A Bizarre Ride indeed.
The Pharcyde’s debut is a cartoonish collage of mischief, unabashed libido and comically high-pitched vocal delivery. Interested more in making their audience smirk than inflating their egos, Fat Lip and company playfully walk the line between funny and over-the-top obscene, never to be taken too seriously, unless they’re ridiculing your mother or hawking your girlfriend.
Sonically, J-Swift’s lively production is forward thinking, while still digging deeply into the hip-hop and jazz that came before. Piano samples and celebratory horn point towards John Coltrane and ATCQ as reference points, but those boisterously shouted group choruses make me think Black Flag might have snuck onto the tape deck during group smoke sessions. Luckily, a little weed didn’t distract from the goal, which was to gently rib sell outs and make dirty jokes.
Their most successful joke is “Officer,” a hysterical take on Public Enemy’s “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos,” transferring indignation concerning the American military and penal system to the palpable West Coast equivalent, the Department of Motor Vehicles. I know, it’s rather irreverent, but civil unrest needed to be reflected through their unified voice, even if it is in relation to parking tickets.
Bizarre Ride‘s greatest feat is its depiction of that singular viewpoint. The Pharcyde are secure enough with themselves to be goofballs, skewering the cliché that rappers are infallible supermen. They smoke too much weed, get their licenses suspended and can’t seem to pull the cutest girl in school. It’s this relatability that makes them so compelling.
The Pharcyde’s “Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde” was ranked #46 on Matt Deapo‘s Hip Hop Top 50, a ranking of 50 of the best Hip Hop albums recorded between 1978 and 2006, based on this consideration and these rules.