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Opio (Souls Of Mischief) - conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Opio - Mischievous 'Til Infinity

June 2005

Few knew in the early 90's that California would be responsible for quite as many timeless underground acts. Quannum, Living Legends and Project Blowed are some of the state's highest regarded cliques, but even those collectives can't compare to the almighty Hieroglyphics.

Opio has the luxury of playing a role not only within the group, but also within a group within the group (Souls of Mischief) and, also he recently became an established solo artist through releasing "Triangulation Station" on Red Urban Records/Hiero Emporium.

MVRemix: You've no doubt been asked this question a million times before, but why the name "Opio"?

Opio: That's my real name. So it's just a given name from me and my parents. Like me and Tajai from Souls of Mischief - he's one of my best friends, but when we were younger, we were inseparable. We would be sittin', talkin', tryin' to think up rap names in our heads. I had rap names when I was younger, but when I was gonna get my deal and come out it might seem kind of corny to have another name. I used my initials; I used to be called the Original Lyricist (Opio Lindsay), but I wasn't feelin' that. So, I thought I would just roll with my shit. Me and Tajai was both kinda like we gon' use our real names.

MVRemix: Do you remember the first time you saw your name on vinyl and do you recall the feelings you had when you saw that?

Opio: Yeah, I remember it, it was a really good feeling to see my name on record and everything. It was just like "Cool," but in the same token it was something that I believed in whole-heartedly. Even when other people was like "It ain't never gonna happen, you'll never do this rap thing." I believed in it. It was almost like it should've happened. Not in a cocky way, like I thought I was better than anybody. But I put a lot of hard work in and just believed in myself. Believed I could achieve certain things. I didn't just let that overwhelm me, "Oh shit, I can't totally believe it!" I was like, "That's how it should be."

MVRemix: Tell me about "Triangulation Station."

Opio: It was a long time comin', just bein' with Souls of Mischief and Hieroglyphics and doin' those records. A lot of people would always come up to me and be like "Yo, I like your thing." They loved my style, my voice or whatever and said that "You should come with something; a solo project." It never was somethin' that I considered, I always looked at it like in order to do something solo, I had to damn near break-up from the group. That's why it took me years to even consider having a solo project. Now that we have our own record label and all that kind of stuff, I can finally get out and do it. We was a little more established and so it wasn't like I was breakin' off or breakin' away from Souls of Mischief. We just kind of expressing ourselves outside of the group format.

But, the concept behind the album, the name I got from just the concept of "triangulation" in terms of triangulating information. I looked at this like my album is almost a research project in a way. I wanted to take from different elements. Not just have a one sided album. I feel like a lot of emcees just regurgitate the status quo over and over again, sayin' things that's already heard or sayin' things that's already established as truth as far as the Hip Hop community is concerned. I wanted to dig a little deeper as far as not strictly what people say or what I read but try to take different elements from literature and actually speaking to people, askin' them "What do you think about this?" and incorporating my own life experiences - a well balanced approach on the subject matters that I talk about.

MVRemix: Sort of spawning on from that, which song has the most meaning or is well regarded upon the album?

Opio: It's hard to say in terms of what one song is the most important. But there is a song on there called "Dream... But Don't Sleep." On my album I didn't really wanna be angry or nothin' like that or seem like I'm all mad at the world, my main concept was to try to have an album that would bring joy to life rather than a buzz kill. At the same time, that track ("Dream... But Don't Sleep") deals with the pitfalls that happen when you... Personally I don't have a problem with drugs or weed or anything like that and I don't judge people. But, I've seen ill effects happen if you underestimate the power drugs can have over your life. I smoke marijuana, but I don't feel like marijuana is the same as cocaine or heroin. I've had relatives and friends where drugs took a hold of them and the shit just spiraled out of control. That's where "Dream... But Don't Sleep" came from - you can experiment with drugs, which I think is healthy in some regards - helps you open your mind. But it's not something that you should be leaning on to bring something to your life. When you rely on drugs, that's when shit starts to be a problem and it's a very fine line, there ain't no way to say where it is. It was a cautionary tale. You can dream, but don't sleep on what happens.

MVRemix: Where do you stand on the legalization of weed?

