Hieroglyphics - The Kitchen

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Hieroglyphics aren't reinventing the wheel with "The Kitchen," but their constant relatability and the levity provided by the Sleeprockers is a winning recipe.

In some ways it’s hard to believe that The Hieroglyphics have only just released their third record. The oddball, Oakland-hailing crew is an amalgam of well-enough-known individuals and groups that it’s just as likely a fan would hit up a Hiero show to get a glimpse at Del The Funky Homosapien or Souls Of Mischief on their own as they would for the collective material. In an endearing way though, the group seems to offer a portrait of functional sustainability in Hip Hop. On the cusp of the twentieth anniversary of Souls Of Mischief’s debut, 93 ‘til Infinity, the larger group continues to act as a vehicle for all of its members to keep making—and touring—music in 2013.

Interestingly, The Kitchen also finds the already deep Hiero group enlisting Sacramento, CA based DJ crew the Sleeprockers to navigate the album’s being put together. The result is a project that is obviously handled by DJ’s/turntablists and overall ends up carrying a fitting vibe. Unlike the almost quota-based cuts that many emcees and producers feature on a song’s hook, the Sleeprockers themselves have nursed Hiero productions and tracks into a full-out, DJ-sequenced album.

The record’s first real song is the second track, “Livin It Up.” The song is built mostly out of a thumping bass and simple horn riff, the ensuing handclap is the last main piece of the beat and just like the introduction, the song also features a heavy DJ presence on the hook. The fourth track, “Golden,” finds the album and the group settling in a bit more; the result is a nicely looped up electric rhythm guitar on the upbeat and crisp as ever snares. “Golden” also opens with authentic beat juggling on the Sleeprockers part and not the more common pre-song airing out of a sample via drum pad mashing. The song’s hook, like the rest of the track, isn’t particularly ambitious but it is delivered to great effect: “Just like the tombs in Egypt / Soon as you see it / You’ll be speechless / Golden / No jive when we slide through / We gon’ provide you / With something to ride to / Golden.” Like other tracks on the album, “Golden” ends with an interlude leading into the next track. This time, the “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” jacked snippet ends with the perfect setup for Hiero’s politically weighty ensuing song: “Charlie, my boy, you’ve got the gun fever.”

Besides the general tightness and funkiness of “Gun Fever’s” production, the song is an obvious standout on the 17-track album, given it’s more directed subject matter. The track also offers up a nice example of how digestible Hiero’s short verse format can be: packed with five appearances the track doesn’t end up feeling long-winded or too quickly revolving either. Truthfully, Hiero doesn’t get too deep into the political debate at hand, but they paint a scarily accurate picture of the often-untold gun violence in this country (aside from the sensationalized mass killings, all members seem to point back to the type of inner-city violence that all too often fails to make headlines). Souls Of Mischief member’s Tajai’s verse works particularly well mostly due to his voice and flow fitting so well on top of the beat, and despite the Iraq reference, Taj is clearly rapping about cities like his own Oakland: “Come visit man, it’s real Iraq / Just had to wield my ratchet just to build my racket / These youngsters ain’t asking, they running up and they clacking / Assassins gassing, hey you’re gasping for your last one.” The ever paranoid Del The Funky Homosapien couldn’t be more justified in his fears of gun violence with his final verse: “Seeing this vicious cycle in my vision / Keeps me suspicious of passerbys and citizens / People pack pistols in their pocket for protection from predators / You never know when they might set it off.”  

Later, Hiero flip the notion of “work” (in either a cliche drug reference or a sexually vulgar brag) into their own celebration of successful merchandising, chanting “Clocking that merch / Stocking that merch / Rocking that merch / We got that merch.” While it is slightly tongue in cheek throughout, the song, which belongs solely to Hieroglyphics member Pep Love vocally, also offers up a true glimpse at an artist’s financial grind: “I got my own, I got my crew too / Sweatshirts, stickers and hats is what the booth do / For my true blues we bringing good news / And you can get it from us, I thought you knew.” Given the ubiquity of the group’s third-eye equipped logo, a track about selling t-shirts isn’t stale or forced either.

Ultimately, The Kitchen is a fun, easy listen. Given the laid-back, summery vibe and our own current weather, it acts as a great, mostly carefree release for the warmer months. Throughout, the sound is reliably smooth, both in the use of Soul and Funk samples as well as in the production’s execution. The addition of the five-man Sacramento DJ crew actually ends up lightening the album’s feel—a couple random interludes littered throughout don’t hurt either—rather than overloading it with yet another cast of characters. And while Hiero aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, their constant relatability (hearing Casual rap about his girlfriend’s annoyance with his Madden playing on “All As Above So Below” will soon be memorized by droves) and unforgiving passion are hard to knock

47 Comments

  • dorothy

    I like it. It was exciting to hear a new Heiro album, and they didn't disappoint. Let's face it, none of the Heiro albums are 4 1/2 or 5 stars. 3 1/2 stars is about right, although the lyricism on display here is above that mark.

