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Pharcyde - "A New Beginning"
Contributed by: Stephy "Redael" Wasserman
Source: The Elements
Posted on: August 26, 2004 08:34 MST
Filed under: Rap


After a four year long hiatus the Pharcyde is making a new beginning once again. Since the early nineties the group has been dropping classics, and now with the release of their new album "Humboldt Beginnings", there should be no difference. The only difference today is really the amount of members in the group. As time went on and the numbers diminshed with Fatlip and Tre leaving the group, Booty Brown and Imani were left to carry on the Pharcyde legacy and name. However, the two of them have not been alone in their venture. With beats produced by Spaceboy Boogie X aka Cassanova and Booty Brown (together known as the Pitchhitters), and managed by Greg "Smooch Cat" Campbell , the group has found new ground to stand on and is planning on definitley staying around for a lot more time.  
Redael: What makes Humboldt Beginnings a new beginning for the Pharcyde?
Booty Brown: I say it's a new beginning as far as the masses. When the masses look at Humboldt Beginnings, they see it as a commercial release. People just look at it as 'the Pharcyde's back and where have you guys been for this 4 year hiatus'. But all throughout the while we've been releasing things [with Spaceboy Boogie X] in Japan and Europe.
Redael: So what was your mindset going into the project?
Imani:  Gotta do this shit man, fuck that shit, gotta do this shit. That was really my mentality.
B.B.: Yeah, that and just basically show people what I can do. I mean we had the budgets and the money to create the Bizarre Ride's and the Labcabin's, but I feel like now what I want to show people is that now I can create the same kind of quality work as far as when you look at the cd, how it's made, all the concepts of the album, that you won't look at it as less than. That you listen to it and think it's equal quality even though there was budget difference of about $200,000 in the studio. But I don't think if you listen to it, the money made the difference as far as the quality of the sound. The sound is still there.
Redael: So how has the chemistry of the Pharcyde changed from when the group was a quartet in the beginning to now, the duo of today?
Imani: The chemistry is different. Tre was more into his own thing and Fatlip was on his own mission. Me and Romye (Booty Brown)  were always kickin it. We danced together before and then we were always just hangin together. Fatlip and his girl were always connected at the hip and Tre always had a Yoko Ono with him. And me and Romye were just kickin it. So it changed that they're not around.
B.B.: Also people looked at it like Fatlip is gonna come with this type of rhyme, Tre is gonna sing the hook, Brown is gonna come straight forward, and Imani is gonna make you laugh on some other type of weird kinda crazy stuff. But now it's just me and Imani and so people are trying to grasp that same type of Bizzare Ride type of feeling, but so many things have changed and things are a lot different now. Besides the two members being gone, the "old" Pharcyde feeling isn't really there. If you look at Tre's album, it doesn't really give that old vibe and Fatlip is somewhat there, but he's still not the same.
Redael: Do you think then, if Tre and Fatlip were still here, do you think you would be doing the same type of music found on Humboldt Beginnings?
Imani: No, there probably wouldn't be a Humboldt Beginnings. It just wasn't in the cards for all of us to be together.
B.B.: I mean when we first came together as a group we said we were gonna make three albums, but as a foursome we only made it to two. Our personnel just couldn't be together to make music. The whole time we were constantly reinventing ourselves and trying to prove ourselves. Like showing we can work without Jay Swift, Jay Dee, Delicious Vinyl, and ultimately Tre and Fatlip. We just think people won't really know what to think like, 'Tre would be dope on this song, or Fatlip would be dope on this song'. But Tre and Fatlip are now so different and so are we. But the taboo part is that we still call ourselves the Pharcyde. But we didn't leave, they left. I never quit and I never will.
Redael: The song "Fallin" by Mya, how do you feel about that?
B.B.: I feel good about it. We sampled somebody and they sampled us so it's all good. But I know people are like 'oh no, they raped the classic' but now people are borrowing from other artists. But we (Hip Hop) raped disco and it was all good. Now hip hop is large and other hip hop artists borrow from other hip hop artists
Imani: Bite!! They bite, call it what it is. Everybody bites. That's biting son. I'll be biting. Hip Hop is made on biting. You take a little something of what they did, flip it on some other shit and then take it the club and say "HO!".
B.B.: Yeah, from the start of it it's always been some borrowed type of thing. I'm not the inventor, I'm just the translator.
Redael: Speaking of biting, rumour has it that the Neptunes want to remake "Passin Me By".
