Souls Of Mischief are a four-man group (A-Plus, Opio, Phesto, and Tajai) hailing from Oakland, California. Up until this date, the collective has released five albums, one of them attaining classic status: 93 'Til Infinity.
Souls Of Mischief branched off of the larger hip-hop collective, Hieroglyphics, a group that also includes Del Tha Funky Homosapien. They are very similar to The Pharcyde, and the two sets of rappers actually formed a group called "Almyghty Myghty Pythons," but the latter part of that statement is a story for another day. The point is, if you enjoy The Pharcyde's work, then you will probably be more than happy to indulge in the sounds of Souls Of Mischief.
Anyway, although Souls Of Mischief essentially faded into obscurity after dropping 93 'Til Infinity, they still stamped their name into the annals of hip-hop lore, as the group's debut record is widely considered to be one of the top 100 rap albums ever. Every track on the project is produced by a member of Hieroglyphics, whether it be Souls Of Mischief's own A-Plus or Del Tha Funkee Homosapien (among others).
93 'Til Infinity's vibe parallels that of The Pharcyde's Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde, as its subject matter is generally very light and does not delve into many serious topics. Therefore, it is the production and the bouncy delivery by each member of Souls Of Mischief that makes 93 'Til Infinity the popular album that it is.
1. Let 'Em Know
I love the fact that Souls Of Mischief completely forego an album intro and jump right into the material. The first thing I noticed about this track is that Tajai, who raps second, sounds somewhat similar to my man Keith Murray, and that is a good thing. This song's jazzy, uptempo beat was produced by Hieroglyphics member Domino, and it's pretty solid (it actually sounds like something Eric B. would have produced for Rakim). All four members of Souls Of Mischief lay down some braggadocio raps, something you should get used to.
2. Live and Let Live
Domino is once again on the boards here, and he puts down a very smooth and relaxing piano-driven instrumental for Souls Of Mischief. I particularly like how the beat changes on the hook, as a trumpet enters the fray and, each time the hook leads into the next verse, the piano becomes more blatant. Nice cut.
3. That's When Ya Lost
This time, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien is the man behind the beat, and he laces a banger powered by some knocking drums. I really, really love A-Plus' verse on this, and Opio also impresses. That does not mean I'm dismissing Tajai and Phesto, though, as they both hold their own. Also, Hieroglyphics member Pep Love raps a rather simple hook. "That's When Ya Lost" is one of the best cuts on 93 'Til Infinity. Appropriately, it was the album's second single.
4. A Name I Call Myself
Del gets his second of three production credits on the album, putting down a solid beat for the Souls Of Mischief members who decide to engage in a sleazy sex rap. The instrumental kept me interested, but the raps were just too, um, distasteful, if you would, for me.
For those of you who may have a bit of trouble reading between the lines, the title of this song sounds out as "this is how we do." Anyway, Domino and Jay Biz, also of Hieroglyphics, co-produce this record which ends up sounding solid enough to earn some stripes. As I'm sure you can imagine based on the track's name, Souls Of Mischief come through with some more brags and boasts here. They do it incredibly well, though, so why should I criticize their style?
6. What a Way To Go Out
A-Plus puts down his first of four beats on 93 'Til Infinity on "What a Way To Go Out," and it's also the first of three productions in a row by him. He impresses, too, and I feel like I have to make note of Phesto's verse because of this line: "Pulled my shotty on the hottie and I blasted a bitch, wish I woulda known it was my little sis." Anyway, Opio comes through with a sleazy verse of his own that makes "A Name I Call Myself" look like tea-time.
7. Never No More
This was the album's third single, and it knocks. A-Plus produces a beat with some subtle piano keys backed by some dusty, Da Beatminerz-sounding drums, and being compared to Da Beatminerz is always a compliment.
8. 93 'Til Infinity
The album's title track (and first single) also happens to be its second best song, as A-Plus lays down an incredible instrumental for he and his buddies who just sound great over this. Everything about "93 'Til Infinity" is fantastic, from the beat's variety to the banging drums to each of the four members' verses (and each of them drop three apiece). Great, great record.
Jay Biz produces the beat for this cut, and he does a great job, as "Limitations" sounds fairly unique from everything else on the album. Also, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien does the hook (although there isn't much to it at all) and Casual, another Hieroglyphics member, drops a nice verse. Another good song in an album full of them.
10. Anything Can Happen
A-Plus is back on the boards for "Anything Can Happen," and he creates a decent (and somewhat dark) beat for he and his Souls Of Mischief brethren to rap over. I didn't really remember anything particular about this track (other than Phesto talking about injecting people with HIV needles...), though; it was just alright.
11. Make Your Mind Up
This Del-produced track sounds pretty good, as it seems like he was channeling his inner DJ Premier (doesn't this sound like something that could have been on Jeru The Damaja's The Sun Rises In The East?). Opio sounded especially solid over the instrumental.
12. Batting Practice
Casual laces a banger here. This just sounds fantastic, and Souls Of Mischief match the aggressiveness of the beat by coming pretty correct themselves. This is, easily, one of the best songs on the album.
13. Tell Me Who Profits
This is the best song on 93 'Til Infinity; even better than the popular title track. Domino's drums knock, and the single, dull piano hit that surfaces throughout adds a very nice touch. I don't have anything else to say other than the fact that I love this cut.
93 'Til Infinity contains that classic sound that we have come to expect from early-to-mid 90s hip-hop albums. The drums on this record mostly bang, and while there are other instruments that accompany them on each of the tracks, it is the drums that make each beat go.
What I really like about Souls Of Mischief is the balance of the group, as each of the four members are on equal footing; no one individual seems superior to the rest. Also, the fact that the group is able to bring in numerous producers and have them all adhere to the same formula is very important, as it makes 93 'Til Infinity sound like an extremely cohesive project.
While many of the cuts on this album may be deemed "boring" in today's club banger-dominated industry, they still sound great to the ears of any true rap fan, as the beats and rhymes encompass what hip-hop was all about nearly two decades ago, and that is always a good thing. Do some of the tracks sound very similar to one another? Yes, but that is generally how it was back then, and it made albums sound like they had a theme as opposed to many projects today that are, by and large, all over the place.
Finally, I think what really separates 93 'Til Infinity from the pack and makes it such a classic record is the fact that it didn't sound anything like everything else that was coming out of the west at that point (other than The Pharcyde, of course). During a time when g-funk was ruling California (and hip-hop altogether), Souls Of Mischief put out a drum-heavy album that went against the west coast grain, actually sounding more like a New York record.
TOP FIVE TRACKS
1. Tell Me Who Profits
2. 93 'Til Infinity
3. Batting Practice
4. That's When Ya Lost
5. Never No More