Hieroglyphics come to Tahoe to unveil more from the Imperium | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hieroglyphics come to Tahoe to unveil more from the Imperium

Lake Tahoe Action

Hieroglyphics always had vision ” three eyes’ worth ” and it’s come to fruition in the form of the Imperium.

Only an Imperium could pull off a feat like the 45-date, three-month long “Freshly Dipped” Tour, which stops at Whiskey Dick’s on Sunday. Not only will Hiero perform, but the Imperium will show off the new Hiero Jeans clothing line.

“We are putting this tour together to thank our fans for their years of loyal support, expose them to our new projects including our brand-new lifestyle line, Hiero Jeans , and to celebrate the ways that hip-hop style has influenced the fashion world,” Hiero Imperium CEO Tajai Massey said in a news release.

The experimental Hiero emerged from the hip-hop laboratory that is the Bay Area over the past two decades. Since then, the collective has established itself while raising up the careers of its member artists ” rappers Del the FunkyHomosapien, Casual, Pep Love and Domino, and the group Souls of Mischief. According to the group’s biography, Hieroglyphics have sold more than 3 million units, not counting the various tapes and underground recordings from the early days.

Del blazed the trail, dropping “I Wish My Brother George Was Here” in 1991, following up with “No Need for Alarm” in 1993 (both on Elektra) and earning props more for his unique flow than for being Ice Cube’s NorCal cousin. Souls of Mischief debuted that same year with “93 til Infinity,” Casual released “Fear Itself” the next year, and Souls followed up with “No Man’s Land” in 1995, all on the Jive label.

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Hieroglyphics learned some hard lessons about the music business but were armed with experience and insight when they founded Hiero Imperium in 1997. They released their first album, “Third Eye Vision” as a collective, then each individual artist followed suit on the new label.

Hiero bolstered its presence by embracing technology and the Internet (hieroglyphics.com), maintaining a strong presence on video game and snowboard movie soundtracks, and designing a three-eyed logo that became an icon.

“When I invented that symbol, I never thought it would get this big,” Del told SF Weekly in 2000. “I’ve seen about 20 people with that tattoo. I saw a comic book ” like ‘Clerks’ or something ” and one of the fools in there had a Hiero shirt on. I saw a Redman and Method Man video, and there’s somebody in the crowd with a Hiero shirt on. I think slowly but surely people are starting to pay attention to us.”

That third-eye vision has enabled the collective to see things differently and break some hip-hop molds. Hiero released one of hip-hop’s first CD-DVD hybrids, “One Big Trip” in 2002, and the members have collaborated with the likes of not only Dilated Peoples, Q-Tip, Xzibit and Jurassic 5 but also George Clinton and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura.

Del and Dan the Automator, who have collaborated on the Deltron 3030 and Handsome Boy Modeling School projects, joined forces with Damon Albarn of the British band Blur and comic-book creator Jamie Hewlett for the fictional band Gorillaz and its self-titled debut. With the help of a book about how to write a hit song, Del laid down the flow for “Clint Eastwood,” which became a platinum single and hit video.

“I bought it as a joke,” he said in a news release. “But when I started reading it I was like, ‘Damn! This book is dope.’ The first page basically says, ‘You’ve gotta be original over anything else, or else you ain’t gonna make it.’ “

“When I bought that book, it was like the go-ahead for me,” Del said. “I used the information that I learned in that book to write the song with Gorillaz. That’s the first song that I tried that stuff out on, and it went platinum. If I wanted my proof, it was right there. So I gave the platinum plaque to my mom, like, ‘Here, you helped me get this.’ She was like, ‘How?’ I didn’t tell her right off the bat it was because she bought the gift certificate.”

The year 2003 was Hiero’s high-water mark. The collective hit its highest gross and formed a new distribution wing to showcase independent artists such as Z-Man and Encore, and soul singer Goapele.

Hiero followed “Third Eye Vision” with “Full Circle” in 2004, and Souls of Mischief member Tajai, Opio, Casual, Pep Love and Del have all released solo albums in the past three years. Opio also dropped a new album, “Vulture’s Wisdom Vol. 1” on the Imperium label July 12. (See music review.)

Souls of Mischief, Pep Love, Casual and Domino join Musab, Tanya Morgan and Knobody at Whiskey Dick’s for a 9 p.m. show Sunday, Aug. 17. The underground pioneers promise a show that’s a vision to behold.