Imani: Of course they do, why wouldn't they? Its a classic. Just another thing to make money on. I be feelin like that song is "Happy Birthday" or somethin, it's been through so many remixes from the Drum and Bass, to Joe's "Stutter" and people are still puttin the shit out. It's funny too becuz Joe's song was even bigger than "Passin Me By". Yeah, people would hear our song and were saying we sampled Joe.
B.B.: But it's not my song. I was the one who said Joe could use the sample. I'm so glad Quincy Jones stepped in and said we could use the sample originally. It changed our careers and changed our lives, and the lives of other people around us. So if people think that by us letting Joe use the sample was wrong, then let them. But I like music, I like R&B. I like some of the stuff on the radio, I just don't like hearing it all the time.
Imani: All it did was revive us because we didn't have any music out at the time and people were like 'where do I know that song from?'. So deejays were like "fuck this" and started playing the original "Passin' Me By" again.
BB: But the difference between the Joe song and the Mya song was that Tre and Fatlip, who left the group, went out and tried to capitilize on the Pharcyde name, even though they wanted no part of us. They got together because there was all this promotion and stuff, you know just trying to make a name for themselves, strictly a money thing. It was just funny to me because the same two guys who weren't claiming Pharcyde, all of a sudden were on the song and people were saying "Pharcyde" and all of a sudden it became all good to be Pharcyde once again. I think that was where the difference was between the Joe song and the Mya song. We tried to reach out to them, but for us to get back together it will take a lot because we need to start it off right. It's not just about the money. Pharrell (of the Neptunes) said this is an opportunity of a lifetime, but we can't do it if it's not right. I mean I love money and I need it just as much as the next man, but then at the same time I can't get with them (Tre and Fatlip) and sell myself short just for the money. I mean I look on the site in the forums and people are like, "They really need to get off the ego thing and just start making that music". But it's not really an ego thing. It's just that we don't believe in that, making music just to make money. I mean Tre has now been saying he would want to make some music again with us, but if Fatlip can't do it then he can't do it. But we can't do it like that. Everyone has to be there, everyone has to wear their own hat. Because if it's not started off right we're just setting ourselves up to fall into that big ass trap again.
Redael: Now as far as the subject matter of the album goes... do you guys talk a lot about a certain herb?
Imani: Naw, not really. I was listening to the album. It's more like there's references, but it's more about real shit. Like there's pointers, some do's and don'ts. There's only like two songs where it's like "yeah gotta smoke that weed, gotta smoke that bud, gotta get high and shit". But it's more like a facade, you think we're talking about weed but it ain't that.
BB:   I would say it deals on the subject more or less to show people something like "drinking and driving makes you crash" so "smoking and this makes you do this". That's kind of like how weed is the base of the album. Like in the song "Right Before, Right After"... yeah I'm talking about smoking in the song, but I'm really talking about sex, it's just that I like to smoke before I have it and right after this is how ot makes me feel. Also on "Dedication" I'm talking about all the stuff I do with the struggles I go through just with weed involved. Like going to cop bud, or what happened to me after I smoked a joint. Just all the things that go around smoking... all of your experiences that lead back to "damn, I was smoking a joint".
Redael: So basically like it's like "The Adventures of After Smoking Weed".
B.B.: Yeah, it's just all the things that can happen because you smoked. Where it takes you, everything that happens throughout your day.
Redael: So what is the mode that weed can gets you in? What does it do for you? Does it get you more creative, or what?
Imani: No I don't smoke to be creative. I smoke so I don't go crazy and fucking choke somebody. That is exactly why I smoke weed. Cuz I'm so on some other shit if I don't smoke weed. Like sometimes the weed can barely keep me calm, I go through spurts where it don't work no more. But usually when I smoke it's like "it's not so bad and shit, it's not so bad".
B.B.: It's a fix man, it's a drug. That's all I can say. I jones for it you know what I'm saying. Sometimes when I'm at my house and I want to smoke so bad but all my bud is at the studio.  And then I'm like "damn I gotta drive like 30 minutes to go get it" and there goes the mission. Like the song "Skammin" (not on the album), and that's basically how we talk about all the stuff that we have to go through just to get the fix before you even have it. I don't think there's nothing wrong with it personally because everybody has a fix for something.
Redael: So who has the best weed, in your opinion, what area?
B.B.: Cali. Yeah, there's Amsterdam because it's legal there. But in Cali, for it not to be legal you can find so many different strands by just talking to different people.
Imani: Up north. Humboldt.
B.B.:  Yeah, we got it good in California.
Redael:  You guys joined forces with Souls of Mischief to form a group called Mighty Python. What are the updates on that?
