Style: Underground, true hip-hop and soul
Established: In 1996, by the Hieroglyphics crew — Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Casual, Pep Love, Souls of Mischief and Domino — in Oakland, Calif.
Artists: The original Hieroglyphics members, Z-Man. “Up to now, we've had it as a mechanism to put out our own music, but now we're starting to expand to outside groups,” says partner/CEO Domino.
Essential Listening: Hieroglyphics, Third Eye Vision (1998); Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Both Sides of the Brain (2000); Various Artists, One Big Trip (2002)
Manifesto: “We want to be a home for groups that don't have a home, that are doing really good music — progressive hip-hop music,” Domino says. “It started with us, but because of the merging of all of the major labels, it's hard for people who are talented to get signed. So we feel like it's a way for us to kind of give back to the art. Control is key, and as an artist, to control your masters and have ownership is imp-ortant. Each artist owns their own records.”
A&R Philosophy: “The main focus is to put out good, different hip-hop to add on to the culture as opposed to regurgitating something else,” Domino says. “We're looking for uniqueness; I don't want to just put out something that's been done before. Hiero's motto has always been to be progressive, but, also, a lot of it has to do with what we feel people in the marketplace will like.” And when Hiero signs a group or artist — the label accepts demos — a tour is vital. “When we first did our indie label, we got out there on the road because it's an inexpensive way to promote and get in those markets,” Domino continues. “So any group that we sign, we want to put them on the road and maximize that opportunity.”
Upcoming: Hieroglyphics, Full Circle (with fall tour to support the album); Tajai, Power Movement; Casual Presents Smash Rockwell; Z-Man, Dope or Dogfood