Hieroglyphics Full Circle

Representing the second collective record from Bay Area rhyme conglomerate Hieroglyphics, Full Circle brings together some of the Left Coast’s most influential rhymers again after their warmly received Third Eye Vision effort five years ago. It was a decade ago, however, that the crew redefined the perception of West Coast hip-hop. Armed with quick wit, breakneck flows, distinctive personalities and clever lyrics, the primary members of the Hieroglyphics; Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Casual and Souls of Mischief, who issued the peerless ’93 Til Infinity, dropped plenty of classic material. Despite the presence of these seasoned groups on the record, it’s Pep Love, the MC who played apprentice back in the day, who comes to the fore here. Every time he steps to the mic, he flaunts myriad flows, abstract lyrics and invigorating delivery, having clearly inherited the best traits of the Hiero legacy. However, Souls of Mischief’s Tajai is also in fine form tearing apart “Let It Roll” with his cascading pitch rhyme style, while Souls' Opio’s hunger and the steadying force of the raspy-voiced Casual throughout are also to be noted. The crew mix things up between battle-oriented and storytelling tracks with posse cuts like “Darkness,” a good representation of the former and the calm thought-provoking entry “Make You Move” with Casual, Pep Love and the ethereal presence of Goapele the best of the latter. The stripped-down beats nod to the crew’s past, but the crew’s word-weaving penchant is clearly the focus. While Del fans will notice his background status here and some tracks could have been trimmed for brevity’s sake, Full Circle proves unlike many crews ten years into the game, that Hiero can still bring the heat by using their power in numbers. (Hiero Imperium)