Historically, there have been many Hip Hop crews all across the country since the genre’s inception. One of the most renowned and respected ones is the Hieroglyphics crew, out of Oakland, California.
Hieroglyphics is made up of a multitude of stars. Del The Funky Homosapien is the man who created the iconic Hieroglyphics logo and has put forth classic albums like I Wish My Brother George Was Here, No Need For Alarm, Both Sides of the Brain and Eleventh Hour. Many Hip Hop aficionados also remember Del from his work with Dan “The Automator” Nakamura and Kid Koala as part of the group Deltron 3030, Del’s collaborations with the group Gorillaz, and his contributions as a producer to projects put out by his fellow Hiero teammates.
Casual, who was signed to Jive in the early 90s, is one of most versatile emcees of the collective with a unique flow when he recites his verses. Cas — also known as Smash Rockwell — has put out gems like Fear Itself featuring the hit singles “I Didn’t Mean To,” “He Think He Raw,” and his recent collaboration with producer J Rawls entitled “Respect Game Or Expect Flames.”
Souls Of Mischief, whose members are Tajai, A-Plus, Phesto, and Opio, are another key part of the crew. These guys are revered in Hip Hop circles, especially in regards to their classic and debut release 93 ‘Til Infinity for which the group is currently touring in celebration of the album’s 20th anniversary. Each of them has put out solo projects in addition to their group albums, and all produce as well. Their last record, Montezuma’s Revenge, was produced by Prince Paul, producer for De La Soul and DJ for Stetsasonic.
Pep Love is a phenomenal artist who has put forth classic recordings like Ascension, The Foundation and his recently released The Rigmarole. DJ Touré is the man behind the wheels of steel for Hiero when they tour, and he has just put out his debut project Touré’s Theory. Finally, the glue that solidifies Hieroglyphics is Domino. He takes on multiple hats for the team including producer, DJ, manager and marketer of the Hiero brand and its artists.
To release all their master works, Hieroglyphics founded their own label in 1997, Hieroglyphics Imperium, which is now digitally distributed by The Orchard. Hieroglyphics was also one of the first Hip Hop acts to take advantage of the internet in the mid 90s by launching their own website. Hiero is also known for their creative and diverse line of t-shirts, hoodies, jeans, hats, vans, stickers, and other innovative items which you can check out on their site store. As a group, Hieroglyphics have put out two releases before this latest one. In 1998, they dropped 3rd Eye Vision featuring the hits “You Never Know,” “At The Helm” and “After Dark.” In 2003, Hiero returned with Full Circle, which included the joints “Make Your Move” featuring Goapele, “Shift Shape,” “Powers That Me” and “Jingle Jangle.”
Hieroglyphics‘ current release is entitled The Kitchen. Throughout this project, Hiero utilizes the scratching, cutting and mixing expertise of the Sacramento DJ crew known as the Sleeprockers, who provide a cohesive backdrop as one listens to the album. The Sleeprockers’ creativity can be seen on tracks “The Kitchen Intro” and “Indonesia Intro.” The lead single off The Kitchen is called “Gun Fever” and in it, Hieroglyphics add their viewpoint on the gun debate that is sweeping across America. Check out the video for this track on YouTube. The crew go rhyme for rhyme and line for line on the track “Livin’ It Up” backed by a funky beat produced by the Funky Homosapien himself. “Golden,” which Del also produced, provides a dope hook for the crew to rock to. On “All As Above So Below,” Opio, Casual and Pep Love trade bars with Opio providing a fresh beat to complement the MCs’ lyrics. In addition to his microphone techniques, Opio also gets busy behinds the boards on tracks like “Highway Five,” “Nutrition” and “Nano Salt.” And it’s on tracks like “Immortals” and “Passing Fads” — produced by A-Plus and Stephen King respectively — that the collective emphasizes its originality and legendary status which, unlike other acts that are hot for a quick minute and disappear shortly thereafter, can simply not be touched or compromised.
Download The Kitchen on iTunes, Amazon, eMusic and Rhapsody and stream it on Spotify and Rdio. This album is an excellent addition to the Hieroglyphics catalogue and a must-have for any fan of Hiero and Hip Hop as a whole.