Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Moment of Truth: The 16 Best Moments at Hiero Day 2015

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 1:24 PM

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli
Moment of Truth is SF Weekly's hip-hop column by Adrian Spinelli appearing every Tuesday on the All Shook Down blog.

Spirits (and temperatures) were high in West Oakland yesterday. The 4th annual Hiero Day festival was the most breathable and best-sounding one yet, with an imaginative lineup that pulled talent largely from underground hip-hop's late-'90s Golden Age, but also showed an awareness of some of today's finer hip-hop. 


When Hiero's Del the Funkee Homosapien cheerfully rolled in on his skateboard, I asked him if he had any surprises up his sleeve for the day. He replied, "Well, I'm here, so there's one!"

He barely made the fest before taking off for a tour in Brazil the next morning at 6 a.m. I'm glad he made it, becasue the day wouldn't have been the same without every single member of Hiero on the scene, because it was a celebration of the Hieroglyphics sound that's defined the Bay for decades and shaped a culture that's still prevalent today. The crew, known by some for its Third Eye Vision logo, which still gets printed on fresh snapbacks and T-shirts just about everywhere in the bay, held the area's most revered hip-hop festival of the year, complete with a solid lineup of acts from across the country. These are the moments that defined the day for us:

Best Drum Machine: Dibiase

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

I mean... it says "Dibiase" on it in the Star Wars font?! This battle was over before it even started. L.A.'s Dibiase now calls Sacramento home, so here's hoping we will see more of his beat conduction in the bay. 

Soul of The Day Award: Martin Luther

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

Damn — this guy can sing. Luther had a full band set-up with Oaklan'd Kev Choice on the keys to his right and singer Crystal to his left. There were times when Luther hopped behind the keys for a bit, or grabbed a sick Gibson with a Jumpman Jordan logo on it, but dude really shined by bringing the soul with silky vocals throughout the set. Respect. 

Hardest Working Man at Hiero Day: Kev Choice

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

Felt like every time I looked up at the Infinity Stage, Kev Choice was on the keys. First it was for Martin Luther's set (where he even grabbed the mic for a couple jams), then he stayed on to back singer Res. I wandered around for a couple hours and when I came back to the stage, there was Choice playing alongside Zion I. Put this dude on your radar and go see him tonight at Leo's with The Seshen

Best Fleetwood Mac Cover: Res

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

I was walking away from Infinity Stage and then had to double-back when I heard Res covering my favorite Fleetwood Mac song, "Dreams." Her vocals were flat-out beautiful and I was glad I caught a moment of her set. "That was by Fleetwood Mac," the Philly singer announced to the hip-hop-leaning crowd when it ended. I chuckled.  

Best Bars: PhatKat & Guilty Simpson

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

These guys were clean AF on the mic. A distinct delivery & style that sets them apart and makes you hang on every word. Set alongside jazzy beats with a slow-tempo bass, Simpson & PhatKat are yet another pair of tasteful signees for Peanut Butter Wolf's Stones Throw label and quite possibly the best rappers at the festival. 

Most Elaborate Set-Up: Sempervirens

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

Opio and Free The Robots' set-up was insane. I mean... Opio even had a sampler around his neck?!

Best Raiders Shirt: This Guy

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

This guy, who upon further conversation, happens to have season tickets in the same section as me at the Coliseum (no joke.) On the real tho, here's hoping the city of Oakland, the Coliseum commission, and Owner Mark Davis can work out a plan to keep the Raiders in Oakland for good. A big part of the city's spirit will vanish along with the team if they move. #RaiderNation

Best Reunion: Cali Agents

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

You might've not seen him, but 17-year-old me was there yesterday; bouncing and singing along with every word to cuts off of Rasco and Planet Asia's classic How The West Was One. I waited to hear "Never Forget." Got it. Waited for "The Anthem." They opened with it. Rasco even dropped his solo gem "The Unassisted," from DJ Babu's Beat Junkies Vol. 1 album. This set was everything I wanted it to be and it was a pleasure to hear classic cuts from one of hip-hops moist poignant, yet largely unheralded albums. 

Most Ironic Shirt: Aceyalone "Fishing is DOPE"

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

Aceyalone might've been the only dude there thinking about fishing, but he still brought the heat. He dropped "Mic Check," "The Guidelines, " cuts off of Magnificent City and even "B-Boy Real McCoy" from his and Abstract Rude's Who Framed the A-Team? album. "Yeeeeeeeeesss!"

Best Purveyor of the Vibe: This Dude's Sign

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

Attaboy. This is the embodiment of Hiero Day. 

Best Set to Catch One Song Of: NxWorries

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

I got incredibly lucky here. I hurried away from Cali Agents' set at Imperium Stage to freshen up my drink before coming back for Aceyalone and when I was walking back, realized that singer Anderson.Paak and producer Knxwledge's NxWorries project was still on the Third Eye Stage. I rushed in to try to catch a song and to my pleasant surprise, they were just about to perform "Suede," they're only released single as a group thus far and it was awesome. The Stones Throw group raised eyebrows with the track and the crowd was feelin' it fasho. Paak's emotive hook over Knxwledge's production has crazy potential. Recognize. 

Best "What're Those?!" Moment: Soulja Boards

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

I don't get these things, especially not in the middle of a crowd. These dudes rolled in and wheeled their way through a narrow walkway. These are for comedic value, right? At least Del had the decency to get off his skateboard when he arrived. Really looking forward to when these boards are used as transportation devices and not some flashy "look at me" accessory. (Props to dude's socks tho)

Silkiest Shit of the Day: Adrian Younge

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

Look... this is my favorite producer. I can barely hold it together when he's dropping records (or when I try to put into words what it is that I love about Adrian Younge). It's his ability to extract the essence and soul of hip-hop while opening up the elements that go into beat construction. It's how he makes new sounds feel like they've been around for decades. It's how he never strays from the analog maxim. It's how there's an attention to detail and stylistic inspiration behind everything you see or hear when he's behind the decks and his short set of 45's was solid gold. (And crazy shouts to that Louis Vitton 45's case!)

Most Inspiring Frontman: Boots Riley of The Coup

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

I hadn't seen The Coup play in a minute, but it was a pleasure to see what a fucking rock star Boots Riley still is. A full band and Boots losing himself in the music was just flat out inspiring. "Fat Cats" was one of my favorite cuts when I was a kid and now that I'm old enough to appreciate the foresight of The Coup in questioning the motivation of the political machine that still lingers over all of our heads, I love it even more. 

Biggest Spliff: Luniz

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

I mean... look at that thing! Can I get 5 on that? 

Only Way To End The Day: Hieroglyphics

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

I've come to really enjoy the same moment every year. When all of Hieroglyphics crew steps to Infinity Stage to drop all of their classic cuts. From Opio and Del trading shots on "Oakland Blackouts" to Pep Love's bars on "You Never Knew" where he's joined by A-Plus, Tajai, Phesto Opio and Del, to Casual leading the crew through the set with Souls of Mischief dropping "93 'til Infinity." They play the same bangers every year, but it's exactly what every Bay Area hip-hop head wants to hear. Cheers to Hiero Day 2015 and here's lookin' at 2016!

A parting clip of Luniz playing at sunset on Imperium stage, courtesy of Kev Choice's Instagram:




  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

About The Author

Adrian Spinelli

Adrian Spinelli

Bio:
Hip hop and sandwiches.

Comments


Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"