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Hieroglyphics hit Red Room

Fri., Feb. 3, 2012

Oakland-based rappers set to perform tonight

Considering the last official group effort by Hieroglyphics was released in 2003, the indie-rap pioneers appear to be producing at the pace of “Chinese Democracy.”

But both individually and collectively, the Hiero crew is flooded with material.

Rounding the horn on a West Coast tour that lands tonight in Spokane, Hiero is showcasing a wave of solo albums on the road.

On stage, fans will get a series of mini-sets unfolding with A-Plus performing songs from his latest, “Pepper Spray”; Casual performing songs from his double release, “Hierophant” and “He Think He Rap God”; Opio performing “Vulture’s Wisdom 2”; Pep Love performing “Rigmarole”; Phesto’s debut, “Background Check”; and finally Tajai performing his suspense-thriller concept piece, “Rap Noir.”

Then all six emcees will combine and form a musical Megazord of collaborations and group songs.

So what has Hiero been up to for the last decade?

Well, the Oakland, Calif.-based rap crew collaborated on a visual arts exhibit called “Valley of the Kings” with W.A.I.L. (When Art Imitates Life) in 2010. The project involved the full nine-man crew integrated into an installation of more than 200 portraits.

Concurrent with “Valley of the Kings,” Hieroglyphics released the new track, “Reputation.” On it, lead-off rapper A-Plus addresses the delays with output.

“Sorry that we kept you waiting but it doesn’t hurt our reputation, we was in the basement that’s the explanation … Sort of like a test of patience had to come up with the best arrangement … Caught up in the restoration always end it with an exclamation!”

Hieroglyphics is already breaking stasis in 2012 with ringleader and founder Del the Funky Homosapien releasing a free mixtape, “The West Coast Avengers [D-Funk Limited],” this week on The album is self-produced with all P-Funk samples for ancient-future.

Also on Hiero’s website, Del posted a 15-minute video blog talking about his recently canceled tour after his brother was hit by a car and killed at the end of 2011.

He went on to say his cousin, Ice Cube, attended the funeral and while he was in town the two talked about recording a project together.

Del the Funky Homosapien formed the Hieroglyphics collective – which led to the trailblazing indie-rap label Hieroglyphics Imperium – after he, Souls of Mischief and Casual were all dropped from their major label contracts in 1996.

Both the label – along with the subsequent website – is regarded as a spearhead in the formation of independent rap labels that have since become commonplace, such as Roc-A-Fella and and Tech N9ne’s Strange Music label.

In addition to the Hiero all-stars, Hieroglyphics Imperium is home to a number of groups from the Bay Area and beyond, such the Sleeprockers, a five-man deejay crew from Sacramento who worked with Tajai on his “Machine Language” release as well as A-Plus’ solo, “The Kitchen.”

Also on the blog, Tajai explained the forthcoming albums are finished, but their releases will be strategically staggered, saying, “If we release 10 albums at once, y’all aren’t going to pay $100 all at once.”


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