1200 50th Ave.

The Hiero complex is damn near a hip-hop museum. They have posters and memorabilia from ’93 onward on the walls, from albums, singles, tours. Hiero has had a few headquarters over the years, they were in West Oakland on Magnolia Street for a while, but a couple years back, they bought a building in East Oakland. That’s real smart, they gave back to the community. None of them dudes is extra-flashy. The Hiero story is that they were signed to majors back in the day, but they owned their own masters, so eventually they got dropped. They’ve been fully independent since the late '90s. When it comes to branding, the Hiero logo is up there with the most iconic rap designs. You know that symbol, even if you never bought a Del album or a Souls of Mischief album.

The Complex has offices for each Hiero member, a lot of them have personal studios so they can just work on projects. They’re always recording and always collaborating with each other so it’s a lot going on. Tajai runs Clear Label out of there too, they fuck with a lot of Oakland rappers, turfed-out dudes like Beeda Weeda, Shady Nate, and D-Lo who wouldn’t really be a good fit on Hieroglyphics Imperium. They also do merchandising down there, they have screen presses for hoodies and t-shirts. It’s a real intelligent operation. The building has a mural on the side that was painted by the Youth UpRising kids, Pep Love was telling me before they painted it, they went around to folks in the neighborhood and asked them what they wanted. So it has a lot of positive, conscious messages on it. [Photos 3, 4 via yameenmusic.com]

Hieroglyphics - "Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game"