Conspiracy theories have been a common theme among hip hop artists and their songs since the days of Melle Mel, but the trend reached its apex during the independent upsurge of 1997. Everyone had an opinion on Area 51, free masons and the CIA. It was overdone at times, but it was better than being flooded with the (fake) thug mentality of today. At the forefront was Jedi Mind Tricks, the Philly-bred crew that was truly on some next shit. JMT’s album, The Psyco-Social …, was filled with Illuminati-dipped battle rhymes that separated the duo from the pack.

Now it’s 2001, and Jedi Mind Tricks offers its second album, Violent By Design, to the masses. Unfortunately, things have changed. The current objective is no longer to break down Behold a Pale Horse-style lyrics. Nope, now it’s more about acting tough and putting a guest emcee on practically every song.

Not that it’s all bad. Stoupe, JMT’s producer, is still making incredible beats and, thankfully, laying off the mic. His talent on the boards makes all the difference on a song like “Genghis Khan,” where JMT emcee Ikon gets a little too excited for his own good. To his credit, Ikon can still spit a nice conspiracy rhyme when he puts his mind to it. It’s just too bad he tends to put his erection to it, because he usually comes off hard.