Amoeblog

Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: 20 Year Anniversary of Souls' 93 Til Infinity Celebrated With New Documentary By Shomari Smith

Posted by Billyjam, September 10, 2013 01:48pm | Post a Comment
       

Fittingly on the eve of the recent Hiero Day and in Oakland, the premiere preview screening of Til Infinity took place at the New Parkway Theater. Capturing a significant moment midway in hip-hop's history and a critical time in the early life of Hiero collective quartet the Souls Of Mischief the Shomari Smith directed documentary 'Til Infinity takes an in-depth look back to twenty years ago to when the Souls Of Mischief  (Tajai, Phesto D, A-Plus, Opio) released their acclaimed debut album, the 1993 hip-hop classic 93 ‘Til infinity.  Oakland born and raised filmmaker Smith, who grew up with the Hieros, presents an inside intimate look at his subject that another documentary maker may not have been privy to. From childhood stories by the many members of the Hieroglyphics collective to track by track detail of every song on the 93 'Til album, plus insights and input from a wide variety of hip-hop artists and industry folk Smith's film is both a history of the Hieros and a play by play of every detail of a hip-hop classic album that bookmarked the end of hip-hop's so-called golden era and the beginning of a new (non mob/street/player/gangsta) era in Bay Area hip-hop. Many of Smith's interviews were conducted while traveling across the country on tour with the group and the artists they met along the way such as Redman, Phife Dawg, Rakaa Iriscience, Talib Kweli, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), and Snoop (Lion) Dogg.

As one of the many industry folk interviewed in the documentary I was among the lucky ones to get invited to last weekend's premiere screening. (I had produced a SoulBeat TV show dedicated to the Hieros back in September of 1993 upon the Souls' 93 release - portions of which are interspersed throughout the new doc). After the midday screening finished at New Parkway  on 24th Street attendees moved over to the Rock Steady on San Pablo at 18th for the after party / photo exhibit (Phesto and Shomari Smith's Souls tour photos). It was outside that venue, a part of the New Parish, that I conducted the above video interview with Shomari Smith. At the recently relocated New Parkway (which looks great by the way) Shomari addressed the audience that, along with all of the Souls and most of the Hieros, included such film interveiwees as Lyrics Born, Equipto, and Dante Ross.  "It's been an amazing journey," stressed Smith of the film that took two years to make. Like most good pieces of art the film took on its own direction and vibe based on the material Smith culled in the seemingly endless hours of interviews he conducted. The documentary clocked in at two hours he but before the screening Smith promised that the time would "go by quickly" (it did) adding how what the audience was about to view was "the directors cut" since due to licensing and other factors the film will have to go through another round of editing down and a series of alterations. 

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Oakland Filmmaker Shomari Smith Making Documentary About Souls Of Mischief's "93 'Til Infinity"

Posted by Billyjam, October 22, 2012 01:40pm | Post a Comment

Teaser for the in-production documentary on Souls Of Mischief's
93 'Til Infinity

The above trailer/teaser for the ongoing production of the documentary about the Souls of Mischief's album 93 'Til Infinity offers a nice taste of what's to come with the 2013 release of this in-depth documentary on the famed Hieroglyphics crew's landmark 1993 debut album. "I've conducted over 50 interviews with notable emcees, producers and DJs for this project," said Oakland filmmaker/lifelong Souls fan Shomari Smith who is still busily working on this film which will be a must-see for Hiero fans. For the documentary, in addition to interviewing the entire Hiero Crew, Smith has also interviewed such folks as A Tribe Called Quest's Phife Dawg (fellow Jive Records label-mate back at that time in the early 90's), Dante Ross (the highly respected A&R rep who signed Del and was involved with the Hieros development in their early years), and former KMEL DJ Sway (among the local Bay Area radio DJs to promote the Souls early on in their career). 

"The film is scheduled for release in September of 2013, exactly 20 years from the original release date for the album," director Shomari Smith told me last week noting that, "This documentary will show the Souls as you have never seen them before. They are discussing their early creative process while making the legendary demo. They share personal stories about each album track. They discuss the single “93 'Til infinity” and it’s longevity, and they talk about going independent and moving forward into the future." Indeed the Souls and the other Hieros (Del, Casual, Extra Prolific, etc.), who all got dropped by their respective labels all before they had an opportunity to fully shine, were among the early wave of hip-hop online pioneers in the mid nineties to adapt to the Internet as a means of distribution of their music.

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DJ Woody's Excellent New Video Mix Shows His Love of '90's Hip-Hop & Pop Culture

Posted by Billyjam, September 4, 2012 10:03am | Post a Comment
          

           Big Phat 90's Mixtape from DJ Woody on Vimeo.

