REVISITING BIZARRE RYDE II THE PHARCYDE

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In today’s LA Times, I wrote a piece revisiting the 20th anniversary of Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde. Despite a few embarrassing typos, I really appreciated this opportunity to revisit what I still think is one of the most unique albums to come out of L.A. in the 1990s.1

I’m not going to reprint the thing in its entirety but if I had to highlight the one quality that made the Pharcyde so compelling back in ’92, it was this:

…its members weren’t above making themselves the object of ridicule or humiliation, displaying a sardonic but still visceral vulnerability. We take that quality for granted today (what’s jokingly called “emo-rap”), but the early 1990s were dominated by superhuman MCs, be it the stern, prophetic gaze of Ice Cube, the sneering, chilling affect of Eazy E or B-Real, or the lyrical virtuosity of the Freestyle Fellowship…What would seem like a relatively simple admission — life can be awkward — was practically revolutionary at the time. Besides New York’s Leaders of the New School (perhaps the Pharcyde’s closest counterparts), few other rappers seemed comfortable displaying anything other than a bulletproof countenance.

And seriously, this was huge in the early ’90s. Truth be told, I don’t prefer Bizarre Ride over Labcabincalifornia. The latter, especially musically, hits me more; it’s the album I’d rather take with me under any circumstance. But while it may arguably be the better album, it’s not the more influential or groundbreaking one.

Also, regarding the special boxset: it’s a very cool collector’s item, especially with both a poster and jig saw puzzle of the cover art, and as a vinyl release, it puts a few songs that were never on 7″ originally, specifically “4 Better or 4 Worse” and the “Otha Fish” remix by L.A. Jay (still butter in my book!).

Personally – and this is me being really nitpicky – I would have preferred to have the entire album released in 7″ form; that way you could have “Oh Shit” on single as well as “Officer.” Or maybe 7″ of all the single instrumentals. What the box has isn’t bad by any stretch, it just whets the appetite for more. Not sure if Dusty Groove is getting more in stock but it looks like Delicious Vinyl still has some.

  1. re: the typos…it’s one thing to confuse Harrison and Hardson but I don’t know how the f— I wrote “Fatflip” instead of “Fat Lip.” Total brain flub there and more proof that newspapers need to hire their fact-checkers back!

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