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Imani (of the Pharcyde) - "The Pharcyde Rollercoaster Ride"
Contributed by: Todd E Jones aka New Jeru Poet
Source: The Elements
Posted on: October 18, 2005 01:25 MST
Filed under: Rap

imani

Can members of a hip-hop group maintain a balance of individuality and universal appeal? Some artists possess a universal appeal so strong that they lose their individuality. Other artists remain strong individualists who cannot gain universal appeal. This rare but delicate balance is one of the many beautiful elements of hip-hop. When every member of a group is an individualist, the group, as a whole, proves their inimitability. Sometimes, every human being can relate to a group that wears the moniker of �different� or �unique�. Just like the legends in the industry, groups can maintain this unique presence in the culture by their universal love for the music. One of these legendary groups, The Pharcyde proved their distinctiveness through their sound, image, content, flow, and vibe. The Pharcyde�s career has had multitude of peaks and valleys. Always on the side of mainstream hip-hop, The Pharcyde�s consistent metamorphosis surprised and excited listeners. Due to the variety of universal themes, The Pharcyde�s music still remains relatable to any type of listener. Their hip-hop rollercoaster is a ride that everyone can enjoy if they buy a ticket.

A magnificent but soft musical renaissance occurred during the 1990�s. Just as alternative / post-modern independent rock was budding, eccentricity in hip-hop experienced a parallel growth. A myriad of distinctive hip-hop artists reformed the culture�s creativity. Organized Konfusion, The Roots, Beastie Boys, Hieroglyphics, Artifacts, and Redman made priceless contributions to hip-hop culture. Without being mainstream, The Pharcyde earned the same strong respect and exposure.

Straight from California, The Pharcyde made a historical and indelible mark in hip-hop. The quartet pushed the boundaries of psychedelic hip-hop with shocking lyrics, colorful beats, and an adrenaline-filled fun seeking vibe. Some critics actually consider The Pharcyde to be the godfathers of trip-hop. Imani, Bootie Brown, Fat Lip, and Slim Kid Tre shared a musical chemistry that ignited a fire which set torched everyone�s definition of hip-hop music. They also sparked a green flame of envy within other groups. Even though each member was completely different, the members of The Pharcyde formed something larger than just the sum of their parts. Another bud in the branch of classic hip-hop bloomed. Fans watched their career as if they were watching the group on a wild ride.

The Pharcyde�s classic debut LP, �Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde� (on Delicious Vinyl) was a smoke filled sonic rollercoaster ride. The album featured songs about having sex with a friend�s mother, being fooled by transvestites, dealing with relationship troubles, getting pulled over by cops, masturbating, getting married, making crank calls, and snapping �Ya Mama� jokes. The unforgettable single, �Passing Me By� sampled Jimi Hendrix�s timeless �Are You Experienced?� The successful song maintained a hip-hop edge with a mainstream appeal. The soulful singing and humorous vulnerability added to the group�s incomparable image. The weed smoking anthem, �Pack The Pipe� was a masterpiece of stoned-out euphoria. The album�s finale, �Return Of The B-Boy� was an exceptional old school epic with sharp flows and energetic lyrics. The landmark LP crossed genres, but remained rooted in hip-hop. �Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde� launched The Pharcyde into celebrity heights and inspired unconventional behavior within countless future artists.

The maturity of �Labcabincalifornia� LP was odd but refreshing. The innovative sophomore album displayed their growth by showcasing a new sound and approaching various adult topics. While their love of smoking weed was evident, serious themes displayed the group�s growth. Topics ranged from dealing with the death, relationships, industry troubles, groupie conflicts, deterioration of friendships, urban survival, spirituality, and just getting your act together. They were the first group to employ legendary producer, Jay Dee for the production of some tracks. The single and video, �Drop� was a hip-hop masterpiece of for the true b-boy. Through the years, fans grew up along with the group. �Labcabincalifornia� was the first winding curve in their ever-changing career.

