The Pharcyde: An Interview with the Hip-Hop Luminaries

in Culture

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Bringing together reggae, rap, hip-hop, and a little bit of ska is Cali Vibes Music Festival, held every Valentine’s Day weekend on the Downtown Long Beach Waterfront. The GoldenVoice-run soiree has cherry picked the most significant cultural phenoms of Cali Reggae and neatly packed the biggest names, a few OG’s, a headlining weed sponsor and cannabis village, as well as a hidden tattoo speakeasy into a one-stop shop for stoners everywhere. Cali Vibes is more than a music festival, it’s a living, breathing testament to everything and everyone that’s influenced the Cali Reggae scene over the past twenty years, including underground hip-hop pioneers, The Pharcyde.

Standing side-stage at the Greens Stage, I can feel the sun beating down on my neck. I’m eagerly waiting for The Pharcyde to begin their set, wondering if they’ll play my favorite song, the widely-sampled “Passin’ Me By”.

They do. And as I walk with members Imani, Tre (Slimkid3), and Fatlip towards their green room post-show, we chat about the blossoming underground rap scene of the 90’s, an era then-dominated by West Coast gangster rappers like Tupac, Dr. Dre, and fellow Cali Vibes artist, Ice Cube. 

High Times: Bizarre Ride and The Chronic came out within weeks of one another in ’92. What was that dynamic between gangster rap and underground hip-hop back then?

Imani: Gangster rap was well-established and poppin’ way before The Chronic came out. It was so predominant. It wasn’t even a competition, gangster rap was dominating the landscape. 

Tre: In LA, in general, the dynamic of hip-hop was that you were either a gangster or the artistic, creative type.

Imani: But [the underground] wasn’t bubbling big enough back then. Gangster rap was everywhere you went. …

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Author: Allie Adams / High Times

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