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Artist of the Week: The Pharcyde. No, Gary Larson isn't spittin hot lines.

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To say that The Pharcyde has had a tumultuous relationship would be a bit of an understatement. While originally formed as a quartet the group has for close to a decade and a half now consisted of a duo of rappers, specifically Bootie Brown and "Uncle" Imani. Formed back in 1989 The Pharcyde is a South Central LA hip hop group consistenting, originally, of Bootie Brown, Imani, Slimkid3 and Fatlip.

The band actually started out as a collection for a dance crew with Bootie, Fatlip and Slimkid all being dancers and choreographers.

In 1992 the band their first first album. Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde was a fairly light hearted album compared to the g-funk rap currently populating the west coast hip hop scene. In many ways Bizarre could be considered the west coast version of De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising in terms of placement within it's surrounding culture. The hit track "Passin' Me By" helped push the album to gold status by 1996. That one track's strength has given it a long life span having appeared in NBA2k9 and referenced in Robin Thicke's track "Blurred Lines". Towards the end of the creation of Bizarre Ride the band hit a snag, their producer J-Swift had developed a crack addiction. This forced the band to produce one of their final tracks themselves, something they'd do for most of their followup album.

 

The bands followup album labcabincalifornia didn't receive the praise nor popularity of their debut album. Likely due to the problems with their debut album the band produced the album themselves. Interestingly the songs are not credited to the whole band when produced, instead each song was produced by individual members, occasionally with the assistance of Jay "J-Dilla" Dee. While the album doesn't quite live up to Bizarre there is one pretty cool track and story. The song "Drop" features a sample of the beasties and has a very unique music video directed by Spike Jonze, friend of Beastie Boys and director of their famous Sabotage video. In the Pharcyde music video the band album performed everything backwards, even the speaking (though that's hard to see) but then the video itself is reversed so it feels like it's moving forward but everything is moving backwards. Brief cameos of Ad-Rock and Mike D can be seen in the video. A more detailed history of the video and track can be found here on slimkid3's website.

 

Between 1997 and 99 things started to breakdown, a sign of the future for the band. Fatlip left the group and didn't return for their EP Chapter One: Testing the Waters. Plain Rap, the trio's followup LP to labcabincalifornia, showed signs of wear and tear in the band. Recieved rather mediocre Plain Rap seems to portend to the bands next crack with the album discussing failures and lamenting a bit throughout the songs.

2002 saw the departure of slimkid3. Reduced to a duo the band brought in an temporary member Spaceboy Boogie X for their fourth and likely final LP. Humbolt Beginnings was released in 2004 and it's kind of obvious how much stronger they are as a group than as a duo when it comes to creativity, though hardly bad it doesn't feel as unique as their other releases.

In 2005 Gorillaz released their album Demon Days in which Bootie Brown made arguably the largest splash any of the members of the band have made since their release of Bizarre Ride. Bootie appeared as a guest on the single and music video for the song Dirty Harry.

That same year fatlip released his album The Loneliest Punk, produced by pharcyde's first producer, J-Swift. Slimkid3, now going by Tre Hardson, also released his 2nd solo album, SLIMKID3's Cafe, a few months after that.

In 2007 a documentary about J-Swift's fight with addiction and homelessness was released. 1 More Hit's cover art is a clear reference to the music video for Pharcyde's biggest hit, Passin' Me By, a song which J-Swift produced. You can view the whole documentary here if you're curious and got the time:

In 2008~9 the band reunited for a very limited time. Like every other time they've gotten together the issues of money, name rights, and general bad blood caused a breakdown. Fatlip once confiding in Brown that he can't stand Imani's voice on stage being one example. You can read an article and interview with Brown about the breakup here. The group was even named one of the 30 worst falling outs/breakups in hip hop history by Complex Media.

 

While off and on Imani and Brown have toured as The Pharcyde, as they have control of the band name, Tre and Fatlip have performed with J-Swift as The Bizarre Ride. It seems as though the band has become setup with each half of the group being on... far sides(eh, eh!) of the widening crack in their relationship. 

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About Khalid Eternal Nighone of us since 12:52 AM on 06.15.2015

Every time I think I know what I'm doing with my life, I forget.