Del, Souls of Mischief and the rest of the Hieroglyphics family certainly aren’t on the radar of the hip-hop community the way they were back in the mid-90′s. That doesn’t mean they quit the game, they simply regrouped and put out music on their own Hieroglyphics Imperium label once the major label love ran out.
For anyone who needs to catch up on what Hiero’s been up to for the last decade, the aptly named Over Time is a good place to start. Weighing in at 14 tracks, it’s a collection of remixes and b-sides from the last ten years, with one new track thrown in for good measure. Even fans who have kept up with the crew may find something they haven’t heard before, since, in the group’s own words, some of those b-sides are “hard as fuck to find.”
Like most compilations, this one has its uneven moments, but the varied production offers a little something for everyone. Musically, things range from the strings that propel Del and Tajai’s “Masterminds” to the piano loop that provides the backdrop for “Greed” by A-Plus. Domino remixes the classic posse cut “You Never Knew” to give it a little bit more of an aggressive feel – a big contrast to the breezy video version that saw everyone relaxing in Hawaii – and his simple but effective loops breathe new life into Del’s “Phoney Phranchise.”
Hiero shows some depth of subject matter too, with offerings like “If You Must (Automator Remix)”, Del’s humorous ode to cleanliness, and the previously unreleased “Battle of the Shadow,” which sees Del and A-Plus get a little civic-minded. Not everything works: some solo efforts like Casual’s “The Scandle” drag a bit, and Del gets a little too far out on “Cyberpunks”. Other tracks suffer in the beat department, most notably the remix of “Fight Club”, which doesn’t hit hard enough to match up with the ferocity of Pep Love’s verses.
Still, there’s never been any doubting the members of the Imperium from a lyrical standpoint, and it should come as no surprise that the best moments on this disc come when the whole team assembles to spit some straightforward rhymes. Tracks like Tommy Tee’s “Soundscience” remix and “Heat” give multiple MC’s the chance to shine, and make you wish for another full team effort like 2001′s 3rd Eye Vision.
Maybe a greatest hits disc is in order, as the Hieroglyphics crew has built up quite a body of work over the last 15-plus years. Until that happens, collections like this one prove that no matter how often musical trends might change, good hip hop is good hip hop. And if you’ll excuse the pun, it tends to hold up…over time.
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