B.B.: The Mighty Python has been an ongoing project that has been in the works for about five years now,  that we've only been able to do one single. It's kind of died out a little, but there are people still expecting it. But I just don't want to record the first twelve songs and put them out. We need to put some time into it because a lot of people will be listening to this closely. But we need to do it fast because there are no two groups that have got together to make an album. So I want to do it right, but the scheduling has just been hard. I mean they got their own thing with Hiero, Tajai's got his solo thing now. Opio comes down and records but the scheduling is hard. Right now there's just a lot of projects and hustling. We're doing it basically with no budget at all and it's hard because they're up north and we're in L.A.
Redael: So speaking of Souls of Mischief, both of your groups started off in the 90's. How do you feel now about the radio playing old skool mixes with your music on it?
Imani: That's how it is. That's the old skool. Cuz we were playing old skool when it was from the 80's. That's the same shit they were saying. You know like, "How can it be old skool? Rap isn't even twenty years old!". But that's just how it is.
B.B.: Man, I am old skool, I am old. '91 is when our project came out.
Imani: It is what it is.
Redael: How is your stage show? What's the best thing about it? What pumps up the crowd? What do you guys have the most fun doing?
Imani: You get to sweat.
B.B.: It's good to do some of the old songs because so many people still doubt it still to this day. Like if we do "Passin' Me By", they don't think that I can come with the higher voice. But it's more or less like we can still do it and we can do some new shit too.
Redael: Now you guys had an article in Valley/City Beat (Los Angeles). What went wrong about the article?
B.B.: What hurt me about the whole article was we opened up to Frank P. (the author) and he got our side of the story. Then he went and got quotes from Tre after the fact to make Tre look like he wasn't on some bullshit, saying he was working with Fatlip, so if he can work with Fatlip they can work together and  we're not hating each other, we should all get it together to make some music. It just made him look like he wasn't on some bullshit. But it wasn't like that. Then Frank went to our old manager Suave and got quotes from him saying that there was just too many egos, like we were the Lakers. Basically I just felt the article wasn't fair.
Imani: Yeah everybody had their opinions. But if you want to make it in basketball terms, Fatlip was like Rodman. Not Shaq or Kobe, he's Rodman. So if you want to deal with players doing that bullshit go ahead, but it gets played out after awhile. Then you feel like I'd rather take my chances and lose in the playoffs then to keep him around for another contract.
B.B.: I just felt it was unfair when [City Beat] asked them general questions and he got personal with us in order to validate his side. But we weren't the kings like the article claims. We were just a link in the chain.  I know they claim we influenced groups like Black Eyed Peas, but there were other groups too like A Tribe Called Quest, Fugees, Lords of the Underground, De La Soul, etc. But Puff Daddy did a lot for Hip Hop.
Imani: Yeah, you gotta like Puff Daddy. He didn't save Hip Hop single handedly but he set certain standards. People say Kanye West did it, but naw it's Puff Daddy.  I'd rather have him than Vanilla Ice or MC Hammer. I mean he's got the same style but...
B.B. Yeah just the 2005 version.
Imani: He's a real Hip Hop mothafucka, he was dancing in Doug E. Fresh videos back in the day. You gotta like Puff Daddy. Puff Daddy is cool. I like Puff Daddy.
B.B.: Yo, and that statement right there could just get  a puritan backpacker coming in here crying "Say it isn't so!" But yeah without Puff Daddy you wouldn't have the Mary J. Blige's or the Biggie's or the Craig Mack's. You just gotta look at the background. Right now looking at Kanye, he's got the full benefits of having the major label push behind it as well as making good music. So he's able to do well. So is Outkast. They're on KROQ and everything else.
Redael: Yeah, Eminem can do the same thing, the crossover.
Imani: Eminem is an exception. He's a specimen, he's special. Lightning ain't never striking like that again. Anything you say with his name in it is just gonna be something different. He's diamond.
Redael: So who would win in an arm wrestling match, Brown or Imani?
Imani: Brown would get me because he's got leverage and shit.
B.B.: Well, I don't know cuz I haven't worked out in awhile.
Redael: So what would you guys like to say to the fans who have been down with you since day one, and then also to the new ones?
Imani: The new ones are cool cuz they're new. The old ones are tight cuz they're still rollin'. Also, girls like our stuff. Yeah the girls are tight.
B.B.: Yeah, Bizarre Ride fans are more like the skaters and Labcabin fans are more of the laidback-intellectual-computer-type. Plain Rap fans are more of the "Fight the Power" type of people. This album so far has had the older hip hop heads coming back to feel the older hip hop vibe. It's not the old Pharcyde but still the older hip hop feeling is there. Yeah, the fans are cool.
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