Artist: OpioTitle: Triangulation StationRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: William E. Ketchum III
Solo albums from members of successful groups have varied results. While Fugees members Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean used their group affiliations to launch solo careers, Pras wasn’t as fortunate. Mos Def and Talib Kweli have shown that they’re just as deadly individually as they are together, but Q-Tip still can’t live up to his A Tribe Called Quest days. Having membership with tight-knit Hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics, Souls of Mischief’s Opio has plenty to prove. While he was always a distinctive voice amongst his co-rhymers, the Oakland native still faces the challenge of holding down an album on his own. With his solo debut Triangulation Station (Hiero Imperium), Opio doesn’t disappoint.
Triangulation Station allows to Opio create an identity for himself. An alliance with Detroit electronica artist Amp Fiddler meshes off-kilter Hip-hop with funky musicianship to create innovative, diverse production, and Opio brings conceptual gems instead of sticking to the battle-ready staples of Souls of Mischief and Hieroglyphics. “Dream…But Don’t Sleep” features Opio warning about the damages of substance abuse, complete with a trippy, under-the-influence backdrop, while “Granite Earth” inspires better days with its inspirational lyrics and dance-ready groove. Opio also describes his infatuation with female drug dealer “Roxanna” over swinging horns, dusts off naysayers and continues his grind with “Persaverence,” and uses “Soundtrack To My Thought Process” to give listeners a tour of his music-making methods.
While the disc is Opio’s crowning achievement, don’t think that it’s a one-man show. “Drivers Wanted” features all four Souls in top form, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” has Opio and Del the Funky Homosapien tag-teaming over energetic trumpets, and “The Grassy Knoll” has Opio holding his own alongside Planet Asia. Pep Love and Persia drop by to “Talk Dirty” over A-Plus’ head-nodding bass and sexy female hums, and “Confederate Burning” features Casual, Rasco, and Opio himself pumping verbal calisthenics.
While it’s not perfect (“Things Do Change” doesn’t stand up to the rest of the disc with its bland production), Triangulation Station does what a solo album from a group member should: expound on the sound that got the member to his current position, while providing enough new material to keep listeners on their toes. Whether he continues to make solo projects or sticks with crew work from now on, Opio has shown that he’s more than a Soul or Hieroglyphic.