DJ Woody  is an amazingly gifted DJ who works in both audio and  video formats - and expertly in each. The UK DJ, who came to fame as an accomplished battle DJ (ITF, DMC, Vestax), not only impressively utilizes the the video scratch/mix format in the hip-hop DJ turntable tradition but this this gifted guy manages to take it  to a whole other next level. This skill he instantly demonstrates in his latest mind-blowing audio/video production above, Big Phat 90's Mixtape which is a pleasing flashback to the highlights (hip-hop and pop culture) of that bygone decade's years with many featured tracks from the first part of the decade - aka the latter half of hip-hop's much heralded Golden Era.

The instantly engaging, brand new, intricately assembled 45-minute, audio visual production is made in "video mixtape" format and, as such, is equally enjoyable to just listen to or watch and listen. Big Phat 90's Mixtape is also the 35 year DJ's salute to his favorite decade: the 1990's - hip-hop and beyond.  Fresh back in the UK from some doing some gigs in Russia over the weekend I caught up with the British talent born Lee Woodbine to ask him a few questions on hip-hop in the 90's,  and also what went into making this impressive video music mix.

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Hiero Day Shows Love For Oakland By Keeping It In "The Town"

Posted by Billyjam, September 1, 2012 07:48am | Post a Comment
It is only fitting that the setting for this Monday's (Labor Day) Hiero Day 2012 will be Oakland, CA. After all "The Town" (Oakland) is where the members of the globally respected, two-decade strong, hip-hop collective The Hieroglyphics came up in and, more importantly, stayed in. "We are lovers and supporters of our hometown. We have never left it, and have built a business empire that has hired many over the years. It is only right that we celebrate the positive in our own community as a form of tribute and to give back to a place that has nurtured and supported us," event organizer Tajai Massey of Clear Label Media Group Hieroglyphics Enterprises told the Amoeblog.

Massey is perhaps better known to most hip-hop fans simply as Tajai of the mighty Souls of Mischief crew who over the years, along with such fellow Hiero members as Casual, Del The Funky Homosapien, Pep Love,  Domino, Extra Prolific, and DJ Toure,  helped build the Hieroglyphics into an internationally recognizable and respected contemporary cultural entity. Indeed travel to any corner of the globe and odds are folks will instantly identify the Hiero's famous logo that was designed over 20 years ago by Del The Funky Homosapien.

Unfortunately due to his ongoing Deltron 3030 tour date commitments it seems like Del may not be able to make it on Monday for Hiero Day but (fingers crossed) reportedly there is a slim chance he may be able to make it. Regardless all of his other Hiero brethren will be there Labor Day in Downtown Oakland for Hiero Day which goes from 11am to 6pm and happens on San Pablo Ave. between 17th + 18th Streets (near the New Parish). "Members of Hieroglyphics performing Monday will include Opio, DJ Toure, A-Plus, Tajai, Pep Love, Casual, and Souls of Mischief," said  Walasia Al-Noor Shabazz - the General Manager at the Hieros' Clear Label Media company. And in addition to the Hieroglyphics first family of hip-hop there will be some of the very best of the Bay Area on stage too including Blackalicious, Planet Asia (technically from Fresno), Equipto, Moe Green, and Z-Man (who is still an honorary member of the Hiero camp since he put out a release via the Hieros a few years ago). Also performing will be the Kev Choice Ensemble and Honor Roll, plus DJ D Sharp.

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Hiero Imperium Summer Tour Announced

Posted by Billyjam, June 20, 2012 06:52pm | Post a Comment
           

Add to your list of must-attend summer concerts the just-announced Hiero Imperium Summer Tour 2012, featuring performances by Souls of Mischief, Pep Love, Casual, plus special guests along the way. The four-week Western US tour, that kicks off July 19th in San Diego at the House Of Blues, will take them from Cali to Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and Nevada, winding up on August 18th at the Country Saloon in Las Vegas.  What makes this sixteen date tour worth attending is the fact that it is most prolific year yet from the two-decade old collective. Recently five of the Hieros have released solo albums - and they're real good too - including Casual (He Still Think He Raw), Pep Love (Rigmarole), Phesto Dee (Background Check), Opio (Vulture's Wisdom Vol. 2), and Tajai (Machine Language).

In addition to these new solo projects, they also have, as a crew, a grip of new songs to perform on this tour. "I'm looking forward to doing the new material the most, with the new albums from Pep, Casual, Opio, Phesto, and me," the Souls' Tajai said adding that of all the dates on the tour that their hometown show (the non nightclub stop on the tour and the only Bay Area show) on August 4th is one he is really looking forward to. "I'm excited to rock the hometown Art And Soul Festival. Oakland, USA!" For disappointed fans of Del The Funky Homosapien, whose name is noticeably absent from this Hiero tour line up, note that you can catch the most famous HIero in concert in the East Bay this weekend at the High Times 2012 Medical Cannabis Cup at the Craneway Pavilion at 1414 Harbour Way South. The event runs both weekend days but Del performs at the Saturday night party along with Smoke Dza, and others. For more info on the Cannabis Cup. And for more info on the Hiero Imperium Summer Tour 2012. 

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