The Pharcyde Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde

[Delicious Vinyl; 1992]

Rating: 5/5

Styles: Independent hip-hop, Underground hip-hop
Others: De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Souls of Mischief

The Pharcyde never had a chance to make it big in hip-hop. Most of the blame for their shortcomings, however, can be directly placed on them. In 1992, The Pharcyde released Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, definitely one of hip-hop's finest and most compelling albums ever to be released. Not coincidently, their future musical career plunged drastically after this release. Why? Because Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde is so great of an album that anything to follow it was doomed to pale in comparison. The Pharcyde packed their debut with a cornucopia of topics to make the album compelling to all hip-hop connoisseurs. But while some hip-hop performers turned right, The Pharcyde turned left, headed straight, came back, turned left again, and then turned right. And that is what makes this record so unbelievably astonishing.

From the intro of Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, it becomes clear that The Pharcyde stood left of center. The opening track "Oh Shit" is a comical ride of deception and trickery, encompassing a truly fascinating aspect of The Pharcyde: their comedic approach to modern day life. This approach is well crafted on tracks like "Officer," a song about police harassment; and on "Ya Mama," an inventive track about mama jokes that will leave listeners laughing loudly, even 12 years after its release. But the abundant themes of the record are not completely overshadowed by their comical stance. "4 Better or 4 Worse" is a tale of failed relationships and "Passin' Me By," the album's standout track, is a story about infatuation and the emotional toil behind love and life. Furthermore, The Pharcyde tackles several other subject matters like drug satisfaction on "Pack the Pipe," personal secrets on "On the DL," and the process of 'letting go' on "Otha Fish." Even the in-between skits are rich in creativity and commit to a focused point of view.

And the praise doesn't stop there: Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde contains fantastic production by J-Swift and The Pharcyde. Even when the album sounds unpolished at times, those particular moments make the record more accessible and give the album an almost tangible quality. Even more amazing is that these five individuals (four emcees and one producer) were fairly new to the game of hip-hop. Many great artists overshadowed hip-hop at the time, but amongst the good crop of artists grew a flower, a 'soul flower' that stood high above the rest.

Unfortunately, The Pharcyde grew up between their debut and their sophomore release, Labcabincalifornia, and ultimately faltered at the task of reproducing, improving, or even mimicking their debut. But for a brief moment, hip-hop was fun and exciting for The Pharcyde. Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde exemplifies the true passion of hip-hop with its amazing commitment and enthusiasm, two elements that have been diluted tremendously by today's hip-hop artists. But again, many old school hip-hop fans, like me, are still patiently waiting for the 'return of the b-boy.' Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde was definitely the best hip-hop album in 1992 and remains in many people's top hip-hop albums of all-time today.

1. 4 Better or 4 Worse (Interlude)
2. Oh Shit
3. It's Jigaboo Time (Skit)
4. 4 Better or 4 Worse
5. I'm That Type of Nigga
6. If I Were President (Skit)
7. Soul Flower [Remix]
8. On the D.L.
9. Pack the Pipe (Interlude)
10. Officer
11. Ya Mama
12. Passing Me By
13. Otha Fish
14. Quinton's on the Way (Skit)
15. Pack the Pipe
16. Return of the B-Boy