Opio: It should be legal. I live in Oakland, California which is also known as "Oaksterdam." I grew up around herb and was always taught about it. It's something that some people don't respect. They do it and just get so lazy... Everybody knows the problems with drugs or weed. I've always had it around me as a healing herb. It wasn't a crazy narcotic that you did just to get high and party. The way that it is in California, it's really just for medicinal use. I feel like there's so many things from the hemp plant - if you've got cigarettes and alcohol, I don't see how marijuana is illegal. It's puzzling to me. I think more people want it legalized than don't.

MVRemix: Do you have a favourite type?

Opio: I guess... [ponders] It's hard to say. Like I said man, I'm in Northern California - I like the kind of weed that blows your head off! Real strong, strong indica herb. Some cats prefer a sativa or something a little more mild... I enjoy all different kinds of weeds for their different highs. But mostly I'm looking for the green, crystally ooie, ooie, sticky icky shit.

MVRemix: What's currently going on with Souls of Mischief and the Hieroglyphics clique as a whole?

Opio: We just recently purchased an 8100 square foot building in Oakland and just moved all of our operations in there... consolidated. We're recording music in there, we got our offices in there, we have a warehouse where we keep all of our stuff. It was something that we just felt like we wanted to invest in ourselves and expand. We felt like we were paying to rent a studio and an office and we were still running out of space because we have so much material; t-shirts and all of our products. That was the latest movement with Hieroglyphics, we got ownership of a building now and invested in our city, Oakland.

Souls of Mischief still together, still touring. A-Plus got his solo album comin' out. We just still workin' on another Souls of Mischief album. When we come out as Souls of Mischief this time, we just want it to be right. It's nothin' that we tryin' to rush. I think with a lot of other Souls of Mischief records, we kept a lot of stuff in-house. We're still gonna do that this time, but there's some people we want to work with. So we just tryin' to find that balance.

MVRemix: What's going on with regards to the actual label? Are you signing other acts or concentrating more so on the core Hieroglyphics...

Opio: Hieroglyhpics is a label. We do look for acts like O.C. (recently signed), someone that we had a lot of respect for. Also, we cool too. It was just like a natural progression for us. Even though a lot of cats might see it as a surprise because he's from the East Coast and we're more like West Coast underground. But we've been doin' this for a long time. O.C., that's been my people for years. I'd be seein' him just walkin' down the street in Brooklyn and be like, "Yo, what's up?" It ain't really too far of a stretch. But we really wanna work with people that represent Hip Hop to the fullest. Not gimmicky stuff - it's all just based off the music really. Encore as well, he's a real talented, focused dude - his album was incredible. So we're gonna have more stuff comin', but we're not a huge label. It's not like we're gonna be signin' acts left and right.

MVRemix: Have fun with this one, a la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"

Opio: Who would I fight? I'm more of a lover than a fighter, so that ain't really my thing. [ponders] Who really annoys me? I might have to just beat up the whole cast of "The Real World." I don't know if you watch that show, but that shit is just hella irritatin' to me. Even though I watch it, it's like a car accident or some shit. I don't wanna look, but I look anyway.

MVRemix: Within your catalogue so far, which is the song you'd say you're most proud of?

Opio: [ponders] Let me see... If I had to pick one song, I guess I would pick "Oakland Black-outs" because I produced it too. It was on the "Third Eye Vision" album, had me and Del on it. The beat was just tight and it really stood the test of time as a song that a lot of people really like. I've never really been behind the boards on a song like that, that gets that kind of love. I'm on a song like "93 'Til Infinity" which gets a lot of love, but that's A-Plus on the beats. A song that I was a part of period would have to be "93 'Til Infinity." Just because that song was what helped us to even be here today.

MVRemix: Aside from promoting "Triangulation Station," have you been working on any other projects?

Opio: Yeah, I'm always busy. Just workin' on different songs. Doin' some stuff with Casual and some stuff with Pep [Love]. My focus really right now is the next Souls of Mischief album after "Triangulation Station." I'm on tour and just been real busy so far as gettin' in the lab how I want to. But we got some stuff in the works.

MVRemix: Do you have any last words?

Opio: Shit man, just make sure you check out for all of our stuff. We got the new Casual "Smash Rockwell," Del "The 11th Hour" is comin', A-Plus "My Last Good Deed," Pep Love "The Reconstruction." Just be on the look out for the new Hieroglyphics projects.

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"Even when other people was like "It ain't never gonna happen, you'll never do this rap thing." I believed in it. It was almost like it should've happened. Not in a cocky way, like I thought I was better than anybody. But I put a lot of hard work in and just believed in myself."