93 ’til Infinity: Souls of Mischief’s iconic hit is a defining and enduring song of an era

OPINION: The single, ‘93 ’til Infinity,’ from the Oakland, Calif., quartet represents the sound and feel of the early ’90s to perfection.

90s hip-hop, 93 til Infinity, Souls of Mischief, theGrio.com
Souls of Mischief's "93 'til Infinity" video. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

When I moved to Madison, Ala., in the summer of 1993, I was nervous, to say the least. My family moved from Frankfurt, Germany, where I’d been living for the past eight years, having attended school from first through eighth grade. So I not only moved back to the States after having lived in a foreign country for almost a decade (almost two for my father and stepmother; my sisters had literally lived there for their whole lives to that point) but I was also starting high school. In Frankfurt, I knew what I was getting into. I played sports and was smart so I wasn’t necessarily nervous about starting high school there, but to move to a place I’d never even heard of to start high school, far removed from family and friends? Yeah, I was nervous.

Those nerves proved unnecessary as I quickly made friends and settled in. A lot of that was due to the fact that I was the brother of the super popular new girl at the school. I suppose I don’t know this to be a fact, but my guess is that most of the guys I met early on were trying to get to know me so they could get to know my sister. But I made friends, and one area we all bonded over was music. It was the middle of 1993 and I remember that Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” still had our attention. I was also a huge fan of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s 1992 album “Mecca and The Soul Brother” chiefly because of Pete Rock’s production and specifically because of the song “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),” which is still, even today, my favorite song of all time, regardless of genre. 

I’m not proud of this, but despite knowing a lot of the songs from New York, I wasn’t a huge fan of most of what I heard coming out of that area (save for De La Soul’s “De La Soul is Dead” album); I was a West Coast-music head and largely that was Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and DJ Quik and anything attached to them. I also loved The Geto Boys and that universe. My cousins put me up on Luke and Miami bass, but I was all about the West. I share this to mostly illustrate that I was SUPER late to the A Tribe Called Quest party, which will be covered in a forthcoming article. I apologize. 

Anyway, my West Coast love was so sincere that anything that didn’t have that feel to me wasn’t necessarily dismissed; I just acknowledged it and moved on. And it was mostly a sound that I was attracted to, as it turns out. Because some time in 1993, while watching Rap City, I saw the video for Souls of Mischief’s single, “93 ’til Infinity” a song that I didn’t love at first, but the video (for some odd reason) stuck to my ribs, so much so that even today, 30 years later, I can vividly remember every scene in that video with pinpoint accuracy. The song itself, which was talking about the same thing everybody else was — chillin’ with the homies, chasing girls and smoking weed — had one of the absolute best beats ever, though. Producer A-Plus, sampling Billy Cobham’s “Heather,” sped up a slow, plodding bassline and marimba (had to look that one up) section, added some amazing drums and incorporated the sample’s horns and a beat that sounded literally like chilling on a weekend afternoon was born. Along with the perfect hook, “This is how we chill, from 93 ‘til” something about this song just … worked. 

And it worked so well that I remember a good friend of mine in high school from Los Angeles playing it incessantly after it dropped. He was also new to our high school so when I found out he was actually from Los Angeles, a city that shaped my hip-hop sensibilities, I was excited, only to find out he was mostly into the non-gangsta music like The Pharcyde, Del The Funky Homosapien and all of the Native Tongues sound from New York. To be fair, he introduced me to a lot of music that I probably wouldn’t have really gotten into, and he made me love “93 ’til Infinity.” He knew something that I didn’t yet, I guess. 

And he apparently knew something that everybody else did, too. When I think of songs and the sound of the ’90s, “93 ’til Infinity” is often one of if not the first song I think of. Everything about the song speaks to the version of my life (well not entirely, I was only 14 so I didn’t know much about much) in 1993 that it’s an enduring memory set to music of hip-hop. To top it off, I would wager that even for those of us who grew up with the song as part of our hip-hop language, it’s as popular now as it was then. You can’t throw a ’90s party without throwing this song somewhere in the set. 

“93 ’til Infinity,” while not a “hit” per se when released, has become an iconic representation of that time period. So much so that I honestly cannot name any other song on Souls of Mischief’s debut album, but they’re able to go on a 30-year anniversary tour to celebrate the release of their album “93 ’til Infinity” and everybody will go see it JUST to hear that song performed live. That’s legacy. 

Sometimes you create something perfect and the culture discovers it and agrees that it’s perfect and ensures its longevity. That’s what happened with Souls of Mischief and “93 ’til Infinity,” because for real, “this is how we chill from 93 ’til” couldn’t be a more accurate description of my hip-hop journey and life. 

And quite clearly, the lives of many others who came of age in the early ’90s.

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.