Souls Of Mischief - 93 'Til Infinity
On the face of it, it’s one of hip-hop history’s most perplexing mysteries – if, admittedly, perhaps not the most pressing. How come the Souls of Mischief’s truly excellent debut didn’t turn the band into a household name – at least, in the sorts of households where the likes of De La Soul or A Tribe Called Quest needed no introduction? Why didn’t a group as uncommonly talented, who arrived with a commendable pedigree and signed to a powerhouse label, at a point in the genre’s history where the music was no longer the preserve of purists or experts, and with a record that contained little that would put off or alienate the casual (no pun intended) listener, not just succeed in establishing themselves and creating a fan base that would sustain a decades-long career (which it did), but go on and properly crack the mainstream?
There is little here for anyone to dislike, never mind be afraid of. 93 ‘Til Infinity is a gem – focused, sharp, lyrically bedazzling, musically rich, complicated yet easy-on-the-ear, clever but never indulgently show-offy. The emcees’ effortless, effervescent flows ring with a joie de vivre all but absent in today’s lackadaisical, formulaic mainstream hip hop, and which was pretty remarkable back at the close of the Golden Age too. The production is handled with a similarly light touch, the deep knowledge of some lesser-used colours of the sample-wielder’s palette carried lightly, nothing deployed in a way that suggests we are supposed to be impressed by the scholarship rather than wowed by the tunes. Yet it remains very much a specialist’s choice – an album loved by those it touched, yet which today stands all but unknown among a wider world that would, surely, have taken it to their hearts with every bit as much gusto as they’d embraced 3 Feet High & Rising or People’s Instinctive Paths… a couple of years before. To take a leaf out of the Blastmaster’s book: why is that?
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