Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II The Golden Era
Hip Hop’s favourite class clowns descended upon the Jazz Café to give the London crowd a firm reminder of the fundamental principle of hip hop– kickin it with your boys. Bizzare Ride II The Pharcyde brought funky and frivolous sounds accompanied by highly relatable and laugh out loud lyricism.
However behind this laid back jazz-infused West Coast sound lies a number of personal problems that have marred the group. I could only wonder that the weight of these personal problems surely must have affected their performance abilities. First of all is the infamous and rather brutal split which left The Pharcyde literally in two. In 2013 Bootie Brown and Imani filed and won a public lawsuit against Fatlip and Slimkid3 for breaching copyright rules by performing under the original group name ‘The Pharcyde’. Slimkid3 jokingly refers to this encounter as a ‘hijacking’. Then there is the controversy surrounding their eccentric producer J‑Swift who is responsible for merging the hip hop sound with the jazz sound to create an album which is multi-generational. J‑Swift’s rather publicised drug addiction was shown in its bare-faced.. on the 2007 documentary film ‘I More Hit’.
All of these problems left me wondering could Bizzare Ride pull this off, or would they be another rather embarrassing shadow of themselves, à la Jodeci? The 16 year old who spent her summers in Hyde Park bussin out Passin Me By was hopeful. The cold black and white sign saying Fatlip will not be performing tonight for undisclosed reasons was fueling my worst fears.
DJ Fingerfood kept the crowd well entertained with a concoction of jazz-infused hip hop anthems, mostly sticking to the repertoire of J Dilla, Pete Rock, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. No one seemed in the party mood particularly. I couldn’t tell if they had the same doubts like me or if they were simply at the Jazz Café tonight for the cool factor. Only time would tell I guess.
Bizarre Ride stormed onto the stage, with lyrics being delivered by Slimkid, J‑Swift and K‑Nat, while LA Jay was on beat duty. The two hypest moments were Ya Mama, where Bizarre Ride entertained the crowd by having a Yo Momma cussing match before kicking off the song. Then of course the moment everyone paid £21 for, to sing at the top of their lungs ‘My dear my dear my dear you do not know me but I know you very well now let me tell you’.
Bizarre Ride addressed a common theme of hip hop in their set– cultural appropriation. The crowd which was your average white Shoreditch hipsters, boppin along with Corona in hand was given a hip hop test by Bizarre Ride. Slimkid Tre asked them to cheer if they knew other hip hop legends such as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Brand Nubians, Pete Rock and Beastie Boys. They ended this segment by landing on the late producer J Dilla who got the biggest scream. For me it was a discerning issue that many of these hip hop giants yielded rather weak cheers from the crowd, it seemed odd that these people would happily pay £21 for a ticket and drinks but not know other hip hop heads in the same realm as Bizzare Ride. This segment confirmed my initial feelings that many were here purely for aesthetic reasons and for a cool story to tell to their friends over Yo sushi! Slimkid Tre said probably the most realest line in regards to cultural appropriation in the crowd ‘No matter where you’re starting from [in regards to hip hop] you’re here now, enjoy it, just remember your place’. After that hip hop schoolin’ LA Jay ran straight into arguably an area of familiarity with ‘Runnin’.
Slimkid3 aired out some of his newer solo projects such as his collaboration with DJ Nu-Mark ‘Bom Bom Fiya’, it was at this point that the crowd was dead. The song was funky and heavily calypso and reggae infused which made it a perfect dance track. The stillness of the crowd made me sympathize with Bizarre Ride. The lack of enthusiasm in the crowd conveys that hip hop audiences revere nostalgia over artist development and progression.
This show is definitely in my top 10 for live hip hop performances. First and foremost Bizzare Ride were innovative and helped break many standards and generalizations of hip hop and even black males. They were not about hyper masculine bravado but just the endearing and embarrassing narrative of daily life, which makes them so relatable and their appeal so wide. What they did on stage seems like a dying art, they were reminiscent of hip hop in its inception– a group having fun spitting over funky beats. There was no fancy lighting nor intricate dance moves, just a bunch of guys enjoying and sharing their art. After this gig one thing became clear to me, current hip hop is missing fun and a family mentality.
I also had the pleasure of interviewing Bizzare Ride II The Pharcyde backstage after the gig, so stay tuned for that.
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