The Underrated: The Pharcyde

By @TrueGodImmortal

The West Coast has brought us some classic artists and MCs, but one of my favorite groups from the coast and in general, are The Pharcyde. Hailing from LA, the group was on a different creative level and would take the artform by storm with their individuality and style. Slimkid3, Bootie Brown, Fatlip, and Imani were four out of the box MCs who initially started out dancing, but their love for hip hop was always strong. They hired a manager, Paul Stewart and recorded their first demo in 1991 before getting signed to Delicious Vinyl Records.

Working with producer J-Swift, they crafted their first album "Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde", which was a very influential albums and presented what could be considered a brand of alternative hip hop. Their single "Passin' Me By" is an all time classic and the true definition of a crossover hit, as it managed to touch rock and pop radio as well as hip hop. The album would end up going gold, garnering Pharcyde some success and notoriety, but issues with J-Swift would arise as he developed a drug addiction and the group would seemingly go into a different direction in the future.

After touring with De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, Pharcyde went to work on their second album "labcabincalifornia", with most of the production handled by Jay Dee(J-Dilla) after the group separated from J-Swift. Diamond D also contributed to the album as well on production, and while the album didn't manage to sell that great, Pharcyde has one of the best crossover hits of the 90s(another one) in "Runnin". The smooth Jay Dee beat combined with the infectious hook easily captivated audiences and landed them on crossover radio and etched a legacy for them in hip hop history. They also had a video for the song "Drop" directed by Spike Jonze, but as soon as their success started, it began to fall apart, as the group began experiencing issues amongst each other.

Fatlip left the group, and they took a 5 year hiatus before releasing a third album "Plain Rap", which made little to no noise, and then Slimkid3 left the group soon after. Down to a two man duo, Pharcyde found new members and released the Humboldt Beginnings album to minimal fanfare. The group still tours periodically, but nothing would quite compare to the first two classics and the run they had together as the original four man collective.

Though their time in the spotlight was brief, The Pharcyde carved a legacy in hip hop that still carries to this day, and I would love to hear their names mentioned more when speaking of great artists out of the west coast. It's only right.



  1. Nicely put. I agree! The Pharcyde is a very underrated group. Too bad they split up. Peace.


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