This year, on 4/19, we were blessed to have one of the true Oakland originators join us for our celebration. Tajai boasts membership in the associated Souls Of Mischief and Hieroglyphics crews, two East Bay hip-hop groups that created the sounds of the city we know and love, the music that has been played on countless car stereos while we drove around, feeling at once right at home and a million miles away. While an “joint” by exceptionally-crafted third-eye logo “joint” by chris68ironchef was being passed around, we got to catch up with Tajai.
Blum Oakland: What do you think of the event?
Tajai: It’s awesome man. I’m so glad so many people came out to chill and medicate in a safe environment. Eat good food, enjoy good fellowship, and come together. [It’s a] beautiful Sunday afternoon.
Blum Oakland: You were just taking a puff off a joint in the shape of the Souls Of Mischief/Hieroglyphics third-eye logo. What is it about that image that has sustained for so long?
Tajai: I think our commitment to quality–and this sounds hella corporate, but I’m dead serious about music–our commitment to quality is the first and foremost. What we’re about is to stay cutting edge, stay ahead of the curve, from day one to now. The symbol represents that. It doesn’t represent a brand, it represents forward motion, opening the third eye, pre-cognition, and advancement. I think we are able to make the symbol mean that.
Blum Oakland: The Souls Of Mischief classic, “93 Til Infinity,” was playing a few minutes ago. Do you remember recording that track?
Tajai: Yeah, fresh out of high school I think we recorded it in ’92. When we made it, we were like ,’This is it.’
Blum Oakland: [On the recording], You actually introduce the track.
Blum Oakland: Do you remember what you wanted to say [with the introduction]?
Tajai: Just like, an image of where we’re from, and a lot of that is based on reality, but there’s also this other side of where we’re from that makes where we live the best place to live on earth. Like, look, we can go up to the mountains and shit, in an afternoon, look at this earth, and we can be back chilling, blazing good, everyone kicking it. We didn’t have no gun talk, we used to be on the corner chilling, probably looking like a bunch of hoodlums, but we were just rappers, like little kid rappers, 15 or 16. So I try not to stigmatize the youth that are out there today, like, Okay, they do look like the bad part of a hood movie, but they could be kids just chilling after school wanting to get some chips and juice to go and hang out at their house. That’s what we represented, that regular part of Oakland. We were just regular chill dudes.
Blum Oakland: We’re in the infinity now, 22 years later, closer to the infinity at least. Could you ever imagine something like this back then? This culture emerging into the mainstream?
Tajai: I think what’s emerging into the mainstream is reality. In Reality, cats’ grandpas have a stash, you know what I’m saying, for medicinal [purposes]. Look man, this has existed for 1000s of years, not 100s of years, but 1000s of years. It didn’t just start growing. It’s been around since the dinosaurs. The culture has always been there. Not just medicinal herb, but holistic health. Its really the honesty about it thats becoming mainstream.
Thanks to Tajai for joining Blum for an unforgettable 4/19! Tajai’s new record “Rap Hard” drops imminently on Clear Label Records. Hiero day returns to Oakland September 3rd.