Sadly, I’ll be missing Hieroglyphics in concert at the Clubhouse in Tempe tonight. If you ask me, Hiero — which consists of Casual, Del the Funky Homosapien, Souls of Mischief, Pep Love and producer/manager Domino — is one of the most important crews to this generation of hip-hop, and not just for its music.

Long story short, Casual and Souls (with Jive) and Del (with Elektra) all had fallings out with their labels (i.e., they were dropped). By that time, the Bay area collective had enough of a following and they started their own label: Hiero Imperium. Along with crews like Living Legends, Hiero followed the DIY ethic, proving groups could choose their own path, independent of major labels. “Control is key, and as an artist, to control your masters and have ownership is important. Each artist owns their own records,” Domino told remixmag.com.

The Hiero brand — stamped by the famous three-eyed logo — has expanded, with members of Souls branching out into solo efforts. Del remains one of the most sought-after guest spots: Check Handsome Boy Modeling School and the first Gorillaz album for proof. The extended Hiero family now includes Encore, Z-Man and Goapele.

I’ve seen these guys so many times and it never gets old. You won’t see a shortage of their music on this site. So many songs to choose from. When I get really ambitious, I’m going to digitize some cassettes of freestyles I own by Hiero. For now, we’ll break you in. Enjoy the selections.

Hiero crew: Burnt (which Web site says “introduced the world to the Hiero Crew.”)

Del and Dinosaur Jr.: Missing Link (from Judgment Night soundtrack; only an emcee like Del can rock it with Dino Jr.)

Souls of Mischief: Unseen Hand (digitized from Hiero Oldies tape)

Casual (w/Del and Xzibit): Three Emcees (from Beats & Lyrics comp.; yeah, Mr. X to the Z did some hot shite before Pimp My Ride.)

Pep Love: After Dark (from Third Eye Vision)

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