Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Tue 7 Nov
For many, the golden age of hip hop came and went in the early 1990s when the pioneering East Coast Native Tongues (A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul) eschewed the Gangsta rap of macho posturing and opted instead to emphasize messages of unity and activism through verbal skill. Around the same time a little-known LA dance crew formed into hip hop foursome The Pharcyde and injected some west coast flow into the scene, bringing together a decidedly un-gangster ethos and freaky humour in their debut album Bizarre Ride II. The LP made an unforgettable mark on 90s hip hop and tracks like sob story comedy ditty ‘Passin’ Me By’ even became a crossover hit.
Unfortunately, the group peaked spectacularly early and subsequently spent the last decade on a truly bizarre ride. Follow-up album Labcabincalifornia was an ill-fated departure from the playful and perfectly out-of-step Bizarre Ride II and third album Plain Rap, released in 2000, disappeared without a trace. The group have also suffered from continual label disputes and internal strife, as well as vocalist Fat Lip’s alleged penchant for nasal sports, which eventually led to his exit in 1997, followed by Tre Hardson a couple of years later.
Not entirely positive, then. But these setbacks aside, The Pharcyde - enduring members Imani Wilcox and Roomye ‘Booty Brown’ Robinson, at least - remain a formidable name in hip hop, not least for their energetic live performances which are likely to satisfy even the most nostalgic jazz-rap idealists.