The Pharcyde began to experience internal problems that changed them forever. Fat Lip and Slim Kid Tre were constantly arguing. Both seeking solo projects, they began to travel very different paths. Fat Lip was eventually released from the group. Slim Kid Tre released a solo EP with a new name, Phoenix. The Pharcyde was reduced to a trio, which consisted of just Imani, Bootie Brown, and Slim Kid Tre. Their �Testing The Waters� EP was virtually unnoticed except for serious fans. Their third album, �Plain Rap� was a stripped down collection of tracks. The album possessed the same maturity of �Labcabincalifornia�, but lacked the much loved craziness of their debut LP. Eventually, Slim Kid Tre completely quit. �Liberation�, was his solo album released under his real name Tre Hardson. Fat Lip released the funny, �What�s Up Fat Lip?� single (with a video directed by Spike Jonze), but his solo album is still yet to be released.

From a quartet to a duo, The Pharcyde refused to throw in the towel and quit the fight for dope hip-hop. With only Imani and Bootie Brown in the group, they released the �Humboldt Beginnings� LP on their own label, Chapter One Records. Production was handled by SpaceboyboogieX, 88-Keys, and Bootie Brown. The album has the same wisdom of their recent works, but attempts to keep the smoked-out fun that fans have depended on.

In the middle of August 2005, Imani and I had an in-depth conversation about the trials and tribulations of The Pharcyde. As an emcee, Imani has come full circle. He rode the wild ride from start to finish. He is getting back on the rollercoaster to ride it again.

The Pharcyde went from being unknown, to being a celebrities, to experiencing a little less limelight, and to finally finding peace. They are still going strong with their own albums and a solid fan base. After a plethora of harsh disagreements, all 4 members appear to be mending old wounds, taking steps to act civil, and attempting to reignite their friendship. A complete Pharcyde reunion is not planned, but fans remain hopeful. Will reconciliation ever take place between Imani, Bootie Brown, Fat Lip, and Slim Kid Tre? Will all 4 members ever record an album together again? Stay tuned�.

With or without all 4 members, The Pharcyde will maintain their career, their following, their individuality, and their love of hip-hop. Throughout their career, they have experienced peaks, valleys, unexpected turns, loops, and even breakdowns. After a little maintenance, they bizarre ride continues. Unlike any other ride in the amusement park of hip-hop, the bizarre ride of The Pharcyde will thrill every kind of human being. Step right up and buy a ticket!

(Phone rings�. Imani answers)

IMANI: �Ahhh, rrrrrrahhhhh!�

T.JONES: �Yahhhhhhhhhh!�
IMANI: �Hello?�

T.JONES: �What goes on?�
IMANI: �Todd? What�s happening? I just put on my bill collector�s voice. That�s why I went, �Rahhh!� What�s going on with you? I was just about to get ready to get a Jamba Juice. They throw something in that wheat grass. What�s the word?�

T.JONES: �I�ve been listening to The Pharcyde since �Soul Flower� version recorded with The Brand New Heavies.�
IMANI: �Ah! You took it back! I heard that! That�s nice.�

T.JONES: �What�s going on with The Pharcyde now? How do you think people view the changes?�
IMANI: �A lot of people say, �What�s up with the group? Is the group still active?� We�ve changed so much, but The Pharcyde is like a name brand. You may not like every shoe that Nike puts out, but you know it is a name brand that you can trust, if you are willing to take a chance on it. That�s where we are trying to put our name to. We are a name brand. Maybe we ain�t for everybody, but people who know what time it is, know what time it is.�

T.JONES: �Every single Pharcyde album is unique. Was it the group�s intention to make every album different from the next?�
IMANI: �We do that consciously. We never wanted to repeat ourselves. If we do something, we do not want to do it again. That�s our whole mentality. People who are really down with the group do know about �The Heavy Rhyme Experience�. Those are the ones who listen to use closely. Originally, as a group, we were only going to do three records as a quartet. Imani, Bootie Brown, Fat Lip, and Slim Kid Tre only planned to do three records together. We were hanging out, making demos, smoking stress, and dealing with bullsh*t. We peeped the game in the whole hip-hop world. For us, three records would have us make our mark. We could say what we had to say with three records and give the fans a pretty good time. It wasn�t like one record this year and then one more, we�re done. We figured that we would take a couple of years to live life and then, do a record, wait a while, hang out, and then, make another record. That was our whole mentality. People come up to us and ask, �How are you dealing with this?�, and yada, yada. We ain�t tripping. I don�t know how people feel about us but it�s really not a big deal. Some people think, �We would never listen to The Pharcyde the same way if Fat Lip is not in the group. So, I�m not going to listen to them anymore. I�m not going to give them a chance.� We put ourselves in front of the listener. But, what if De La Soul did not have Posdanoos anymore? What if there was no Q-Tip on a Tribe record? Our group, The Pharcyde was kind of different.�

