If this piece was about the end of the original Pharcyde’s journey as a group, it would make for a much more dramatic “Behind the Music” story about drugs, fist fights, and collective creativity cut short. Thankfully it’s not because Imani already gave an excellent and thorough near two hour interview about the group’s history where you can laugh and cry about their lives-n-times accordingly. This here though is about one of the ten, maybe five, best rap albums ever made: Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde. A kaleidoscopic sonic force of fun, sex, jokes, adolescent insecurities, and stylistic freedom from five youth out of South Central made 20 years ago and released on Nov. 24, 1992.
As a soon-to-be-dork getting the first hairs on his nut sack, Bizarre Ride was one of the first three rap albums I owned. My sister’s fresh-from-the-Bronx boyfriend (later ex-husband) had dubbed Bizarre, The Main Ingredient, and Black Sunday onto three 60-minute Maxells for me back in mid ’93. I would play those tapes on the bus to and from school, on my shitty swap meet boom-box in my room, and on trips from Van Nuys to South Central with said sister and boyfriend like a fiend hitting the pipe. It was before all the critical analysis, debates, and nostalgia took much of the fun about of being a rap fan. I was still in an age of innocence (whatever that means for a kid growing up in an inner city) and listening to four of the funniest and most agile rappers capture all the slick-exaggerated-braggadocio, dick-without-any-real-pussy personality me and my friends were growing to embody.
The Pharcyde—Imani, Bootie Brown, Fatlip, Slimkid3 and J-Swift—captured not the L.A. by the beach or on a skateboard; or the L.A. in khakis-n-Taylors claiming sets; but the L.A. on the corner after a school day talking shit, playing the cool, and about to kick a freestyle. Right as Death Row put the “You Going To Jail Now!” on rap aesthetics and popular American culture, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde was only concerned with insightful youthful outlandishness over soulful swinging production. They mocked, ignored, and birthed an energy that wasn’t the propulsive but “dying” political vitriol of Public Enemy, KRS, and Cube, or the reactionary “that’s not us” technical wizardry of the Good Life Scene. The Pharcyde pulled from the character of Daisy-era De La, and production stylings of Low End Theory Tribe, to make a more lush, free-form (yet accessible) album that is as dynamic and enjoyable today, as it was 20 years ago.
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