Review: @ThePharcyde at @TheJazzCafe Lon­don

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.

the pharcyde 2How­ever 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’.

the pharcydeBizarre 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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Maya Rattrey

Maya Rattrey

Edit­or / Author at No Bounds
Maya is an aspir­ing writer and revolu­tion­ary whose heart and soul can be found in the Glob­al South. Hav­ing become edit­or of I Am Hip-Hop Magazine at the age of 17, she is keen on using hip hop as a ped­ago­gic­al tool for the oppressed and help­ing fel­low young people into the media industry. Cur­rently a stu­dent, men­tal health work­er and arts facil­it­at­or- Maya brings both her aca­dem­ic and street know­ledge to pro­jects pro­duced by No Bounds.

About Maya Rattrey

Maya Rattrey
Maya is an aspiring writer and revolutionary whose heart and soul can be found in the Global South. Having become editor of I Am Hip-Hop Magazine at the age of 17, she is keen on using hip hop as a pedagogical tool for the oppressed and helping fellow young people into the media industry. Currently a student, mental health worker and arts facilitator- Maya brings both her academic and street knowledge to projects produced by No Bounds.

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