T.JONES: �How did The Pharcyde form?�
IMANI: �Fat Lip was originally a solo artist. Fat Lip was dope and he has been rapping longer than all of us. In our kind of group, fans have favorites. Some people may not like Fat Lip but think Tre is the best thing since sliced bread. Originally The Pharcyde was Imani, Bootie Brown, Fat Lip, and Slip Kid Tre. Fat Lip, from the very beginning, was a solo emcee who always knew he would do a solo record. We were a group before Fat Lip got in. We had another person in the group who, right before we signed our deal, told us that he didn�t want to emcee. Jammer D? He was a solo dude with a solo mentality. That�s why he�s not in the group now. When you are in a group, there�s a lot of give and take. You have to compromise. When solo, you worry about yourself. Tre was not a solo emcee but he always had side projects going on. He never was around. So, the whole make up of the group was me and Bootie Brown. Me and Bootie Brown were the foundation. Tre was my partner. Romi knew Fat Lip. I didn�t know Fat Lip. Romi introduced me to Fat Lip and I introduced Fat Lip to Tre. I introduced Tre to Romi. When people see the group from outside, looking in, they get it in their heads how they see the dynamics of the group. After you really know us, Tre and Fat Lip were truly opposites. They were different sides of the coin.�

T.JONES: �In the �Plain Rap� LP, Fat Lip was gone but Tre was involved with the recording process. On �Humboldt Beginnings� LP, Tre was absent. How different was the recording process on these two albums?�
IMANI: �It was different. The difference was that we knew who was involved in the recording process. When we were recording stuff with Tre, he would come and go. He would be gone for weeks. We felt that we were bugging him to come f*ck with us in the studio.

T.JONES: �What happened between Fat Lip and Slim Kid Tre?�
IMANI: �Fat Lip is not in the group because Tre expressed his dislike for him to me. It was a personal thing. Tre was like, �Dude, I love the group but Fat Lip is f*cking me up and I just don�t like him. It�s not that I don�t think he�s dope, I just don�t like him.� He said, �I can�t be in the group with the Fat Lip because I can�t be the artist I want to be.� Fat Lip was very negative. He was a very negative person. Tre was totally the opposite. Tre is very happy, go lucky, and very in tuned with nature. Fat Lip is more of a clown. Fat Lip has a mantra that he would just repeat. He would say, �I don�t give a fuck, I don�t give a fuck�. That was one of his major things. We grew up tough but there were things we cared about. We just grew up in different ways. You don�t want to make music if you feel like that. We didn�t kick Fat Lip out of the group but, he always did let us know that he was going to do a solo record. We were always a group and he didn�t know how a group functioned. He was on the outside, looking in, and thinking about how the group should be. We were inside, knowing how the group should be. Him and Tre would fight. I mean, they would get into fist fights. We were doing the second record (�Labcabincalifornia�) and Jay Dee thought we were crazy. Fat Lip wanted to use the Akai and Tre wanted to use the ASR. That�s how serious The Pharcyde takes it! It was just crazy. Basically, Fat Lip and Tre weren�t getting along. We came together as Imani, Bootie Brown, Fat Lip, and Slim Kid Tre. We asked ourselves, �For the group to continue, what do we have to do?� Basically, Tre gave us an ultimatum. He said, �You got to get rid of Fat Lip or get ride of me.� Tre is my partner. We came up together. Fat Lip is a cool person. He�s a dope ass emcee, but if I have to choose somebody, I�m choosing my partner. I felt that we made two records already. People loved Fat Lip. Also, Fat Lip thought he was the dopest thing since sliced bread. Perfect! �Go do your record.� He has not put out a record yet. That shows something. If Fat Lip was the dopest and the main reason why The Pharcyde was dope, why didn�t he come with something? I would say that the parties involved made the whole group dope. The collaboration and the vibe made The Pharcyde dope. No one person made The Pharcyde dope. The reason why you love Tre, is because of Imani, Bootie Brown, and Fat Lip. The reason why you love Fat Lip is because of Imani, Bootie Brown, and Slim Kid Tre. I felt that Tre pulled a fast one on us. He got us to get rid of Fat Lip and then he went solo. What, N*gga? I was really f*cked up about it for a while. I put everything into The Pharcyde. This is what I do, what I love. I was thinking, �Why is this sh*t happening?�. Then, I stopped asking, �Why?� and did what I had to do for the better of the franchise. I really wanted my partner to be around, but they chose not to be around. What do I do now? I�m an emcee! I make music! I love hip-hop! I�m a member of The Pharcyde. Do I change my name? No! This n*gga left the group! We The Pharcyde! This is who is here now and we are working with the hand that we were dealt. It went from being salty and sour to being upset and frustrating and then, to rejuvenated. Now, we are where we are supposed to be at.�

