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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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Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week End 08.30.13: Amoeba Hollywood Top 5, Hiero Day in the Bay, 33 RPM @ Radio Bar, Stones Throw Soul Tour + more

Posted by Billyjam, August 30, 2013 08:00am | Post a Comment
The big hip-hop event in the Bay Area this weekend is the second annual Hiero Day with a stellar lineup that includes performances from the longtime Oakland hip-hop ensemble The Hieroglyphics themselves along with an impressive array of their friends including Latyrx, Murs & Fashawn, Strong Arm Steady, The Bangerz, Mystic, LuckyIam, Dan The Automator, Erk Tha Jerk, CMG, and Nate The Great to name but some of the scheduled acts (see flyer left for the others). The event, that will include food and drink (lots of beer), takes place on Labor Day, Monday September 2nd from 11am to 6pm but not where it was last year for the premiere event (Oakland's Uptown district near the New Parish). This year it will be held at the (comparatively smaller) space owned by Linden Street Brewery at 95 Linden Street in Oakland - which is within walking distance of both the Jack London Ferry Terminal and the West Oakland BART (good to know since there is no parking on site).  The day is listed as an "all ages, free" event but this week the Hiero Day website has  been listing it as "sold out."  Huh?

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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