Fifteen years on, Souls of Mischief's '93 Til Infinity is regarded as a classic from the golden era of hip-hop. As one fourth of Souls (the others being A-Plus, Tajai, and Phesto), Opio has seen hip-hop ebb and flow between different styles over the last decade. Lately, the style barometer has swung back a few years with artists like Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco trying to appropriate the classic mid 90's sound for their releases. When asked how he feels about this trend, Opio is unambivalent: "People are trying to tap into that energy, whereas I am that energy." This is no braggadocio. In fact, Opio is probably the most laid back and humble member of The Hieroglyphics. Instead, it is an honest self-assessment of what Opio represents in the world of hip-hop; he is a living legend that has been recording and touring consistently for more than fifteen years. Vulture's Wisdom, Volume One is a challenge to bloated hip-hop: fourteen songs in under 39 minutes (many of them close to the two minute mark), no skits, just golden-era rap polished to a 2008 sheen. Vulture's Wisdom, Volume One is the first chapter of a forthcoming trilogy of albums that will be released over the next twelve months on Hiero Imperium Records.
As a teen, Opio hooked up with local rappers Tajai and A-Plus, whom he met through Casual, another emcee who was Opio's classmate and neighbor. The three instantly clicked and began recording together, soon adding fourth emcee Phesto Dee, to form the group Souls of Mischief. Together with Del the Funky Homosapien, Casual, Domino, and Pep Love, the legendary crew Hieroglyphics was born. Opio has always done double duty for Hiero as both an emcee and producer. Opio's recent production credits include the track "Naked Fonk" from Del The Funky Homosapien's recent 11th Hour. Despite many group releases with Souls and Hieroglyphics, it took twelve years for Opio's first solo effort to come out. After working on it for two years, Opio released Triangulation Station in 2005 and moved over 20,000 units.
Now it seems that Opio is switching in to high gear. In the last twelve months Opio has readied not one, not two, but three albums for release over the next year. Despite doing all of the production work on his first solo album, for Vulture's Wisdom, Opio opted to look for outside help. "For this record I wanted to focus on the emcee side of me. On Triangulation Station I was very self-conscious and nit picky about every little detail. On this one I was way more relaxed. There was no pressure and it came very easily." All three albums are produced by Oakland-based The Architect, whose production credits include early Stones Throw releases, Coolio, Planet Asia, and Encore. Opio's focus on rapping was deliberate. "I feel as though the era of emcees that say they are not 'rappers' and hide behind tales of intrigue must come to an end. Why does everyone in hip-hop have to be some sort of entrepreneur or aspiring mogul? Clothes, cars, jewelry, reality shows, whatever. How about just rappin'? If you suck at rappin', just admit it, don't try to be a gangster and punk me into thinking you're any good because you've got a special edition of Air Force Ones out. This record is for the real heads. I know we're out there. We just need to unite."
The idea for collaborating on Vulture's Wisdom came about in conversations between The Architect and Opio after they met while sharing neighboring studio spaces. These conversations sparked a flood of creativity from Opio that longtime fans may be surprised by. "Most people don't realize it because his public image comes across as a laid back emcee, but along with A-Plus and Domino, Opio is the creative core of Hieroglyphics," remarks Tajai, CEO of Hiero Imperium. As fast as The Architect could supply beats, Opio was penning lyrics. Before he knew it, he had more than enough material for one album. At that point, the idea of putting out a back-to-roots, stripped down rap trilogy was born. While there was no conscious effort to make all the songs short and to the point, Opio attributes this to his love of early punk rock songs. "Of course I grew up listening to the early days of hip-hop, but I also listened to bands like The Ramones and Suicidal Tendencies. Their songs are so short; you just want to listen to them over and over."
The theme for Vulture's Wisdom came about during one conversation in which The Architect and Opio were discussing the commoditization of the hip-hop lifestyle. "The Architect and I sat back and watched people pick at this thing we call hip-hop until there seemed to be nothing of any value left. After everybody gorged themselves and walked away we swooped in with the vulture's wisdom. It's our time… We embody the energy that people are trying so desperately to recapture or reconnect with. We never fell prey to all the trappings of materialism. Our music has stayed true to the art form and this album is a tribute to that."