In this piece, we’re taking a look back at The Pharcyde’s debut album, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde. This joint dropped on November 24, 1992, on the Delicious Vinyl and EastWest labels. It was produced by J-Swift, who was actually a former member of the group.
Now, when this album came out, gangsta rap was at its peak on the West Coast. But Bizarre Ride was something different, something refreshing. The album had a playful, light-hearted humor and a lush, jazzy production that made it stand out from the hardcore rap dominating the scene. It was like a breath of fresh air. Along with albums like To Whom It May Concern… by Freestyle Fellowship, and I Wish My Brother George Was Here by Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Bizarre Ride helped create a new alternative scene on the West Coast. Other artists, like Souls of Mischief, Hieroglyphics, The Coup, and Jurassic 5, followed in their footsteps.
The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde was released during the height of West Coast gangsta rap in the early 90s. This period was characterized by aggressive lyrics and a focus on violence and crime. In contrast, Bizarre Ride was an album that celebrated the lighter side of life. Its playful humor and jazzy production stood out from the more hardcore rap of the time. The album introduced a refreshing and new style of Hip Hop that would influence future artists and define the alternative Hip Hop genre.
One of the album’s strengths was its ability to create a unique and humorous storytelling experience. The group’s four emcees, Fatlip, Imani, Bootie Brown, and Slimkid3 were known for their comical lyrics and witty wordplay. They created a surreal and vivid world with their lyrics that was both engaging and entertaining. Their lighthearted approach to Hip Hop was a breath of fresh air that provided an alternative to the often-serious rap of the time.
The album’s eccentricity and comedic content made it stand out from other releases of the era. The album’s opening track, “Oh S***,” sets the tone with its humorous anecdotes about drunken misadventures and sexual escapades. The song is a hilarious and relatable take on the embarrassing moments we’ve all(?) experienced. The group’s storytelling abilities are on full display in “On the DL,” where they share personal stories that they want to keep private. Topics include masturbation, murder, and other taboo subjects. “Ya Mama” is another standout track that features the four rappers trading comedic insults about each other’s mothers.
Despite the album’s emphasis on humor, it also touches on more serious topics, such as racism and unrequited love. The track “Officer” deals with the issue of racial profiling and its impact on the black community. The song’s poignant lyrics highlight the experiences of being racially profiled and unfairly targeted by law enforcement. “Otha Fish” is a reflection on the group’s past and their struggles with unrequited love. The song is a melancholic take on the difficulties of navigating love and relationships. The Pharcyde’s ability to combine humor and social commentary made Bizarre Ride a unique and influential album that stood the test of time.
Arguably the absolute standout on the album is “Passin’ Me By“, which features a memorable sample from Quincy Jones’ “Summer in the City”. The song tells a relatable story of unrequited love, with each member of the group sharing their own experiences of falling for someone who doesn’t feel the same way. The catchy chorus and smooth flow of the verses made the song an instant hit, and it remains one of the most beloved Hip Hop songs of the 90s.
Another notable aspect of the album is the group’s vocal interplay. Each member of The Pharcyde has a unique voice and flow, and they take turns trading verses and harmonizing on the choruses. This dynamic creates a sense of camaraderie and fun that permeates the entire album. It’s clear that the four emcees were having a blast recording this album, and their joy is infectious.
Bizarre Ride‘s production was just as important to the album’s success as the rappers’ skills. The album’s beats were provided by former group member J-Swift, who created a lush, jazzy soundscape that perfectly complemented the group’s unique style. Swift used live instrumentation and sampling to create a textured and layered sound that was both intricate and catchy. He used samples from a variety of artists, including James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone, and Marvin Gaye, to create a sound that was both classic and modern. The album’s production was inventive and daring, and it helped to define the alternative Hip Hop sound that would become so popular in the years that followed.
Bizarre Ride was critically acclaimed upon its release, but it was a commercial disappointment. The album only reached No. 75 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and it failed to gain widespread attention outside of alternative Hip Hop circles. However, on the strength of “Passin’ Me By,” the album was eventually certified gold in sales on March 28, 1996. Despite the lack of commercial success, the album’s impact on the genre was undeniable. It helped to establish a new alternative scene on the West Coast that would influence future artists and inspire a new generation of rappers.
In conclusion: Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde is a must-listen for any fan of Hip Hop. It is a classic album that has stood the test of time and continues to be celebrated as one of the greatest Hip Hop albums ever made. The Pharcyde’s playful, lighthearted humor and J-Swift’s innovative production helped pave the way for a new wave of alternative Hip Hop on the West Coast, and its influence can still be heard in the music of today’s artists.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the genre, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde is an album that should not be missed.