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During the era of California gangster rap that dominated the industry, there needed to be a shift. Rappers like Tim Dog dedicated full albums against the scene, causing much commotion. While the East Coast had a broad & diverse hip hop scene, the West Coast severely lacked it. That would soon change though, as a whole new wave of artists entered the scene to usher in a true alternative style to what made the scene so one-dimensional.
As many classics came from this, from Hieroglyphics to The Coup, The Pharcyde entered in just before anyone else. Formed in 1989, by the time they released their 1992 debut, they were ready to drop a classic. The album has a runtime of nearly an hour, but its never felt with the upbeat energy brought by all the MC’s. Its jazz instrumentation adds a more classical feel to the album, while the young energy from all the rappers capture themes of being a youth growing up.
The humor here is childish, but endearing. It takes you to a place in time that is hard to capture. Cracking jokes with your friends, losing out on women but being able to laugh it off, messing with others in unexpected ways over the phone, The Pharcyde catch it all. It takes you to a period where you were free of the overwhelming responsibilities of adulthood, and back to a simpler time where there was nothing to worry about except your immediate circle of friends.
The Pharcyde – Passin’ Me By
This is all captured without ever feeling dated. Most hip hop releases are packed with references that date them, just a nature of the culture, but magically they were able to avoid this. Unknowingly, the group crafts tales focused on youth that would prove to be timely & timeless. All the themes they speak on are topics that never changed, they are all moments that everyone at some point or another faces.
The jazz production here adds a feeling like no other, it may be similar to other East Coast albums in a sense, but somehow manages to feel spacey compared to those albums. Albums like 3 Feet High and Rising & The Low End Theory have a heavier & more rigid feel comparatively, and J-Swift gives these instrumentals that feel like they were recorded in the largest room ever allowing the group to play with all the pockets.
No matter the song, the group knows exactly what to do with it. Whether it is to sing, rap in double time, aggressively or playfully, they all play off of each other to provide just the right elements of the track. This makes for an exciting listen at every turn, never knowing exactly who will do what.
Every track feels like a jam session. Someone had a beat, and then everyone just rips through their arsenal of rhymes. Some tracks feel like there’s more weight to them than others, but it never stops the vibe of a party. Just a group of friends getting together for the night & thinking back to those simple days.