severed Sun," even though it's not much of a banger.

The lyrical themes of Vinnie Paz projects have always been fairly limited — mostly hard-ass boasting about street bonafides, disparate spiritualism and brief moments of introspection and left-wing politics — but the execution and production has always been of sufficient quality to render this moot. The Pain Collector is competent, but even its best tracks are just reminders of older, better work. "God's Shadow," "Cold In Philadelphia," and especially "A Power That Governments Cannot Suppress" try to recapture the deep, historical narrative style of "You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train" from Vinnie's second solo effort God Of The Serengeti. "The Requiem Of Black Benjy In 2 Parts" evokes "God Particle" from Army Of The Pharaohs' fourth album In Death Reborn. They all fall short of their aspirations.

The Pain Collector feels more like a hastily assembled mixtape than a fully conceived record. I wouldn't say the album feels disingenuous, but this is easily the weakest batch of material I've heard from Vinnie Paz. I don't mind that he's a known quantity, that he operates in a fairly limited niche because the finished products have historically been very strong. There's nothing wrong with only having a few tricks — provided you keep doing them well. This record lacks any truly terrible efforts, although the track "Sundae Bloody Sundae" — which uses an ice cream truck bell sample, and is literally about a god damn ice cream truck — exists in a sort of purgatory between cringe and parody, and Vinnie's howled refrains on "Gasmask" sounds like B-reel Sean Paul with laryngitis stuck at the bottom of a well.

The record closes with its best track, "A Power That Governments Cannot Suppress," but ultimately runs too long — at a full 64 minutes — and has way too much chaff and barely any wheat. The vast majority of The Pain Collector sounds like proficient artists just going through the motions. Vinnie Paz has almost 2 decades of material, all of which is much better than this. This record was a bit of a letdown and could have benefit from a couple more guest features and fewer tracks.

Summary

Prolific hardcore rapper Vinnie Paz stumbles a bit, issuing his fourth — and easily weakest — record in The Pain Collector. Sounding slightly worn down, Vinnie drops 19 tracks of familiar but significantly lesser material. If you've followed his career for any length of time, you've heard all of this before and it's been done better. An unfortunate misstep from an otherwise consistently engaging, veteran emcee with a really strong discography. The Pain Collector just feels unneccessary and generic.

Album Information

Release date: September 28, 2018
Record label: Enemy Soil

Vinnie Paz — vocals, production (tracks 4, 17, 18)
Reef The Lost Cause — vocals (track 6)
Crimeapple — vocals (track 12)
Tha God Fahim — vocals (track 12)
Goretex — vocals (track 14)
Ill Bill — vocals (tracl 14)
Stu Bangas — production (tracks 1, 6, 12)
Oh No — production (track 2)
C-Lance — production (tracks 3, 12, 13, 19)
Scott Stalone — production (track 4, 17, 18)
DJ Skizz — production (track 5)
Marco Polo — production (track 5)
Mr. Green — production (track 7)
Giallo Point — production (track 8)
Vic Grimes — production (track 9)
DJ Muggs — production (track 10)
Nick Jackelson — production (track 14)
MenaceTheDJ — production (track 15)
Ish Quintero — production (track 16)

Track Listing

  1. Winter Soldier
  2. Necklace Of Heads
  3. Gasmask
  4. Sundae Bloody Sundae
  5. Jail Cell Recipes
  6. Tongan Death Grip
  7. God's Shadow
  8. DualTow Night Eagle
  9. Blood On My Hands
  10. Floating Goat
  11. Byzantine Jewelry
  12. Requiem For Black Benjy In 2 Parts
  13. Pray For Sleep
  14. HaShem On A Pentagram
  15. Masked Stickups
  16. Hollow Light Severed Sun
  17. Cold In Philadelphia
  18. Gracious
  19. A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

Link: spotify.com

—by Derek

Published: January 23rd, 2019.