The Oakland-based Hieroglyphics crew is best known for creating hip-hop that thumps on both seaboards: liberal use of the word "hella" and wicked bass lines captivate Cali heads while complex lyricism appeals to New York rhyme snobs. But just as impressive as the collective's bicoastal appeal is Hiero's ability to rip a stage while remembering their home training.
In a genre where rudeness is de rigueur, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Souls of Mischief, Casual and Pep Love were emissaries of etiquette at the 9:30 club on Tuesday night. Following sets from the Boom Bap Project, O.C. and Non-Phixion, the collective civilly shared the stage for a near-two-hour show.
Souls of Mischief performed classics including "That's When Ya Lost" and "93 'Til Infinity" before Tajai, Phesto, A-Plus and Opio showed off their individual skills. During solo songs, idle members cheered rather than retreat to the sidelines.
Del, the senior member of the clique (and the one who got everyone their major deals in the mid-'90s with help from his cousin Ice Cube), refused to flaunt his power position. He rhymed about personal hygiene on "If You Must" and plugged his new project, Gorillaz, with verses from the ubiquitous "Clint Eastwood," but spent most of his time dancing and watching his gang get down.
The posse cuts, among them "Oakland Blackouts" and "You Never Knew" from 1998's "3rd Eye Vision," provided the biggest opportunity to drop decorum, but everyone managed to mind their manners, and though seven MCs shared just five microphones, nobody made a fuss when it came time to pass the mike.
-- Sarah Godfrey