On 93 ’til Infinity, Souls of Mischief championed eccentricity with syllables and style

93 'till Infinity album cover via Last.fm

Dylan Masvidal | Contributing Writer

To say standing out as an MC during the 90s was a daunting task would be a massive understatement. 

Being smack-dab in the middle of hip-hop’s renaissance period was to be caught battling what can only be described as a horde of pen-wielding Bo Jacksons. All vying for the same badge of honor: Rap supremacy. 

Now stack that conundrum on top of attempting to sound original amidst a sea of gangsta rap juggernauts over on the West Coast and you have yourself quite a stinky sandwich on your hands. Bon appétit? 

Pressure makes diamonds nonetheless, this time a precious gem handled by Tajai, Phesto, Opio, and A-Plus. The Souls of Mischief. 

Cut from the same cloth as their Oakland blood brother Del The Funky Homosapien, it’s no surprise as to how they achieved instant classic status with their debut album “93 ‘til Infinity.” Few records attain a stupid fresh lyrical authenticity and soundscape for maximum consistency like this one.       

What may be perceived as motor-mouthed miscreants in passive listening, dig a little deeper and you’ll hear four wordsmiths who embody the mischievous eloquence of the great Geoffrey Chaucer. Loaded with groovy jazz loops as their weapon of choice, there is not one breath wasted on this record. An astonishing show of auteurism manifests itself in the form of the group’s breakneck flows. 

It wasn’t entirely uncommon to see rappers spitting a mile a minute during this time in the genre, yet Souls of Mischief never let it feel gimmicky. 

So when Tajai raps “You’re adding mass to my tip, you pips/I’m Gladys Knight (glad it’s night) ’cause darkness/Is where I best scar kids” over a funky bassline on “Let ‘Em Know,” he’s giving you a peek into his natural stream of consciousness. 

No other group was oozing such cerebral, fast-talking bravado quite like the Souls of Mischief were on “93 ‘til Infinity.” 

Skater punks and social outcasts were on their hands and knees chanting “We’re not worthy!” once they heard Phesto lay down Jedi references on wax and drop lyrical science such as “I swing off-beat, off the cerebellum, swellin’ membranes/Ten brains couldn’t parallel this/I’m carouselin’ kids while they wallow and swallow hollow tips.” 

Rhyming about how much better you are than your competition wasn’t anything new in 1993, but its refreshing quality compared to the oversaturation of reality rap became a life-changing alternative for the genre’s purists residing in California. 

How can Opio’s wordplay on “Never No More” not be explained as wittiness personified? “I’m swallowing MCs like I was a black hole, ransack those/Wack flows who chose to oppose/I don’t suppose, they’re aware I stunt what grows.” 

A proper retrospective of “93 ‘til Infinity” would not be complete without the title track that cemented the Souls of Mischief crew into the hip-hop ethos. 

The song’s production — masterfully crafted by A-Plus — has gone on to be paid homage to by popular contemporary artists. Gorgeously arranged, its graceful keys are frequently interrupted to make room for a strained saxophone note that inexplicably gives you the desire to find the closest street corner and kick a freestyle. Once the group’s verses arrive, there’s a pick your poison aura surrounding each member’s iconic lines and cadences. 

In a broader sense, “93 ‘til Infinity” was and still is proof of hip-hop’s evolution, debunking silly claims of the genre’s tendency to only feature one-trick ponies regardless of era. 

And what better way to thank the Souls of Mischief than by smoothly announcing, “This is how we chill…” Well I’m sure you know the rest.


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