T.JONES: �The true fans have come to depend on your music.�
IMANI: �(singing). �When it seems there�s no one to trust, you can always count on The Pharcyde to bust!� That�s how we really feel, man.�

T.JONES: �How has the popularity of The Pharcyde changed?�
IMANI: �I was doing this interview one time and this guy asked me, �How do you feel that you guys don�t count anymore?� I didn�t get upset. Some people feel that if you�re not on MTV or the power station in your area, you are not doing anything. There are only like 20 slots that are available for MTV. They are for the rock, pop, R&B, or hip-hop. I don�t feel crazy that they don�t have a slot for The Pharcyde. I�ve seen so many groups come and go. Dude, I didn�t think that we would still be here in 1997! You know what I�m saying? For somebody to say that we are not relevant anymore, is nothing. I never thought we were relevant in the sense of selling records and things of that nature. As far as grade-A hip-hop with integrity, The Pharcyde was kind of like 2nd to none. We carved out our own niche in history. I don�t feel like we have to out-do ourselves. There are people who love us and we have a strong following. We�re one song or one video away from people saying, �Where did you guys come from?�, or labeling us an overnight success. Yeah, we are an overnight success that has taken us 10, 12, 13 years to happen. It�s sort of like The Black Eye Peas but not as commercial. I don�t fault them because they are doing what they have always been doing. The people crossed over to them. They didn�t do anything different except put a white girl in the group. It makes the music sound different. They didn�t really change up their whole steelo. Their whole stee is basically the same.�

T.JONES: �How difficult was it to start Chapter One Records?�
IMANI: �Well, it wasn�t really that hard at all, except for the lack of funds. We were put into a situation that was kind of like, necessity is the mother of invention.�

T.JONES: �Since Slim Kid Tre and Fat Lip left the group, the quartet became a duo. How do you handle their verses when you perform the songs live?�
IMANI: �Okay! Perfect! I�m glad you asked me that! Fat Lip stopped doing shows when he was still in the group. That was part of the reason he was released out of the group.�

T.JONES: �Don�t you make most of your money when you perform live shows?�
IMANI: �Yeah, that�s how you survive. I wouldn�t say it was a lot of money. A lot of money is relative. You definitely make a bulk of your money as an artist when you perform live.�

T.JONES: �Okay. Let�s go back to how The Pharcyde handled the live performances after Fat Lip.�
IMANI: �Fat Lip didn�t feel like doing shows. He wanted to stay home and do beats. First, we were upset. Then, we thought that it would help the group if he stayed home and did beats. We thought that we would do shows and handle it while he would do the beats. But, he wasn�t doing no beats! We were out doing shows and paying him to beats while he wasn�t doing beats. He was staying at home, getting faded, rolling around, talking about how dope he is, and sh*t like that. We already had Fat Lip covered for doing shows. This was around 1996 or 1997. Fat Lip�s verses are already embedded in everybody�s head. I usually do the vocals. I do my verses, Tre�s verses, and Fat Lip�s verses. From 1997 to the present, I never, ever had someone come up to me and say, �Where�s Fat Lip?�. Even though Fat Lip was not here, the audience never heard a step missing on the show or any of the songs. Sometimes, they don�t even know that he�s not on stage unless I talk about it. I�ve been doing it for so long.�

T.JONES: �How did you handle things when Slim Kid Tre left?�
IMANI: �Tre stopped doing shows with us in 1999. That was six years ago. We do well. We�re cool.�

