With very few exceptions, Hip Hop anthems have their popularity, and perhaps resurgence among a new generation of fans – then they go on to the next anthem. Not so for Souls of Mischief’s seminal classic ’93 ’til Infinity, which has remained popular for a 20-year run and counting. 50-somethings all the way down to tweens know every word to the song, which was born when A-Plus bought a dollar record by Billy Cobham (Heather) and began to sample it, adding his now-signature rhythms, drum patterns, and more.
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Souls of Mischief began to come together when the members were just children in elementary school. Oakland native Tajai began rhyming with future band mate A-Plus at age 8, while both were in elementary school. “My dream and goal since I was 8, was to come out with a dope hip hop album and be in the same peer group as all of the rappers I looked up to at the time. To be a part of that exclusive club of hip hop artists recognized and respected for their work,” A-Plus reminisces.
Tajai and Phesto met later in junior high school, A-Plus introduced Tajai to Opio (who met him from Hiero member Casual) and the group informally formed in high school before making their major-label debut on Jive Records with their well-received album 93 ‘til Infinity, in 1993.While most recording artists are still honing their craft in high school, Souls of Mischief were ready to realize their dreams. Phesto Dee explains it best “My dream was to be a famous, dope ass multi-talented rapper and producer and garner respect from my peers and colleagues. We have been fortunate enough to attain longevity which was something I thought about, but never imagined would come true. 20 years is a blip in time really but that is considered a long career in this industry. So to still be living my dream twenty years later is incredible.”
93 ’til Infinity is the group’s highest charting album to date (#17 Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums; #85 Billboard 200), and in January, 1998, was named one of the Top 100 Rap albums by The Source magazine. The group stayed with Jive for one more album, 1995’s No Man’s Land, before being released from the label during that same year. In 1995, following the release of the group from its major-label contract with Jive the group officially formed the hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics (Del the Funkee Homosapien, A-Plus, Tajai, Opio, Phesto Dee, Domino, Casual, Pep Love and DJ Toure). Souls of Mischief participated as full members in Hieroglyphics’ studio albums: “3rd Eye Vision”, “Full Circle” and “The Kitchen”.
Popular artists from Kanye West to Just Blaze to Vampire Weekend to John Mayer and so many more have given props and kudos to Souls of Mischief in person and in public for being a huge influence musically, style-wise, lyrically, and for the impact of their produced music. Kanye West was impressed by the group’s fashion sense and style as well. “They was like the first fresh to death group, they had the rugby’s it wasn’t about being a backpacker…they was like…the ’93 me!” From J-Cole to Big K.R.I.T. and from Vampire Weekend to P-Diddy, other producers and artists have also paid their homage by sampling the group’s music or interpolating it into their own sound.
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