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Hiero Day 2017

Grown from Oakland

I talked about 2017’s Hiero Day with my manager at work, who use to be on Hieroglyphics’s label. We talked festival logistics, from pricing to setting up stages, and what makes a festival last. The one thing Hiero Day has above any other festival is its community.

Not many rap groups get a day commemorated to them by their city, and in turn make it a day of giving local musicians & artists a platform to show off their work. It’s a festival that’s grown from the area rather than copied and planted into the scene like many other festivals.

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Hiero Day 2015

Annual festival in Oakland

Hieroglyphics is a hip hop group out of Northern California. Each year they celebrate new hip hop talent with their own festival in Oakland on Labor Day. I got the chance to cover their show this year and even though there were over a dozen quality performers to see on each stage, I was there for one.

It took me over three hours to get to Hiero Day, public transit wasn’t doing so well. When I got there the temp had to be hitting on 90 and everyone was looking for shade to sit in. But I had to find Anderson .Paak. The main reason I was there.

I caught him right before his performance on the Third Eye stage. I ran up to him like a giddy fool and blathered about my love for his music. When I realized how foolish I was sounding, his manager assured me that they all felt the same way too. We talked a bit longer about other LA emcees, I actually told him the only other one that could compete with him was Doja Cat. He got a kick out of it.

His performance on stage had just as much character as his music, along with the short time I talked to him. The day was a highlight I’ll be holding on to at least until next Labor Day.

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Ill-Oet: The Last Element by Libretto

Love Lifesavas? Love Libretto.

When I first heard Lifesavas around five, six years ago, I liked ’em so much I had to find anything else like ’em. That group was Libretto or so I thought. For all these years I thought Libretto was a group, but now that I researched a little, I find out the ‘group’ was actually just one person. I guess it just shows what I thought a group could do one man pulled off.

What he pulled off would be the funkalicious album, Ill-Oet: The Last Element, back in ’04. Libretto’s also releasing some new singles soon, but until we can get our hands on them we’ll stick with his first album.

Ill-Oet: The Last Element has the quality of a Lifesavas album with two exceptions. Lyrically, Libretto doesn’t stack up to what Vursatyl & Jumbo, the two MC’s of Lifesavas, can do. Libretto’s Ill-Oet: The Last Element also doesn’t have the consistency that each Lifesavas LP does. He may not have the amount of hits that Lifesavas does, but he does have a few. Check out the two best, “Last Drop” & “Volume” – the latter actually features Lifesavas, and see what impressed me so much by this one-man band.

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[audio:Volume.mp3,Last-Drop.mp3|titles=Volume (feat. Lifesavas),Last Drop]

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Hellohihey by Lifesavas

For all those arrogant MC's.

Banner of Lifesavas

I wanted to feature another song from Lifesavas’s latest album, Gutterfly: The Original Soundtrack (2007), but I already featured “No Surprise” a while back, so I wanted to go with something from their first album, Spirit in Stone. I haven’t been listening to these guys as much lately, mostly because they haven’t come out with anything new for a while, but this feature, as well as many other tracks by ’em, are a must have for any hip-hop head.

So, I was debating between two songs from Spirit in Stone – one with a better beat, one with the a better storyline – and unlike my usual self, I went with the lyrical selection. Sorry “It’s Over“, maybe next time, this one goes to “Hellohihey” for its well crafted story and witty dialogue. The song portrays an egotistical MC, played by Vursatyl, who thinks he is God’s gift to hip-hop. Typical rapper right… well, the story comes together in the end with a humble closing, which is refreshing to hear amongst all the misogynistic rap coming out these days.

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[audio:Hellohihey.mp3|titles=Hellohihey]

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No Surprise by Lifesavas

"My written word makes kittens purr."

Banner for Gutterfly

Another group from the well-respected Quannum label, Lifesavas may not be as well-known as some of the members on the label, but they sure are just as good. Lifesavas is a fine mix of hip-hop, funk and R&B. The two MCs mix exceptionally well together with Shines funkified, soulful sounds. Vursatyl has a smart & crafty delivery, supported by Jumbo’s groovy & soulful sound. Lifesavas is considered more fun & free will than my usual selection, and this is exemplified in No Surprise.

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[audio:NoSurprise.mp3|titles=No Surprise]

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