In hip hop's current stretch of noteworthy 20th year anniversaries, Bay Area golden-era rap heroes Souls of Mischief may have just bested the field by celebrating with the release of new music as tight as the records that first made their name two decades ago. A chance Twitter convo and the story of a near-death experience that happened to the group back in 1994 instantly roped in the astonishingly talented composer and project producer Adrian Younge, whose signature sample-free, '70s psychedelic soul creations help to perfectly mould the conceptual retelling of that story on There Is Only Now.
Themes of crime, lust, jealousy and revenge are each woven into the tale through some impressively-choreographed lyrical interplay between the group's four members, who juke and jostle to recount their own sections of this unwieldy chronicle while sidestepping Younge's numerous spontaneous beat shifts and beautiful orchestral breakdowns. Fresh, crisp drums, creamy keys, luxuriant strings and timely flute and horn flourishes, each held together by a series of mood-defining bass lines, work to soundtrack this production, an inspiring foil that the record's MCs make certain not to waste on this grand testament to Souls' skill and staying power. (Linear Labs)