Get some Souls of Mischief hip-hop at the Pour House

CorrespondentJuly 11, 2013 

Souls of Mischief plays the Pour House July 13th.

COURTESY OF SOULS OF MISCHIEF

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    Who: Souls of Mischief, with Tab-One and Halo

    When: 10 p.m. Saturday

    Where: The Pour House Music Hall, 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh

    Cost: $12 ($15 at the door)

    Details: 919-821-1120 or www.thepourhousemusichall.com

All four members of Souls of Mischief – A-Plus, Opio, Phesto and Tajai – are present for this interview. They’re all crammed in a van, driving from city to city for their latest tour, a tour which has them celebrating the 20th anniversary of releasing their debut album, “’93 ’Til Infinity.”

To hardcore hip-hop heads, “’93 ’Til Infinity” is considered not only the Souls’ best album, but the finest album to come out of Hieroglyphics, the Bay Area hip-hop collective that includes Souls, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Casual and Pep Love.

Although these Oakland-bred emcees have been touring together since their debut, did they feel they had to go all out for this tour?

“We didn’t think about it like that,” says A-Plus. “But once we knew that 20 years was coming up, we were like, we’re gonna do it different than normal for our 20-year tour. … We definitely had it in mind – like, maybe, a year and a half prior – to where we were like, yo, 20 years is coming up. We might wanna juice it up a little bit.”

So, does this mean they’ll be performing the album all the way through, in its entirety?

“We’re mostly doing stuff from ‘’93 ’Til,’ says A-Plus. “But the show is centered around the whole album. And what makes it different is, in the past, most of that album, a lot of it, we just have never performed. So people who are used to seeing the Souls, who’ve been traveling on the road since ’93, people who are used to seeing us aren’t used to seeing this format of a show.”

With its boho yet urban mix of jazzy samples and intricate rhymes that still bump to this day, it’s no wonder “’93 ’Til Infinity” is still regarded as a hip-hop classic. Some of today’s younger, on-the-rise rappers have found ways to pay homage to it. Mac Miller has a mixtape with DJ Jazzy Jeff in the works called “92 Til Infinity,” while Joey Bada$$ recently released a single titled “’95 Til Infinity.”

The men of Souls are flattered by the constant hat-tipping from these young cats, whom they also admire for bringing some fresh perspectives to the hip-hop game.

“It’s interesting, especially right now,” says Tajai. “I see, like, a lot of things kind of coming back to the era that we came up in. And I think things are starting to go more towards originality and kind of sticking out from the crowd. … I mean, that’s always gonna be a part of pop music – copying what’s hot or whatever. But there’s a lot of diversity now.”

For example?

“Like, the difference between Kendrick Lamar and Wiz Khalifa are you can tell that they are totally different artists,” he says. “So you see that diversity in hip-hop coming back around like, you know, you had the Fugees and the Wu-Tang Clan or something. … The realness is starting to come back to hip-hop. It’s starting to be kind of, like, more popular to be original.”

The guys are continuing to be as real and original as they have always been, not just on tour but on wax as well. “The Kitchen,” the latest album featuring Souls of Mischief and the entire Hieroglyphics crew, was released this week. They’re also working on another album, along with a book and a documentary, which will both be retrospectives on “’93 ’Til Infinity.”

Considering how most veteran rap groups usually have a shelf life that rarely goes over five years, let alone 20, Souls of Mischief is just grateful that they’re still together, and that they’ve amassed two decades’ worth of music and fans.

“We’re just really happy to be here 20 years later,” says Tajai, “rocking with Hieroglyphics, like nothing happened. It’s love, man!”

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