[30 July 2008]
Opio’s place in hip-hop history is well cemented. His work in the Souls of Mischief and Hieroglyphics is the type of stuff underground Oakland rappers can only dream of. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, take a listen to the Souls of Mischief classic “93 ‘til Infinity”, or perhaps the whole album of the same name, and hang your head in shame. But I digress. Opio, who began releasing solo records in 2005, is primed to once again dazzle underground fans with his latest, Vulture’s Wisdom Vol. 1. Although it’s produced by The Architect and not Opio himself or one of his longtime pals, the album retains the same funky, true-school sound.
Both the rapper and the producer get a chance to shine individually on here. Opio absolutely destroys “Original Lyricist” with his beastly flow and clever wordplay. The Architect’s “The Prize” is an exceptional effort that sounds like it crept out of MF DOOM’s skull. Other tracks, like the exemplary “About Love” and the media-biting “To the People”, show how well these two play off one another. Above them all, however, is “Vice Versa”. The ever-changing beat matched with Opio’s rapping will keep even the most ADHD-riddled listener interested. Rather than fill this album to the brim, Opio and The Architect hurl out 14 songs that leave you wanting more, which comes as a smart move. Although the voice-overs and editing aimed to detract piracy were distracting, what I did hear was a collection of strong material that hardly disappoints.