  • nicknice44

    Whatever recipe they were using in 'the kitchen' left a bad taste in my mouth. Listened a few times and it's just not listenable. The production quality is average at best as the vocals are drowned out by the beats at certain points. There just weren't any catchy hooks, beats, or witty lyrics I'm used to. Possibly the Hiero group needs to filter out some of the members and let the prominent members shine like they did on Souls of Mischief. I found the song talking about "merch" to be a little offensive to the listeners.. that's purely a sales term and to brag about how they are making money off selling t-shirts, preying on the fans was a bit insulting.. that's just me. They had plenty of time to put this album out, I view this as failure.. let's hope they can team up with better producers and work on those lyrics.

  • Pegasus Flow

    Wasn't crazy about it on the first listen but certainly going to go back and see if I missed anything that might sway me

  • dan

    you mean montezumas revenge? you kidding me? that shit was dope! incredible album

  • Alex Fallow

    Dope album... 93' til infinity. Not many people can stay hard spitting for 20 years.

  • Cevon

    Maybe I need to give this another listen...lol. I found this to be almost inaudible its so bad and I love Hiero. 3rd Eye Vision is a classic and Full Circle was really ill. I think they've fallen off (so sad to say) as the last Souls of Mischief album I found equally as bad. Hopefully though Del can keep producing some decent solo stuff. Parallel Universes was dope. I'm eagerly anticipating new Deltron 3030 stuff

    • Anonymous

      YEA FIRST LIGHT WAS SICK...AND YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO IT AGAIN, THIS IS AN ALBUM THAT I FEEL GETS BTTER AFTER A FEW LISTENS...AND THE REASON IT MIGHT SOUND A LIL DIFFERENT IS THE SLEEPROCKERS WORKED WITH THEM ON THE ALBUM..BUT THATS MY OPINION, IDK I THOUGHT IT WAS THE BEST ALBUM THAT CAME OUT THIS YEAR

    • I'm At Work And Bored

      You should peep, First Light (Opio + Pep Love) - Fallacy Fantasy album. F*cking Ill

  • Anonymous

    better than techs album

  • def

    hiero is too advanced for most. the real heads know what's up though!!!!

  • Anonymous

    > RICK ROSS is the Best Lyricist in the game >

  • Gucci The realist

    Guci Mane realest rapper outthere: - this nigga throws bitches out his car - shoot niggas dead - beat niggas up. Gucci aint no fantasy nigga like: - mobb deep never sold drugs; - nas escobar lol nigga only had a ticket for parking his car wrong - 2pac never commited a crime before he became a rapper. - Game talks on his records about the life of his brother. His brother said that Game is no gangsta. Thats the reason of the beef between them; - Ice-T never was a O.G. or Copkiller but in fact he is a TV Cop; - Ice Cube was never a gangbanger but was bullied as a kid. - Eminem's image is fake and created by Interscope to sell records. Before 1997 Eminem didnt had white hair or was talking about that he was a whitetrash rapper. - Young Jeezy never was BMF; - Lil Wayne never was a blood although he was abused by Birdman as a child. The fakeness has to stop! The only real rapper is GUCCI MANE!

  • Anonymous

    Great Album. Glad to see they are back in full force. Very refreshing to hear that Hiero sound again!

  • Anonymous

    its better than techs album

  • Anonymous

    dont thnk gun fever fits on the cd dope album tho full circle my favorite

  • Switch32

    Anybody who doesn't enjoy this album isn't a TRUE fan of REAL hip-hop. End of story.

  • patrick

    third record by heiro? the corner, full circle , and 3rd eye vision already makes 3 not including anything without all members

    • nicknice601

      Jeff is correct and he didn't attack you personally. lighten up man, Jeff told the facts.

    • I'm At Work And Bored

      Yeah Jeff. Stop being an asshole...but you're right. This is the 3rd official Hiero group album

    • patrick

      I never said four just said three wasn't right.... jeff why do you have to be such an asshole? we are all heiro fans here

    • 93 till infinity

      and then you got deltron 3030 coming

    • Jeff

      Wrong. Their 3 albums total are, Third Eye Vision (1998), Full Circle (2003), and finally The Kitchen (2013). The Corner was a compilation album released in 2005, not a studio album. If you counted compilations as albums, you'd have 9 albums, 10 if you included the live record they released. Either way you'd be wrong on the 4 number.

  • Royce Da 5'9

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Cf_5s9G6Us

  • z1z ONER

    Breath of fresh air to hear a REAL hip hop album come out of the sea of monotony n glorification of drugs, violence, n overall destructive teachings. Heiro embraced the core of hip hop by enlisting the Sleeprockers and shows a way out of this musical abyss back to the art form of which we were raised.

  • alex campos

    Another classic by the hiero crew. Real hiero heads will appreciate this. Their rhymes and flows never diminish. Great album!

  • Anonymous

    I'm feelin it! Definitely better than that garbage on the radio

  • sorry

    Besides Del & Tame 1, Hiero hasn't made a good album since O.C.'s "Smoke & MIrrors."

  • Anonymous

    not bad at all...

  • Alll Riiiiight

    Real hip hop

    • nicknice

      Settle down, a guy can have his opinion, you don't need to personally attack him just because he doesn't like the album as much as you do.

    • dnpmonk25

      Thats a even more asinine response. Why are on this site? Looking for that AceHood right?????? Keep it Raw Real.

    • Anonymous

      No I listen to bunch of different music and dont have much room left so i have to be selective of what i put on and theirs just nothing special here they are good lyricist though

    • anonymous

      brown nosin in the industry, ya fake as fuck