The Pharcyde will forever go down in history as one of the greatest groups in Hip-Hop, boasting a catalog that’s stood the test of time for nearly 3.5 decades. Coming into fruition in 1989, the South Central Los Angeles natives arrived on the scene with their own version of Hip-Hop, blending elements of alternative while pushing forth the importance in individuality.
To date, the timeless hits — “Passin’ Me By,” “Runnin’,” and “Drop” — continue to stay in rotation, even more so whenever the guys headline a hometown show. The current members include Fatlip, Slimkid3, and Imani, whose lives changed for the better thanks to the power of Hip-Hop.
In light of Hip-Hop’s 50th birthday, it was only right for The Source to sit down with The Pharcyde, who was celebrating by headlining their own concert at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles.
Read below as we discuss their love for Hip-Hop, if “On The DL” would be cancelled today, the iconic “Drop” video, meeting J Dilla, who they deem the King & Queen of Hip-Hop, and more!
Happy 50 years of Hip-Hop. What was the moment you guys fell in love with Hip-Hop?
Slim: Oh my gosh. Back in the day, I’d say BDP, LL Cool J. “South Bronx” was one of them songs that I took to. My home girl Adrienne from Inglewood High School, she put me up onto Hip-Hop. Because I was into the new wave stuff, listening to new wave stuff. But once I started getting into Hip-Hop and listening to BDP “South Bronx, the South-South Bronx,” then got into LL Cool J with Radio and Fat Boys, Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, the rest was history for me. I wrapped it around my soul.
Fatlip: I used to love Hip-Hop, but I really fell in love with Hip-Hop when I started writing my own rhymes. Then started performing them. Was like damn, I could really be a part of this whole culture. That was around ‘85.
Imani: in love, when I went to the Fresh Fest in Long Beach at the Convention Center. I seen all the people on stage. Before that, we were listening to KDAY. We were pop locking, all that. But when I saw it live and seem it, something struck. It was like bam! I want to be involved. I was already involved, we had our dance crews. But what they was doing, I would have to figure that out.
Slim: Remember that Big Daddy Kane show we went to?
Imani: At the Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim. De La Soul performed there too, the circle stage.
You guys are celebrating the 30th anniversary of your debut album, Bizarre Ride II To The Pharcyde. What was it about that project?
Imani: I can’t believe it. The people took onto it and they gave it legs, because we was just doing us. We recorded a moment in time. When the people…
Slim: They caught up to us really.
Imani: We got a vibe. We put a vibe on wax right there, it was something that we had to be done. The gods put us together , we were just vehicles for something. That shit is still going. you could see the people’s reaction, they faces. They bringing their kids to the show, you gotta see this shit! It’s like a traveling circus. I get juiced from just doing it. I get tired, but I don’t get worn out. I get juiced from this.
“On The DL”- would you be cancelled for this song today?
Imani: It will probably have a different meaning at this point. We’d all be gay rappers trying to keep it on the low or some shit. That’s how the song means now, but that’s not what it meant back in the day, like slang changes over the years. I like how you tried to put us on blast real fast. [laughs]
Slim: “On The DL” for us, quiet is kept. We low key my n*gga. We trying to show you, blah blah blah. Or before you get out there and embarrass yourself, this is what’s up. That’s what ”On The DL” means.
Any untold stories with J Dilla?
Fatlip: There’s a told story, but it’s not true. There was a story, it’s in the book and I’m about to set the record straight. I did not come into the studio when the “Runnin’” beat was playing and try to change the drums. That was in the book. But shout out to my man that did the Dilla Time book, it’s an incredible book. He also did another incredible Hip-Hop history book prior to that.
Dilla is the man. We met Dilla through Q-Tip. We went out to New York to work with all of our favorite producers, Q-Tip being one of them. He was busy at the time, then he j gave us a JD — that’s what we call them back then. There were all these beats, we never met him. Before we met him, we probably recorded about five or six songs, then he came out to LA. All he did was stay in the studio. Nobody even knew he had bars, he was just in the studio. Rest in peace J Dilla always. It’s incredible to be a part of his legacy, because he came became a Hip-Hop icon later on.
The “Drop” music video is so iconic. Best memory from that day?
Imani: Looking at it through the playback. You know how they have the monitor right there next, so you can see what’s going on. We were looking at that shit like “ooh, this about to fuck…! Oh shit.” Our minds were getting blown just looking at it, we was getting excited. “Let’s finish this. Let’s hurry up and do it.” That’s what I remember, looking at that shit like oh man!
Slim: It was a lot of work. We got there real early in the morning, and they had to drop water on us. Remember that? They had to drop a lot of cold water on us, that was one take. Then we had to change clothes and do the whole scene again, get more water dropped on us. So it was a process that was worth every inch of it. From learning stuff backwards and studying so hard, going through all — it takes a little pressure before you can really launch off into the cosmos. That’s what that did.
Who’s the King & Queen of Hip Hop currently?
Imani: You have to go with Drake or Kendrick, if we’re going there. I’m a fan of both of them.
They’re the biggest, and I’m a fan. That’s why I’m picking them. That’s the only reason.
Fatlip: King is a hard word. Queen is Latifah.
Slim: Queen is a hard one, there’s so many dope… There’s Lauryn Hill, there’s a lot. I don’t think I want to answer this question. It’s too much. Why would we do that and disrespect the whole…
Imani: Really if you want to go, it’s Cardi B and Drake or Kendrick. I’m just saying.
I don’t want to dig too deep and compare, but I like Cardi B. She’s funny.
Fatlip: But you know the debates when it comes to Hip-Hop…
Imani: But that king and queen title changes though. It could be weekly, monthly, yearly, whatever.
Best memory from the Source Awards?
Imani: Being there. Being large enough to be on somebody’s radar and say The Pharcyde can come up here and be here. Really be accepted and respected on the East Coast.
Fatlip: The best memory for me was when somebody threw a piece of paper. You know in school when somebody throws a piece of paper at you? I looked back and it was SWV. I liked that.
What did you do?!
Fatlip: I don’t know what I did. But they least acknowledged me in some way. They was checking for me I guess, in some way. That’s how I took it.