OPIO-“Vulture’s Wisdom, Volume One”

I’m guilty. I’m one of the many who never heard Opio’s 2005 record, “Triangulation Station,” and so, for me, “Vulture’s Wisdom” is my introduction to this Oakland rapper’s solo career (he’s part of the Hieroglyphics collective). Capable of rapid-fire rhymes as easy as smooth, easier jams, Opio’s word choices are consistently imaginative, as he deftly jumps speeds and styles. Most of the album tells tales of dating and romance, with a street sensibility.

The album is short, too, clocking in at under 40 minutes. It’s the perfect length for keeping the album unbloated. For those who dig old Public Enemy, you’ll be happy to hear the minute-long interludes by Architect, sound collages with a beat. Sonically, the beats include remixes of old school jams from GangStarr, sound drops you’ve heard Terminator X use before, and video game beeps and blips, yet it doesn’t sound dated. Perhaps that’s due to the layers Arch uses—never does a sound appear alone. For me, the constant sound drops make this sound like a mixtape, which it kind of is. Few of the songs clock more than two-and-a-half minutes, and there are no guest shots until the bonus track, a remix with Del and Detroit’s Guilty Simpson.

If you like the West Coast laid back style but don’t appreciate the crude stupidity of gangsta rap, this is probably worth picking up. Also if you’re a fan of beats, because the production is hot. My only reservation about this record is that Opio is sometimes too slick—I can’t get a feel for what he’s about. This may be because the songs are so short, or it may be because his skillful wordplay simply moves too fast, never letting the listener sit with a rhyme before moving on to the next one. Still, in all, this release is far better than most of the cRAP that’s come out this year.

For samples, I picked the two songs that are most different. “Original Lyricist” is truly old school braggadocio, while “I Need A Money Tree” is far smoother—the closest thing on this record to a radio single.

Original Lyricist (direct link)

Some Superfly Shit (direct link)

To the People (direct link)

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