And today’s post completes the trilogy of September 28th 1993 releases.
When Del The Funky Homosapien came on the scene in ’91 with his debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here (read my thoughts on that album here) he definitely introduced the world to a different perspective than it was used to hearing from a west coast emcee. Even though he was from Oakland, he didn’t present a pimp or gangster persona (despite the fact that his cousin was Ice-Cube), but instead he represented the common man that did and talked about everyday Joe kind of things. And after Del established his footing in the game, he would introduce the world to his Hieroglyphics crew, who shared a like mindset. The first installment of his Hiero crew that he would introduce to the world, would be Souls of Mischief.
Like Del, Souls of Mischief (which consists of A-Plus, Opio, Phesto and Tajai) were also born and raised in Oakland. The four met in junior high and high school, where they formed the group, and soon would sign a deal with Jive, and release their debut album 93 ‘Til Infinity. Even though it didn’t move a ton of units, 93 ‘Til Infinity was a critical darling, and The Source (when the magazine still had street cred) named it one of The 100 Best Rap Albums of all time.
Through the years, some of the members have recorded solo albums, but they have all stayed faithful to the foundation, and have recorded 6 albums, with the latest being released in 2014. So far they’ve stayed true to their debut album’s title.
Let ‘Em Know – 93 ‘Til Infinity opens with mid-tempo drums, a thumpin’ bass line and a sick trumpet loop, that has all four members of Souls Of Mischief dropping the most articulate battle rhymes that I’ve ever heard. Seriously, these dudes sound like nerd emcees, but don’t get it twisted, these dudes can spit.
Let ‘And Let Live – Opio, Tajai and A-Plus each give their dissertation about gun violence in America’s inner cities, and Phesto’s left with hook duties. Domino hooks up a mid-tempo jazzy backdrop, and Bill Ortiz adds some live trumpet chords. All these piece come together to form a masterpiece of a song.
That’s When Ya Lost – Most probably forgot about this song, because of the massive hit that the second single became, but this was actually the first single released from 93 ‘Til Infinity. Del gets his first production credit of the evening, and he cooks up a dope instrumental for the Souls to spit all over. It’s awesome to hear four emcees with four distinctively different voices, that are all equally skilled. This one still sounds sick.
A Name I Call Myself – Hey, even nerd emcees like sex. Del continues his streak of dope instrumentals, and constructs this smooth backdrop for the foursome to wax poetic about smashing PYT’s. Side note: Phesto sounds like the early years version of Phife-Dawg on this one (rip).
Disseshowedo – If I could leave one song off the album this would probably be the one.
What A Way To Go Out – On this one each member of Souls plays the role of a dude living life in the fast lane, until the consequences of their actions come back to bite them square in the ass. If kids actually learned from other’s experiences instead of having to experience things for themselves, this would be a great warning record to play for pre-teens and above. By the way, Domino’s backdrop is super low-key , but still pretty dope.
Never No More – This is tied for my favorite song on 93 ‘Til Infinity. Usually, I’m not a fan of battle rhymes being spewed over quiet storm instrumentals, but this is an exception. A-Plus’ soothing instrumental would be the perfect soundtrack for a massage, and the Souls’ rhymes work over it because of their articulation and instrument like vocal tones. I don’t care how many times I listen to this song, I never get tired of it.
93 ‘Til Infinity – This was the second single, and may be the greatest hip-hop album title track of all time. A-Plus’ instrumental is both intense and melodic, and the way A-Plus, Tajai, Opio and Phesto tag team the mic, they sound like an updated west coast version of the Cold Crush Brothers. This is a flawless classic.
Limitations – Casual drops in to contribute a verse, and Del handles the hook (and parting words), while the Souls continue to boast of their greatness and discredit all other emcees, over a Jay Biz produced instrumental. This was solid.
Anything Can Happen – Tajai sets up the scene with his verse, as he watches his childhood friend get murdered by gun shots, and his mom also gets hit when the shots are fired. Instead of calling 911, Tajai finds the nearest payphone (some of ya’ll may need to Google “payphone” to find out what that is) and calls Opio, and the rest of the Souls crew get involved seeking revenge for Tajai’s injured mom and deceased buddy. Yes, I know this is hard to believe coming from these guys, but at least they do a great job of sticking to the storyline, and the instrumental is solid. Plus, murder has never sounded so elegant.
Make Your Mind Up – And this is the other song tied for my favorite on 93 ‘Til Infinity. Del gets his final production credit of the evening, and he definitely saves his best for last, as he flips the shit out of a Ramsey Lewis loop and turns it into beautiful perfection (I absolutely love the way the bass line gyrates up and down the track). Phesto sits this one out, and lets A Plus, Opio and Tajai talk their shit over Del’s masterpiece, and they compliment his canvas, wonderfully.
Batting Practice – Remember what I said about “Disseshowedo”? This one runs neck to neck with it for weakest song on the album.
Tell Me Who Profits – SOM uses the last real song of the evening to get slightly conscious, as they address/question the drug epidemic in America’s urban cities, amongst other things. You may recognize one of the loop’s Casual uses for the instrumental from Jay-Z’s “Coming Of Age”. Not my favorite song on 93 ‘Til Infinity, but it’s solid.
Outro – Over a simple Domino produced instrumental, SOM give their shoutouts, which coincidentally includes a shoutout to their same day debut release buddy, YZ.
On 93 ‘Til Infinity, Souls of Mischief sound like a hybrid of hip-hop and Shakespeare, kind of like when Mekhi Phifer played Othello in the movie “O”, only 93 ‘Til Infinity is actually worth the cost of admission. Over the course of thirteen songs, SOM construct meticulously articulate rhymes over hard-hitting drums and jazz vibes, that would lead one to believe these dudes were from the east coast, as they sound nothing like the west coast g-funk sound that dominated the left coast in the mid nineties. 93 ‘Til Infinity is not without flaws, but it’s a strong statement from SOM that holds up well, all these years later.