T.JONES: �For �Labcabincalifornia�, you were one of the first groups who used Jay Dee for some of the production. Jay Dee is now a producer who is on a somewhat mythical level. He has produced for Slum Village, Common, The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, and more. How did this connection happen? What was Jay Dee like?�
IMANI: �He�s become larger than life. He�s dope. It�s so funny, because when I heard his beats, I knew that was going to happen. Q-Tip hooked us up. We went to New York to work with Diamond D and a couple of other cats. We ended up working with Buckwild and Showbiz. We were just hanging out and living the hip-hop life. It was incredible. It was like we got accepted into the fraternity, chilling at Uncle Diamond�s house for a barbeque and Pharoahe Monch comes over along with all of these old school cats who we only knew their names through records. They were telling us that they loved The Pharcyde. I just soaked it up. It was dope. I was loving that sh*t. Anyway, we were in the studio with Q-Tip, free styling on the mic with Consequence. We were living up the hip-hop sh*t. The beats just were not sounding like the beats we wanted to get from Q-Tip. We wanted some of that �One Love� kind of sh*t. You know what I mean? The beats sounded cool, but I was listening to them and thought they sounded a little like Fat Lip�s beats or Bootie Brown�s beats. The beats were cool, but we tried to keep it real as real could be. It�s hard to keep it real all the time. If I was going to be f*cking with Q-Tip, it is easy to say, �Whatever you give me, I�m a take it.� N*gga, we don�t roll like that. The cool part about it is that Q-Tip is our folks. He�s cool people. He didn�t have to hear us say anything. He could just feel the vibe. He knew where we were at. He was like, �Man, I�m not even gonna front on y�all. I got this tape from this cat I met at Lollapalooza. I think you need to f*ck with him�. That was straight up from Q-Tip. There was no way he had to plug us into Jay Dee. Jay Dee was going to be large regardless. Q-Tip hadn�t actually worked with him yet. He was just talking to him. Q-Tip played us the beats and the snippets were like only 10 seconds long. I was like creaming on myself. Every beat I heard, I was like, �Doooooooaahhhhh! Play that back! Oooooooh!� I was goo goo-ga ga. We needed to hook up and meet that homeboy. Now mind you, everybody else was flabbergasted by J-Swift at the time. The record label, the fans, and the people who were f*cking with us thought J-Swift was God. They were like, �Who the f*ck is Jay Dee?� I put this on my momma! Motherf*ckers don�t know sh*t in the music business! I felt like we were on some next sh*t. I knew that once the world heard Jay Dee, that was going to happen. I saw him at Rock The Bells when Tribe Called Quest was doing a show with Madlib. The first time I saw him, I heard he got sick. We saw each other in passing. The next time I saw him face to face, I was like, �Dog! Do you remember in the studio? I told you that you were going to get mega-large and act like some super producer and forget about n*ggas!� When I saw him, I told him that. �You�ll become a mega producer. When you see me again, you�ll act hella big and front on me like that.� I couldn�t get in touch with the n*gga! He wasn�t acting like that. He was just hella busy. It was all love.�

T.JONES: �Who are some producers who you would like to work with?�
IMANI: �I would like to work with Dr. Dre and DJ Quik. They are perfectionists and their beats sound so professional.�

T.JONES: �Who are some artists who you would like to work with?�
IMANI: �I would like to work with The Platinum Pied Pipers. Triple P! That�s the hottest record I bought recently. I don�t know them cats.�

T.JONES: �What was it like when you first went to New York?�
IMANI: �I�ve been blessed, man. When we went to New York, we didn�t have any money. We were out there chilling. Buckshot came through with Steele from Cocoa Brovaz. They laced up a track.�

T.JONES: �What really happened with Delicious Vinyl?�
IMANI: �Dude! This is funny! We were trying to get off of our label. People got this idea in their mind that we got dropped, but we hated Delicious Vinyl! They were f*cking ignorant! We recorded all these records! We were in New York and recorded with Pharoahe Monch, Buckshot, Steele, Q-Tip, and all these people. We never turned it in! We didn�t even tell the record label that we recorded the sh*t.�

T.JONES: �Where are the masters for those unreleased recordings with Pharoahe Monch, Buckshot, Steele, and Q-Tip?�
IMANI: �Hey, I got them on my I-Pod right now. I�m waiting for a good opportunity to release them. It was a crazy situation. When we were out there recording, Delicious was going between record labels and distribution deals. They lost their distribution and ran out of money while we were in New York. We had all of these people just waiting to come to the studio and do sh*t with us, everybody you can think of! Delicious pulled the plug on us. That was right after �Labcabincalifornia�. We went to New York to work on the third album and that�s when the sh*t started to get crazy.�

