Hieroglyphics – The Kitchen


by Andrew

Hieroglyphics come straight from the nineties again with the crew album to remind those out there that gang mentality and ‘sippin syzurp’ are the shitty by-products of the money hungry attitude rap produced but its not the defining essential of hip-hop at its purist. For those that don’t know them, don’t judge this as “just another rap group”. They are “the” rap group. As far as a crew album goes, its pretty much Del Tha Funkee Homosapien who makes it, but that wouldn’t do justice to the others in the crew. ‘The Kitchen’ just proves that Del is not the only good MC in the crew and every man in Hiero is just as legit an artist as Del.

It kicks on the beats like nothing I’ve heard since the nineties and you could be forgiven for thinking this comes straight from twenty years ago. But that’s the Hiero sound. Nineties beats, big weed smoking lyrical prowess and samples like the true golden age of hip-hop. ‘The Kitchen’ carries every song on its shoulders for the entirety of the release. The Kitchen, for those that don’t know, is explained in the first intro track by Hiero, but in case you don’t hear it; the kitchen is the metaphoric heart of the home and in African American culture, the place where it all goes down. The love, the sharing, the debates, the expression and the dramas. Its just a constant reminder that Hiero are a group not concerned with money and fame. They build their tracks with just that; Love, sharing, debates, expression and drama.

Hiero crew have fans that never wane and follow them across every single album released under each and every individual artist. This kind of passion was only seen in groups such as NWA and the fabled East vs West hip-hop battle from the mid to late nineties. But the last laugh is being had by Hieroglyphics, who are still alive, still representing and still as golden as they were almost twenty years ago.

Despite many other artists and composer in the Hieroglyphics crew, by far the most famous is Del. He breathes life in to every track he’s on and although he doesn’t try, he overshadows everyone else by pure volume and unique voice. This release is actually very interestingly placed; just before the auspicious release of Deltron 3030’s highly anticipated 2nd album ‘Event II’. I understand Hiero is made up of many other legit artists who all have their own followings, but Del brought me here and it will always feel like his group. Well, he did pioneer the popularity of Hiero, but he also still dictates where the albums are released and when the fit the time in to record. His battle with illness over the last couple of years made it harder and harder for them to record but its finally here.

Trackwise, ‘Golden’ brings it like you would expect. Like a Deltron track, Del flows and emphasises every line like it’s the last. But I love the good time vibe of smoke track ‘Indonesia’. With the hazy scattered and scratched intro leading to one of the best smoking tracks I’ve heard since Snoop fell off the weed wagon. It even returns as an interlude a couple of tracks later with scratched up composition adding to the feeling you may have skipped backwards in time but a little more baked than you were before. Just like ‘Living it Up’ and ‘The Mayor’, nothing reminds you of the golden era than Del’s voice rolling over the best scratch Hiero beats I’ve heard in a long time.

As far as criticisms and downsides go, its very same-y. Just like returning to older Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli, its got a very San Fran/Oakland sound. Yeah I know, they’re from Oakland, but its funny how distinct the Cali sound is. Just reminds me so much of their earlier stuff and that could be ‘their’ sound, but it feels just a tiny bit out-dated by the end of the album; and it’s a long album too. But I have to say, they don’t release many albums as a crew and anything from Hiero is a thousand times better than what’s around today; but all I want is more versatility.

***Smoked Out Bliss***

7/10 Kitchen Beats {Abrasive Andy}

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