The Hieroglyphics crew is a lodestar of underground music. They've been a major presence in East Bay hip-hop since the early 1990s, when Del the Funky Homosapien, Souls of Mischief and Casual made classic albums like I Wish My Brother George Was Here, 93 'Til Infinity and Fear Itself. And since they collectively decided to go independent as Hiero Imperium in 1997 (while adding Pep Love to the crew), they've been the scene's godfathers, sustaining a business model that relies on heavy touring, canny use of their three-eyed brand and, yes, no major-label distribution. They've even launched a Hiero Day festival that draws several thousand people each summer.
Hieroglyphics remain a quiet and oft-unacknowledged influence, such as when Casual pointed out that he originated the term "Rapgod" on his 2011 album He Think He #Rapgod before Eminem repurposed it for a hit single. While people tend to focus on their early '90s classics like Souls' "93 'Til Infinity," they continue to make good music, as the just-released Hieroglyphics album The Kitchen and Deltron 3030 album Event II prove. This playlist samples from a group that may need no introduction but certainly deserves a fresh listen.