Philly busters

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  October 24, 2008

One of Philly hip-hop’s unique flavors is that artists have no choice but at least to know each other, if not to maintain cordial ties with brethren in the same struggle. Vinnie’s cousin Frank, a super-chill tattoo’d dude who looks as if he might front a hardcore band, has North Philly coke rappers Peedie Crack and Gillie da Kid on his speed dial. To outside spectators, these scenes and subgenres are segregated, but hip-hop unifies heads here, and Vinnie has ignored Philly’s stubborn racial boundaries since he went to high school on the ethnically diverse West Side. Most of his close friends from adolescence are black or Latino; as for his Caucasian heads, let’s just say they’re the type of white guys who take blunt rolling seriously. It’s rare for rappers to get props from both backpackers and outlaws, but Vinnie uses his home field to his advantage. With his sixth full-length disc about to drop, he still insists that success would have eluded Jedi Mind if they had deserted these streets.

“I’ve always had the Frank Sinatra philosophy that if you can make it where you come from, you can make it anywhere,” he says. (Hoboken Frank was singing about the Apple, but let it pass.) “Most people here didn’t do that, and I think it’s why we’re so loved here. We never took our operation elsewhere; we stayed in the home of haters and forced them to respect us. While everyone else was moving around and trying other things, we ground it out here, and that’s why now we can sell out 1200-person venues and still have people on the corner. We always repped it to the core that we were Philly dudes, whether it’s the walk, the talk, or the fuckin’ attitude that we’re the most hostile city in America.”

JEDI MIND TRICKS + OUTERSPACE + REEF THE LOST CAUZE + KING MAGNETIC WITH ADLIB | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | October 24 at 9 pm | 18+ | $20 | 617.864.EAST or www.mideastclub.com

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