Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
Originally released a week before I celebrated my 16th birthday, the mighty Souls of Mischief crew’s debut was one of the handful of albums that provided the central soundtracks to the latter half of my teenage years growing up in Oakland, California. It was also the album that first earned the Hieroglyphics collective broader acclaim and contributed to elevating the West Coast to hip-hop prominence and parity with their East Coast peers. This coastal dynamic is perhaps most succinctly manifest on “That’s When Ya Lost,” with the group’s A-Plus proclaiming “Now I'm gonna show you how the west coast smacks kids,” a rebuttal of sorts to KRS-One’s “Now I’m gonna show you how the East Coast Rocks / Bumpin' sucker MCs out the box” on Boogie Down Productions’ “Original Lyrics” from their 1990 Edutainment LP.
A fixture on the Bay Area hip-hop scene that deservedly made plenty of waves on both a national and international scale, the Oakland bred quartet of Tajai, Opio, Phesto and A-Plus embodied—and still to this day, represent—the essence and spirit of pure, underground hip-hop. The group’s compelling convergence of witty lyricism atop inventive soundscapes driven by a mélange of lesser known sampled fare made their first LP an instant classic. It was also intrinsically a Hiero family affair, with each emcee bestowing his nuanced style upon the ceremonies, with production duties assumed by Domino, Del the Funky Homosapien, A-Plus, Jay Biz, and Casual.
While understandably best known for its unforgettable title track, the album’s brilliance extends far beyond, with a bevy of standout cuts like “Live and Let Live, “That’s When Ya Lost,” “Never No More,” “Anything Can Happen,” and “Tell Me Who Profits.”
More than a quarter-century in the rap game and still going strong as evidenced by their most recent LP, 2014’s Adrian Younge helmed There Is Only Now, it’s obvious that there’s no expiration date on their musical powers as 93 ‘til Infinity suggested.