Concert review: Hieroglyphics still have pep in their hip-hop

Tahoe Onstage

Stoney Hawk at the Virginia Street Brewhouse.
Shaun Astor / Tahoe Onstage photos

“You might be blinded by all the materialism, but Hiero we’re all about the spiritual side of hip-hop.” So announced Opio as the nine members of Oakland hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics proceeded onstage.

Touring to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the prophetic 3rd Eye Vision album, Hiero hit downtown Reno at Virginia Street Brewhouse with a level of ferocity, artistry and complexity that only a group of members all throwing their collective skills into a 20-year-old project could.

Made up of seven emcees, a DJ and a percussionist, the group easily filled out the Virginia Street Brewhouse stage Tuesday night, taking turns stepping to the and mixing songs from their collection of albums throughout that two-decade period

With the Bay Area’s proximity to Reno, Hiero has a history in this town, and it seemed each of the openers — as well as members of Hieroglyphics themselves — acknowledged the love between the artists and the Biggest Little City.

“I saw Hiero when they came through years ago, god, was that the New Oasis? The Underground?” noted Junes from Reno’s Glass Tung, which opened. Hiero’s A-Plus later returned the compliments – “We love coming here. Y’all are just over the hill. Y’all are like cousins to us!”

Any group performing with all original members after 20 years is a feat, let alone a group of nine. Despite having so many members, and considering their other musical projects, it seems like Hieroglyphics is able to tour somewhat regularly.

On top of Hiero’s performance, collective members also brought their other projects onstage to open the night. Hiero emcee Tajai took the stage in a mask and performed songs off of his Rap Noir albums, presenting a menacing and sinister trap arrangement that oozed a streets-of-Oakland influence.
A-Plus took DJ duties while Souls of Mischief’s Sunspot Jonz rapped on the group’s Stoney Hawk project, with a beefy delivery and reverberating throughout the Brewhouse’s full room.

— Shaun Astor

About Shaun Astor

Shaun Astor cites pop music singers and social deviants as being among his strongest influences. His vices include vegan baking, riding a bicycle unreasonable distances and fixating on places and ideas that make up the subject of the sentence, "But that’s impossible…" He splits his time between Reno and a hammock perched from ghost town building foundations. Check out his work at www.raisethestakeseditions.com

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