The Pharcyde: a time when The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air were still TV regulars, MC Hammer had yet to file for bankruptcy, and O.J. Simpson was just another ex-football star. In 1992, The Pharcyde‘s debut album, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde, shook up the hip hop world by running against the gangsta rap grain that was so popular at the time. A brand of beats quintessential to the early ’90s. A sound produced when you take overalls with the straps down, flat-top haircuts, and throw a bunch of neon colours into the mix. It’s been over twenty years since their first release, and ever since, The Pharcyde have been praised, by critics and fans alike, for their refreshing, quirky, and alternative take on the hip hop genre.
The crowd at Fortune Sound Club on Tuesday was a variety pack filled with fans old and new. Eager white youth contrasted with the cool demeanour of black men. After more than twenty years since their debut album, a diverse crowd is an expected side effect of widespread, long-lasting success. The Pharcyde is, and always will be, a unifying agent designed for everyone who lives for the groove.
The set was delayed by a few minutes, but there was no need to worry with DJ Prophet queuing up track after track of old-school beats. After a while, however, the crowd became a little restless. “Are you ready for The Phaaaaarcyyyyyyyyyyde?” DJ Prophet asked for, what seemed like the umpteenth time. Finally, Imani and Bootie Brown stepped on stage, and jumped seamlessly into “Ya Mama”. The show had begun with one of the group’s classic hits. And it wasn’t the last either, as they played fan favourites “Passin’ Me By”, “Pack the Pipe”, and “Runnin’” among others throughout the night.
To add an extra layer to the ’90s vibes flowing throughout the small club, the stage had a video projector set up behind the DJ booth. Playing behind Prophet were some of the group’s music videos from twenty years ago, which share the same zany qualities that have become associated with their style. Aside from quirky music videos filled with bright blues and neon yellows, a tasteful tribute to the deceased J-Dilla (R.I.P.) allowed the crowd to pay their respects to one of hip hop’s most influential producers. An emotional moment for the members on stage, and a display of the close friendship they shared with Jay Dee.
Although this foursome has been reduced to a duo over the years, their live performance was not missing any of the original flavour. The Pharcyde, with over twenty years of experience, have managed to maintain their youthful appeal while gaining priceless performance wisdom in the process. Their set was tight, complex, and never dull as a result. Imani’s signature squeaky vocals paired with Bootie Brown’s flawless flow is the unique sound that attracted fans in the first place. Their timelessness proven by the age variety in the crowd. The Pharcyde are influential pioneers of alternative hip hop, and seeing them in the flesh was the opposite of disappointing – it was awe-inspiring. I’ve been to the Pharcyde and back. I recommend talking to your travel agent as soon as possible.