T.JONES: �Since every album by The Pharcyde is different, how did people respond to each album?�
IMANI: �I�m a tell you exactly from our perspective. The first album came out and people thought we were wack. �Who are these dudes? They�re wack! I�m not feeling this �Ya Mama� song. Or, they thought, that �Ya Mama� was different. There was no in between. Some people thought it was different, funny, and liked us. Or, they said, �That song is wack! I hate them dudes!� There was no middle ground. That was November 1992. In May 1993, the world changed. That was when we released �Passing Me By� with the video. It was like we were a whole different group. We were like a totally other group who never put out �Ya Mama�. With �Passing Me By�, many people never heard a song like that or never saw a video like that. We were groundbreaking. They thought we were the dopest thing since sliced bread. After �Passing Me By� came out, it all changed. We met up with everybody and became official. Then, people began to see the live show. Then, they were like, �They are leaders of the new school of what is going on right now.� Then, the second record comes out, �Labcabincalifornia�, and we do Lollapalooza two years in a row. The record is not moving a whole lot of units, but we are gaining a whole lot of fans. People were feeling �Running� more than �Ya Mama� but it wasn�t like �Passing Me By�. Then, the �Drop� video came out and it was just like when �Passing Me By� came out. Basically, it all happened like this. We came out with �Ya Mama� and they said we were wack. We came out with �Passing Me By� and they said we were dope. We came out with �Running� and they said it was wack because it didn�t sound like �Bizarre Ride�. Then, they saw the video for �Drop� and went back to the �Labcabincalifornia� CD and put it in. �Drop� made people think, �Let me light one up and listen to that sh*t again�. Then, it all made sense.�

T.JONES: �Where were you during the September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it?�
IMANI: �I know right where I was. September 9th, I was in Boston. On September 10th, I was just getting home from being on airplane in Boston. One of those airplanes was coming out of Boston too! I was tripping! Damn, I was tripping! I cut my hair off! I had long ass locks! I cut off all my locks. I was bugging. When I turned on the TV and saw that sh*t, I never saw anything like it.�

T.JONES: �Word association. I am going to say the name of a group, artist or person, and you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said �Public Enemy�, you may say, �Revolution� or �Fight The Power�. If I said �Flava Flav�, you may say �Clock�, �Crack�, or �The Surreal Life�. Okay?�
IMANI: �Okay, classic!�

T.JONES: �Pharoahe Monch.�
IMANI: �Incredible.�

T.JONES: �Jay Dee.�
IMANI: �Dope.�

T.JONES: �Wu-Tang Clan.�
IMANI: �Classic.�

T.JONES: �Phife Dawg.�
IMANI: �Five feet.�

T.JONES: �Jamiroquai.�
IMANI: �Woooo! Is that a word? I love Jamiroqaui. We got a chance to do a show together in London. It was ridiculous.�

T.JONES: �Common.�
IMANI: �Rasheed. The reason I said that was because I knew the dude for so long. We did a show in The China Club. He made is way up there and made sure he let us knew that he loved us and wanted to rhyme with us. This was before �I Used To Love H.E.R.� days. He used to come out to L.A. to The Pharcyde manor. He�s a cool cat. I have to call him by his government name.�

T.JONES: �Fat Lip.�
IMANI: �The West Coast Ol' Dirty Bastard.�

T.JONES: �Eminem.�
IMANI: �Rich.�

T.JONES: �Slim Kid Tre.�
IMANI: �(laughs). �When the planet and the stars and the moon collapse!� I would say Saturn Seven.�

T.JONES: �Curtis Mayfield.�
IMANI: �Original neo soul.�

T.JONES: �George Bush.�
IMANI: �Meet The F*ckers.�

T.JONES: �How have you evolved as an emcee?�
IMANI: �I went from being a person who plays a role on a team to being the dude who can walk into the studio and attack the track like a pack of wild timber wolves.�

T.JONES: �When writing lyrics, do you have the lyrics pre-written or a set theme, or do you hear the music first, and then, write to the beat?�
IMANI: �Yup! All of that! If I listen to a beat and there�s something moving in my spine, I write to that. If I have a topic or subject that I need to get off my chest, I write like that. If I hear a word on soft radio, it may spark a thought. There�s no method to my madness. My style is like water. I remain formless.�

