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Posted on: March 26, 2004 11:00 MST
Filed under: Rap


The early 90's was a phenomenal period for Hip Hop on the West Coast. In Los Angeles, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg released their G-funked solo debuts, the Pharcyde took listeners for a Bizarre Ride on their happy lyrical roller coaster, and record stores made room on the rap shelves for Tha Alkaholiks’ inebriated freshman album. While most Hip Hop heads across the country focused on what was happening in L.A., a storm was brewing just 500 miles north. In East Oakland, a quartet of high school-aged emcees known as the Souls of Mischief was hard at work on their premier LP, '93 Til Infinity.

When the Souls’ debut was finally released, the spine of the rap world tingled. The Souls - Tajai, Opio, Phesto, A-Plus - along with their crew, Hieroglyphics, introduced a sound that had not been heard from the Bay Area since Del's phenomenal debut I Wish My Brother George Was Here. The album was composed of eclectic samples, and maintained a vibe that was funky, laid back, and energetic. The boastful rap style of the Souls emcees portrayed them as a crew that was both hungry and capable.

Since the release of the group’s third official album, Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution, the Souls, and Tajai in particular, have been experiencing tremendous growth. He collaborated with SUPREMEeX for the Projecto: 2501 EP, and released his Sleeping Giant mixtape of exclusive material in 2003. The complete Hieroglyphics crew released Full Circle in 2003, and the album received high praise from fans and critics alike. Continuously on the move, Tajai attributes the long-term success of the Hiero label to family attitude, right decisions at key times, commitment to musical excellence, and, most importantly, the fans.

While he still “finds it fun to smash emcees into fine bits”, Tajai is hard at work learning the ins and outs of the music industry. With more than a decade of hard work under his belt, his experience runs the gambit of production, engineering, manufacturing and marketing, as well as managing other artists and promoting tours. He is the manager for Souls Of Mischief and is heavily involved in all aspects of their careers.

Even with all of the business that goes along with putting out records, as a rising solo artist and a member of one of the most revered emcee collectives in the underground, Tajai's mind is constantly focused on making music. Trying to juggle the business and artistry of music is no doubt a tough job, especially in today’s shaky underground scene. “Hiero is in a good position because the fan base is growing, and there is a critical mass of people who seek out the good stuff,” Tajai explains. “We just can't let them down; we need to put out quality material on a continuous basis. This goes for all underground artists. We have to combat the mainstream's media lockdown by actually being better and more efficient, and by sticking together.”

Hot on the heels of the 47-city ‘Hieroglyphics Full Circle Tour’, followed by the 26-city ‘Traditional Rap Tour’ with Camp Lo and Grand Agent, Tajai is poised to drop his first solo album, Power Movement on the Hiero label on April 20th. This project is a collection of hard-hitting beats and thought-provoking rhymes aimed to get people off of their asses and into the movement. Tajai is motivated in the true spirit of Hip Hop, and intends to give fans music they can appreciate.

“I bring a balance,” explains Tajai. “In saying that I mean that I am trying to represent the true concept of the B-Boy, not just a caricature of one emotion or image that I portray through my music - but the full spectrum of any Hip Hopper in this current day and age. I am a human being, a Black man, an emcee, a father, a wild dude - one who loves the children but brings an adult perspective. I don't mean I am trying to balance out the negative stuff in the industry with my positive energy, topics, or concepts - although that is another of my goals. More so I mean that I am trying to represent a whole, complete human being, with both the shining and tarnished sides. At the same time, lyrically, stylistically and conceptually I feel that I am pushing the envelope, bringing a sound and creating songs that no one else in this industry can. Because I give of myself as a whole person, my uniqueness shines through.”

The first single from Power Movement, “The Dum Dum”, has been receiving heavy airplay on both radio and cable networks, and the second single “Do It!” follows with impact.
Watch out for this sleeping giant and his exciting show, full of mind-blowing energy, conscious freestyle and timeless wisdom. “I want listeners to get their minds in gear and be ready to roll,” says Tajai. “We have been complacent for a long time now, and it’s time for the truly creative, and the truly powerful Hip Hop nation to come together and claim this world as ours - taking responsibility for its future as well as Hip Hop's future.”
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