Fall Fest 2003

    SoCal stoner band The Pharcyde was formed when the original quartet Imani Wilcox, Bootie Brown (Romye Robinson), Slim Kid (Tre Hardson) and Fat Lip (Derrick Stewart) met at the apartment of music teacher Reggie Andrews, a place where many hip-hop hopefuls would seek guidance. Hardson, Robinson and Wilcox were working as dancers and choreographers for the television show ³In Living Color,² and Stewart was trying to make it as a rapper. There, the four met producer J-Swift, who helped them cut a demo tape. The fledging group had talent and natural chemistry and they swiftly found themselves at the center of a bidding war.

    After signing with Delicious Vinyl, the group released its first album, Bizarre Ride II in 1992. The album was remarkable in that it strove to employ more tomfoolery than tragedy and more raucousness than rage, a far cry from most of the west coast rappers of the time whose lyrics often dealt with the harsh realities of life on the streets. The Pharcyde preferred to rap about schoolyard anecdotes, the joys of marijuana and even about love. One of the big singles off of that album was ³Ya Mama,² which consisted of a series of insults traded by the band members with ever increasing amounts of enthusiasm and absurdity. The group was favorably compared to legendary hip-hop groups A Tribe Called Quest, Dream Warriors, Mos Def and The Roots.

    Not wanting to rush their creative process, which is said to consist of smoking pot and freestyling, The Pharcyde waited three years to release its second album, Labcabincalifornia. It had a smoother and jazzier sound than the debut, and The Pharcyde was compared to artists as diverse as Neil Young and Bob Marley.

    After the second album, the band began to drift apart. Slim Kid left because of creative differences. The remaining members released the EP Testing the Waters in 1999, but when 2000’s Plain Rap was released, Fat Lip had already left to pursue a solo career. However, the Pharcyde went on to release a best-of collection, Cydeways, in 2001 and have continued to tour, showing a remarkable tenacity in spite of membership instability.

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