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14 February, 2005@12:00 am

“Dial the seven digits, call up Bridget, Her man’s a midget, plus she got friends, Yo, I can dig it,” Opio rhymed on the 1993 title track from the Souls of Mischief debut album, ’93 ‘Til Infinity, an album regarded by many as a certified hip-hop classic during an era when much of rap music was starting to turn towards the mainstream. Doubling as part of the esteemed Souls of Mischief crew and the even more highly respected Hieroglyphics family, Opio has repeatedly come correct with his nasally delivery and cocaine-fix flow, breezing through tracks almost as quickly as they start with a witty attitude and character. That said (and much to the credit of the tight-knit Hiero imprint), it is surprising that it has taken over a decade and multiple posse releases for a Souls of Mischief member to break out creatively and deliver a solo album worthy of a listen from the Hieroglyphics fan base. While other hip-hop groups have often found that solo ventures yield nothing but critical disdain and an angry response from diehard fans, Opio’s Triangulation Station should find solace in the opus of hip-hop music delivered on the second Souls solo effort.

     With circa 1993 intentions and 2005 execution, Triangulation Station rarely strays very far from the Souls of Mischief or Hieroglyphics molds, respectively, with Opio’s “It’s in my brain, it’s in my main vein” proclamations on the introductory “Viva Main Vein” proving that he is just not ready to give up this old hip-hop thing. The conceptual “Dream…But Don’t Sleep” follows up the initial Opio track with a look into the dangers of recreational substance abuse from the vantage point of Opio’s soul, an effort that reiterates his goal of spitting something other than just catchy bars and hooks.
 “What’s Wrong With This Picture,” pairs Opio with fellow Hieroglyphic Del the Funky Homosapien, as the two debate over the ills of society. “So easy to regurgitate the trash that they feeding ya, Perverting and distorting the truth through the mass media,” Opio spits before also questioning the legality of prescription drugs over illegal substances like marijuana. The dreamy drama of “Roxxanne,” Opio’s perfect female companion, who just happens to sling drugs every now, then, and now again as a queen drugpin, demonstrates that the Soul of Mischief is not above kicking a story for hip-hop audiences. And the catchy feminine sample on “Talk Dirty” croons as Opio and Pep Love cosign on their tales of lust and pillow talk between the sheets.

 For as conceptual, lyrical, and catchy as the parts of the three-sided Triangulation Station can be at times though, “Drivers Wanted” reunites Opio with Phesto, Tajai, and A-Plus and proves that the Souls of Mischief crew still has some juice left in the tank. All four emcees supply standout lyrical performances that break up the occasionally mundane all-Opio, all-the-time format of much of the disc. And worst of all, “Drivers Wanted” illustrates how Hiero fans may interpret this group cut as “Souls of Mischief Wanted,” with the quadruple-team still functioning best as a complete unit.
 Though not nearly as encompassing or as impressive as earlier efforts by Opio alongside his Souls of Mischief and Hieroglyphics brethren, Triangulation Station harvests enough quick-paced productions from Opio and a host of sound bytes that transfer one track to the next. The debut solo effort from Opio may not be another ’93 ‘Til Infinity on its own, but it does give living proof to the fact that the mighty Oakland Souls of Mischief crew may just survive from ’93 ‘til infinity. And it continues on with a quick stop through the Station of Opio.

  Mixtape D.L.
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