Indie hip hop fans, rejoice! Frontman Vinnie Paz and Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind – also known as Jedi Mind Tricks – are back with the Babygrande Records release of Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell. Since coming onto the music scene in 1996, Jedi Mind Tricks has infused their brand of rap with politicized lyrics and eclectic beats. Their latest album does not disappoint. From the opening track, “Intro” to “Black Winter Day,” JMT blends sound effects, sermons, haunting background vocals and unorthodox instruments with thought-provoking – although occasionally depressing – lyrics. The result is a unique and unconventional hip hop record worthy of a mainstream audience.

One of the most noteworthy tracks on the album is “Razorblade Salvation.” It begins with soothing, yet sad guest vocals by Liz Fullerton and Diamond Girl a.k.a. Shara Worden and slowly incorporates penetrating lyrics about despair and suicide. The song is surprisingly moving and deep, but definitely not one to listen to on a gloomy day. A more political track, “Shadow Business” begins with what sounds like an interview about factories, and ultimately deals with the themes of slave labor and discrimination. Paz’s words are accompanied by the evocative voice of Crypt the Warchild; it gives the song an added element that helps make JMT stand out in the crowded hip hop scene.

Although Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell is a powerful and politically charged album, it also incorporates tracks that are slightly less politicized. Songs like “Heavy Metal Kings” featuring Ill Bill and “Gutta Music” featuring Reef The Lost Cauze and Chief Kamachi have great rhythm, synthesized sounds and swear words; they could easily be played at any party or blasted through any car stereo. Most of the album, however, is a bit heavy-handed, politically speaking, so that by the time you’ve gotten to the Bush-bashing track “Outlive the War,” you’ll feel like you have already heard the same sentiments – again and again and again. That being said, it seems JMT is aware of this; the album includes a few brief interlude tracks of mostly instrumentals set to pulsating beats, as if to give listeners’ minds a break.

If you’re not one who closely follows lyrics, Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell is something you could easily listen and groove to, but if you actually pay attention, you may gain something more from it. Jedi Mind Tricks ultimately aims to invade your mind with captivating tempos and forceful, stimulating language. Well, it works for me.