Sound Bites: Opio, ‘Vulture’s Wisdom Vol. 1’ (Hiero Imperium, 2008)
August 14, 2008
The word “conscious” relegated dozens of worthy hip-hop artists to the bargain bin about a decade ago, so I’m going to be careful describing Opio’s “Vulture’s Wisdom Vol. 1.”
It’s not easy-listening hip-hop by any stretch of the imagination: Opio’s nimble flow, especially coupled with the Architect’s beats, is just really easy to listen to.
In fact, with his latest release, Opio has tried to channel the sound of the mid-’90s and the vibe of some artists who were able to overcome such labeling: “People are trying to tap into that energy, whereas I am that energy,” Opio said in a news release about the new album.
According to the release, “Vulture’s Wisdom” sprang out of a series of conversations between Opio ” a member of Souls of Mischief, themselves a subset of Hieroglyphics ” and the Architect, and Opio began writing lyrics as fast as the Architect could supply beats.
“We embody the energy that people are trying so desperately to recapture or reconnect with,” Opio said. “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.”
It sounds like an embodiment of the energy and the process as well. The longest track by far is “Stop the Press,” at 4:52, and it was my least favorite on “Vulture’s Wisdom,” with Opio seemingly trying to emulate the unbalanced braggadocio of Eminem or Mad Child. Elsewhere, though, Opio’s easy flow bounces briskly along with the Architect’s beats, and it seems like the album’s over in a heartbeat.
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It’s deceptively easy, though, as Opio manages to throw out a variety of references. “Outside Lookin’ In” tosses a shout-out that only an East Coaster might catch ” to the Beatnuts’ Psycho Les. “To the People” mentions not only Richard Pryor but Brian Austin Green, Willem Dafoe and Richard Petty, and it references “Black Caesar” and “Patriot Games” and bites a line from ODB.
“Original Lyricist” is verbal sprint like “16 Bars” or “Thought @ Work” ” all bars, no verse, and “The Prize” follows suit, only with the beat changing behind Opio’s rhymes.