East Oakland's Souls of Mischief are members of the loose underground hip-hop consortium known as Hieroglyphics.
The group consists of four erudite but hardcore MCs -- A-Plus, Phesto, Opio, and Tajai -- whose mindset combines chaos, danger, and the avant-garde, all from an intellectual B-Boy perspective. Their 1993 debut album, 93 'Til Infinity, produced an early-'90s anthem of the same name and spawned a movement toward bohemian yet rugged hip-hop. The crew drew comparisons to De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest for their abstract, whimsical style of storytelling. Two years later, Souls of Mischief shucked off their reputation for their second album, No Man's Land. While the crew lost some fans who were looking for a "'95 Til," they managed to retain a loyal fan base who respected their artistic development. Rather than stick to the formula that made them popular with the college hip-hop set, they shattered their image similar to the way De La Soul had done with their second album, De La Soul Is Dead.
Souls of Mischief subsequently went independent for 1999's Focus, then returned quickly the following year with Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution, another dark, trippy, and brooding exploration. Nine years passed prior to the release of the group's fifth album, Montezuma's Revenge, which boasted a dozen cuts produced by Prince Paul. They connected with multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Adrian Younge to make the conceptual There Is Only Now, released on Younge's Linear Labs label. The album was released in 2014 with Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Busta Rhymes, and Snoop Dogg among the additional support. ~ Michael Di Bella, Rovi