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 Elese

Maya Elese

Edit­or / Author at No Bounds
Mul­ti­lin­gual Lon­don born, bred & based print & broad­cast journ­al­ist, presenter, DJ & cul­tur­al pro­du­cer with a par­tic­u­lar love for glob­al afro-dia­spor­ic cul­tures. @mayaelese on everyth­ang.

About Maya Elese

Maya Elese
Multilingual London born, bred & based print & broadcast journalist, presenter, DJ & cultural producer with a particular love for global afro-diasporic cultures. @mayaelese on everythang.

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