As hiphop heads from the West Coast, we are all well acquainted with Oakland's mighty Hieroglyphics crew. Initially hoisted on the back of Del the Funky Homosapien, the three-eyed logo was forever burned into the skies with Souls of Mischief's 93 'Til Infinity, a five-star hiphop classic, a primer of cipher-rat show-and-prove that became a much- welcome foil to the Death Row gangsta rap hegemony of the time. I love that album and will always be charmed by the four-pronged attack of Phesto, Opio,

A-Plus, and Tajai's distinct flows­—I just never, ever want to hear the title track again. "That's When Ya Lost"? "Let 'Em Know"? Oh, yeah. "Limitations"? Fuck yes! But I never want to hear about Bridget and her man's diminutive frame, rulers, none of that, ever again. KUBE and a million DJs made sure of it. It's damn near "Return of the Mack" to me. Even though Casual's Fear Itself was an incredible flow clinic, and Del almost single-handedly introduced a new West Coast rap archetype, Infinity was Hiero's creative peak. Their work afterward is famously not up to the standards they set during the 1990s (and that includes their stars-aligned 1998 album, 3rd Eye Vision), with one very underappreciated exception. Pep Love, every bit the MC technician as his brothers Cas and the Souls, with just as distinct a voice as Del, didn't make his own solo album until 2001. That album, Ascension, was as heavy with precise, forceful MCing as it was with some of the most life-affirming, spirit-rich hiphop music ever laid down. "Pacific Heights" and "Living Is Beautiful" shine with Pep's love of life and natural splendor without coming off hemp kufi–cornball; "U.S." is a cosmic opus, pure star-born inspirational speech. It resonated mightily with me at the time and now, and for my money stands as the most mature and perceptive work to come from the Hiero camp. Pep has an upcoming album called Rigmarole, and the single/video "Can't Nobody Do It Like Us" finds Pep sporting a simpler flow that rings disingenuous and overly cynical for such a historically thorough MC.

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Why did I tell you all this? You probably already know—Hiero is invading the Crocodile on Wednesday, February (it's already February!) 1. The only name I mentioned from the camp who won't be present is Del, so any dreams of him autographing any snowboards (or listening to your crappy shroomed-out demo) are sadly dashed. Langston Hugh Hefner playboys Hi-Life Soundsystem, AudioDose Crew, and DJ Gumbeaux open up, and King Khazm hosts.

On Friday, February 3, at Neumos, wish my guy Scribes a happy birthday, damnit. He's rocking an all-ages jump-off with Portland's motherfuckin' heart, the world-traveling, radio-show-hosting-ass Cool Nutz, Kung Foo Grip (who have a solid heater on deck with their next record), E and Dae, Kingz of Kush, and my dude DJ Astronomar (who dropped a single on Mad Decent a minute ago) open up. Your host is Grynch, whose next album is called Perspective—something I find to be damned valuable. recommended