T.JONES: �The new album by The Pharcyde, �Humboldt Beginnings� was just released. Tell us about the album.�
IMANI: ��Humboldt Beginnings� is a play off of humble beginnings and it is also a play off of� (Pauses).�

T.JONES: �Humboldt county.�
IMANI: �Exactly! I wasn�t going to say it. I wanted to let you say it. You�re cool, man. Some people don�t actually know.�

T.JONES: �For those who do not know, can you explain the title of �Labcabincalifornia�?�
IMANI: �The whole story behind that title is about the house that we lived in. We used to live in a little place in Los Feliz, California. Fat Lip tried to take credit for naming the place The Lab Cabin! I found the house that we moved in to. It looked like a laboratory. It had skylights. It was also like a cabin because it�s all wood. Okay, maybe I didn�t dub it �The Lab Cabin�, but I was the one who first said that it looked like a laboratory inside of a cabin. I�ll give Fat Lip credit for naming it The Lab Cabin, but I said it is a laboratory and a cabin.�

T.JONES: �What is your favorite Pharcyde song? Album?�
IMANI: �I don�t have a favorite. I have an 11 year old son and an 8 year old son. They each serve different purposes. If you asked me which one was my favorite, I would say that I love them both.�

T.JONES: �Are you still cool with Tre Hardson now? Will you ever do music with him again?�
IMANI: �Me and Tre are cool. That�s my boy, man. We had some disagreements, where we didn�t see eye to eye, but at the end of the day, he�s my partner. I went to see him a couple of times. I saw a couple of his shows. I feel that he�s on a mission. When the time is right, we�ll get down again, but I�m not forcing the issue. For us to do music again, we have to be friends again first. To do music, you have to be open with each other and trust each other. The way it is now, I don�t really know him in that light. I�m on the outside, looking in, right now. I�m taking steps to be cool with the dude.�

T.JONES: �What about Fat Lip? Will you make music with Fat Lip again?�
IMANI: �I saw Fat Lip at the Method Man and B-Real show, the other night. The last time I saw him, at The House Of Blues, we had a fight in the exact same spot. That was years ago. This time, I saw him in The House Of Blues, we were talking and laughing about the last time we were tripping in the same spot. Right now, we are taking steps. We�re grown men. We are adults now. That�s where we are right now.�

T.JONES: �SpaceboyboogieX produces a majority of the �Humboldt Beginnings� LP. Where did you meet him?�
IMANI: �I wasn�t trying to make a record or make a solo record. I never was like, �I can�t wait to do my solo record�. I was just making songs and chilling with Brown. We were just staying open and respectful. God sends people your way. I was just making music and I needed someone to do beats. At the time, I needed to make some ends meet. I was getting my hustle on to have a little money. I don�t want to say what I did. I sparked a leaf with the dude. At the time, Spaceboy owned a record store and Romi used to buy records from him. Romi was trying to get his sound together. Romi wasn�t really comfortable with where he wanted to be with his beat making. Romi told me that I should get with SpaceboyboogieX. It�s funny because SpaceboyboogieX is light skinned. He�s a Mexican. He�s in the video. Some people ask, �Who is that guy with the jerry curl in the video?� He ain�t light skinned! He�s Mexican! Some people just have that kind of hair. We got together, he gave me a beat CD, and I recorded some stuff. One or two songs turned into 20 songs.�

T.JONES: �You released an album exclusively in Japan?�
IMANI: �I released a record called, �Sagittarius 71 Volume 1�. It was released exclusively in Japan. I don�t like to put a hype on stuff because hype can sometimes kill things before you take off. It�s cool. If people want to find it, they can research it. It�s on Props Recordings. It�s basically my own situation. Everything is hand in hand. We look at it like, we never know. We�re always learning. When you talk to dudes like Dr. Dre, he talks about how he is still learning!�

T.JONES: �What was the best advice you have received?�
IMANI: �We were talking to Ice-T, one time. He was telling us that we can go very far if we stay humble. That just stuck in our minds. We are The Pharcyde and we started from scratch. We don�t want to do a record that you are supposed to think is dope just because we are The Pharcyde. We want to make records and have people say, �Whooo! These cats are making some heaters!� They will think that even though we aren�t on the video shows, there is something greater than us that is not letting the people know about what is happening.�

