The Bay Area's Souls of Mischief have contributed one album to the hiphop canon (the group's debut '93 'Til Infinity), and one single to that canon ("'93 'Til Infinity"). You know nothing about hiphop if you know nothing about this album (which established the Bay Area's rich and still thriving underground scene) and its lead track (which was the anthem for the post-modern period of hiphop that began in 1993 and ended in 1997--the modern period began in 1987 and was defined by Public Enemy, BDP, Eric B. and Rakim, De La Soul). And you can consider yourself well above competent if you are aware of the fact that Souls of Mischief are responsible for some of the most beautifully assembled tracks in all of hiphop.
East Oakland is where the group's four members (A-plus, Opio, Phesto, and Tajai) are from, and Hieroglyphics is the collective that connects the quartet with Pep Love, Casual, and Del Tha Funky Homosapien. I have yet to hear a bad song by the Souls of Mischief; everything they have thus far released, even RJD2's 2003 remix of "Spark," is intricately made, with surfaces that warmly glow like well-worn objects (furniture, appliances, photographs) in a room whose single window frames the remains of a winter day.
To enter "Unseen Hand," or "Shooting Star," or "Never No More," or "Sound Science," is to enter a miniature world from which everything that is ugly, that doesn't intensify the experience of pleasure, has been banished. And it's not a simple beauty, one that immediately opens up and reveals all of its delights. I've regularly listened to "'93 'Til Infinity" for over a decade and have yet to determine the means--is it the horn that surges and fades? The sorrow that flows just beneath the rippling electric keyboards? The beat that bumps like a productive factory machine?--by which it enchants me so completely. Indeed, '93 until infinity.