In the early 1990s the four members of East Oakland’s “fantastic four” (Tajai, Phesto, Opio, and A-Plus), the Souls of Mischief, were flying high. Signed to Jive Records and working on their first studio album, they all shared a giddy excitement that something special was on the horizon. Yet, looming rap stardom didn’t stop this group of friends from being harassed by the police or needing different hiding spots across the city so they could smoke weed without fear of being thrown face-down into the back of a squad car.
Having grown up around the city’s 82nd Avenue — an area where locals drove around with powerful subwoofers that sent shock waves across the block, but also a place where carjackings, shootings, and police harassment were regular occurrences – A-Plus, an MC and also the group’s lead producer, said the Souls understood the importance of safe spaces. They therefore wanted Oaklanders to be able to press play and, for four minutes and forty-five seconds, be able to escape the pressures of a Californian city that registered a record-high 175 homicides in 1992.