T.JONES: �Where�s Quinton?�
IMANI: �Quinton�s on his way. Quinton�s like 4:20. Is it ever 4:20? Is it ever not 4:20?�

T.JONES: �Quinton released a single?�
IMANI: �See, we all make mistakes. That was one of those J-Swift mistakes. He had it in his mind that he wanted to do this Quinton thing.�

T.JONES: �What�s going on with J-Swift?�
IMANI: �You know The Jazzephatnasties? His sister is in that group. The main girl, Mercedes from The Jazzephatnasties, is J-Swift�s sister. Anyway, he had an opportunity to put them out. Why wouldn�t he? J-Swift is world renowned producer. Why would his sister go to Philadelphia and hook up with The Roots? Wouldn�t you think that there is something crazy with J-Swift?�

T.JONES: �What are some major misconceptions people have of The Pharcyde?�
IMANI: �People always look at us like we�re the bad guys. They don�t know the story. All they see is Imani and Bootie Brown. They think, �What did they do to Tre? Tre�s such a cool dude. He bowed to me and didn�t have no shoes on. What did Imani and Bootie Brown do to him? Imani and Bootie Brown smoke weed. Them n*ggas must have did something to Tre. I talked to Tre and he�s so level-headed.� Yeah, but Tre is from 56th and Central. If you know about L.A., you know that it�s the middle of the hood, the middle of the ghetto, where the n*ggerest of the n*ggas come from!�

T.JONES: �Marijuana has always been a major element in the music of The Pharcyde. Do you have a favorite way to smoke?�
IMANI: �When I smoke weed, I don�t smoke weed to get creative. I smoke weed so I don�t go crazy and kill somebody. I smoke to keep real mellow because I�m a real hyperactive dude. When I don�t smoke weed, people say, �Damn! What�s the matter with you?� When I do smoke weed, people say I smoke too much, or that I should find a happy medium. I like to smoke blunts, bongs, joints, vaporizing! I can�t roll around in my car, smoking on a vaporizer.�

T.JONES: �You have been all around the world. Where is the world�s best weed?�
IMANI: �The best herb? I would have to say the country of California. (Laughs). Amsterdam is dope because they have laws that you can legally grow it and nobody can f*ck with you. L.A. has the bomb!�

T.JONES: �What unknown advice would you give to someone who is coming up in the music industry?�
IMANI: �They do know it but they don�t adhere to it. Just be yourself and do you. Everybody else is doing what they are doing and getting paid off of it. Just know that you are a dope emcee. Not even! Just be an accomplished emcee who can flip any style you need to do. Don�t flip some style because that is what they want. That�s not what it is about. Freak your own. People jump on that. They get geeked off of that when you do Jay-Z. Would The Pharcyde do Mobb Deep on their album? Just do you, and do whatever you do. Everybody�s different.�

T.JONES: �Are you going to release another solo album?�
IMANI: �Yup! I�m working on it right now. I�ve had time to work. Most of it is produced by SpaceboyboogieX. I have some beats from Bootie Brown. I have some from my boy, who I�m doing this Internet radio station with. Antiradio.org. I don�t want to put out something just because I have to put out a record. I want to put out something that tells people that I�m that dude who came from Compton! This is that dude who went to school in Gardenia. That�s that dude who was in The Pharcyde and went around the world. I�m gonna be me. I want it to represent where I come from, what I believe in, and where I�m going.�

T.JONES: �Any final words?�
IMANI: �The Pharcyde have been doing it for so long and we are still doing it. Things have changed so much, but we are still doing it and having fun. When we first came out, we were like 18 or 19 years old. I�m now 33 and going to be 34. My birthday is in December. I grew up with this sh*t. I have a son who knows nothing but hip-hop. He walks around the house talking about, �I�m a hustler! I�m a hustler!� He�s kicking Nas lyrics and sh*t. �Page in my rhyme book!� Hip-hop is dope! People ask me about the state of hip-hop and they want me to say that it�s f*cked up. N*gga please! Hip-hop is incredible! It feeds so many people and gives people jobs. Some people would be dead or in jail if it weren�t for hip-hop. They are writing and living. I love hip-hop! We are old enough to remember when sh*t was wack but things changed and sh*t was dope. We didn�t panic. We have Common, Triple P, Madlib, Jay Dee, Madvillian, Wu-Tang. Hip-hop is dope! I love hip-hop!�

THANK YOU IMANI!
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