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Hip-Hop That's Nice

Souls of Mischief - The El Rey - August 16, 2013

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Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 3:30 AM
click to enlarge Souls of Mischief - MAX BELL
  • Max Bell
  • Souls of Mischief

Souls of Mischief

The El Rey

8/16/2013

This year marks hip-hop's 40th anniversary. It also marks the 20th anniversary of one of hip-hop's greatest albums, Souls of Mischief's 93 'til Infinity. The title track has been rapped over by everyone from Kanye West to Freddie Gibbs. And though they aren't often mentioned in the 'greatest hip-hop group ever' conversation, their influence, along with that of their Hieroglyphics crew, is undeniable.

Friday night at the ever-regal El Rey -- wall-to-wall burgundy carpet and countless chandeliers -- we went to see if the album still makes heads nod in 2013. We also wanted to know if each member of the Oakland-bred quartet (A-Plus, Opio, Phesto, and Tajai), all of whom were in their late teens when the work came out on Jive in 1993, was still able to bring it live now that they're nearing 40 themselves.

See also: our gallery of the show.

click to enlarge The Black Opera - MAX BELL
  • Max Bell
  • The Black Opera

Openers The Black Opera kicked things off. The duo came out with a ton of energy and some of the strangest masks we've ever seen. They were circular and white with a white maze-like pattern -- their logo. They later switched to black Phantom of the Opera masks. Then they put on dashikis and African medallions. There were more costume changes, but at a certain point we couldn't keep track.

While The Black Opera were competent MCs with a well-rehearsed show, we have to say that the constant costume changes in front of the audience interrupted the flow of the set. We get that the words "opera" and drama go hand in hand, but the guys could benefit from less of the latter. And changing in front of the audience is a lot like a magician showing you how he pulled the rabbit out of the hat, no?

After their set the four Souls of Mischief MCs took the stage and launched into "Let 'Em Know," the first track from 93 'til Infinity.

click to enlarge Souls of Mischief - MAX BELL
  • Max Bell
  • Souls of Mischief

The youthful exuberance that courses through 93 'til Infinity was evident from jump. The group's energy only seemed to ramp up with every track, and by the end of the night there wasn't one member without a drenched t-shirt. Each syllable was electric.

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