The Pharcyde is a hip hop group from South Central Los Angeles that consists of four members: Tre "Slimkid" Hardson, Derrick "Fatlip" Stewart, Imani Wilcox and Romye "Booty Brown" Robinson. Tre, Imani and Romye met in the LA club scene during the late '80s and performed briefly as dancers on the TV show In Living Color, while Derrick Stewart performed at other local clubs before meeting up with the others in 1990. Under the guidance of a local high school music teacher, the group learned about the recording industry and the process of making an album. In 1991, they landed a record deal with Delicious Vinyl.

In 1992, the group released their unconventional debut album, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, which was propelled to success by the hit single Passin Me By. The album went gold and their popularity earned them a spot on the second stage of lollapalooza in 1994. What I find particularly interesting about this album is how universally accepted it was by fans of different musical interests, as even the alternative crowd seemed to dig The Pharcyde. With songs like "Passin Me By, a tale of unreciprocated love, and "Officer", a humorous narration of the group's misadventures while driving with a suspended license, the lyrics appealed to a broad audience, but not in a watered down pop way. The album offered a refreshing dose of humility and humor to the hip hop scene, which at the time was becoming shamefully inundated with the 40 ounce drinking, violent, misogynistic music which would forever blight mainstream rap.

Several years passed while the group toured and recorded their second album, Labcabincalifornia, which was released in 1995. The album fared pretty well, but failed to live up to the high standard set by their debut release. The album did, however, produce one of the coolest music videos I've ever seen. For the song "Drop", the video footage of the group rapping, dancing, and walking around a city street was played backwards. But here's the thing: for the recording of the video, the group did everything backwards. They walked backwards while mouthing the lyrics backwards, so of course when the video is played in reverse it appears as it's playing normally, until strange things start to happen. A scene that stands out in particular in my mind begins with Slimkid wearing nothing but boxer shorts, walking up the sidewalk rapping, when he's suddenly assailed by a shirt and pair of pants that fly out of nowhere and seemingly dress themselves onto him. Brilliant stuff.

After the release of Labcabincalifornia, the group dropped off the face of the earth. Fat Lip left the group and recorded a solo album, Slimkid recorded a jaded and bitter love song on the Korn album "Follow the Leader", but The Pharcyde was generally idle. Finally, in 2000 the group (minus Fatlip) released "Plain Rap", a disappointing and wholly unworthy successor to the previous albums. The group later announced that Slimkid was changing his name to Phoenix and leaving the group to perform solo.

I guess this is the end.

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