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Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution

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Album Review

Souls of Mischief's groundbreaking 1993 debut, '93 'Til Infinity, introduced the underground sound of Oakland, a city known more for its deep bass and the funky pimpery of Too Short than for backpacker hip-hop. Precocious and innovative, each member of the crew brought a unique flow and formidable lyrical weaponry to the table. Their follow-up release, No Man's Land in 1995, was a much more dark and brooding work, more scholarly gangster than whimsical. Released in 2000, Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution is a further exploration of their darker side, a murky album of edgy decadence. Gone are the Souls' funky youthful misadventures, replaced now by fully grown sharp attitudes and emotions; however, their focus on bookish word-bending remains the same. The tracks are moody and stripped down to their raw essence, the depth provided purely by the lyrical content, while the droning atonal music almost gets in the way. The album has a twisted visceral feel reflecting the more chaotic mental states of the four restless Souls. In fact, the compressed vibe of Trilogy may isolate all but the Souls' die-hard listeners. While the Souls of old were able to satisfy nouveau hippies and heads alike with their debut, their focus is much more implicit here. Here they enter the mouth of madness, tapping into the primordial rivers of rage and anger. The result is an album of dense, demonic Oaktown funk that defies a true groove but astounds with its rawness and blithe yet still expansive lyrical content. The frenzied and frightful "Interrogation" featuring other Hieroglyphics enlistees Casual and Pep Love is the purest example of their developing sound. The Souls then dig deep into Webster's for astute hardcore tracks like "That Ain't Life," "Acupuncture," and "Enemy Minds." There's more Digital Underground, 2 Pac, and Too Short influences here to go along with the group's characteristic encyclopedic style. An introverted album that reveals more with each subsequent listen, Trilogy, still makes it evident that the inner sanctum of the Souls remains impenetrable. ~ M.F. DiBella, Rovi


Formed: 1991 in Oakland, CA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution, Souls of Mischief
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