There are things to know about Oakland in the 1990s: the Ebonics debates, the crack-era violence, 2pac’s emergence, the Raiders’ homecoming. Souls of Mischief, one of the city’s stalwart hip-hop groups, made the classic “‘93 Till Infinity,” a song whose rhythm and cadence perfectly encapsulates the era. Now they’re back with a concept album called “There Is Only Now,” that looks back at the decade to make sense of the present.
It’s the group’s fifth studio album and boasts some of the decade’s most influential artists, including A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg and 70’s legend William Hart of The Delfonics.
Tajai Massey, one of the group’s four members, told San Francisco Weekly that the new record is meant to celebrate the city’s head-scratching contradictions, which include high crime rates and some of the country’s most distinctive multicultural communities. “We’re not walking around saying we are from big bad Oakland,” he told Gary Moskowitz. “People condemn the violence, they make it too much of a topic, but it’s part of living here. It’s not a constant daily thing for us in the band, thankfully, but for some people here, it is. And dealing with violence is traumatic.”
The record was recorded over the course of three months in Los Angeles with producer Adrian Younge. You can stream it below.