Walking into the corridor for the toilets and reading scribbles such as “Greatest rock venue ever”, didn’t automatically fill me with optimism that the venue could provide the same calibre of experience with 90’s hip-hop. Now, I have gained a life lesson and taken it with me, never trust a scribble you see by the toilet. Or at least, don’t make an assumption from it.
This was a spectacle for the bouncing 200 fans who were fortunate enough to secure a ticket. The Pharcyde were celebrating the 25th year anniversary of their 1992 album Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde with a re-release of the album in 2017 and a UK tour. For fans who didn’t look like they were alive at the time of the first release, The LA Alt- hip-hop group wasted no time in storming onto the stage with their notorious track ‘Oh Sh*t.’
They continued in the same vain, performing loved tracks such as ‘Passin me by’ and ‘4 better 4 worse’ and actively encouraged a mass audience participation. It appeared immediately that the rapping abilities of ‘Slimkid’, ‘Booty Brown’ and Imani Wilcox had not stagnated over time. Each song flowed as if the sound technicians were playing the pre-recorded album and the rappers were miming. It was truly phenomenal.
Not just on flow alone, other performance aspects from the dance moves to the dress wear had a nostalgic 1990’s overtone. The Pharcyde fit the image of themselves perfectly, and still perform their music with the same integrity and sting that they did back in 1992. There was an equal tongue and cheek sense of humour with the songs such as 'Ya Mama' combined with a 90’s social commentary on institutionalised racism towards the black community by the police in America.
‘Sound of the Police’ has been sampled frequently by rappers and grime artists in the past two decades, so rather than this being a lap of honour for the group, perhaps it is a recap of an issue that is still relevant and unsolved today. Secondly, relevant in giving a young British audience a vivid insight into American policing culture. Whatever the message of the song, the audience swung their arms and bopped their heads in complete investment.
The Pharcyde were accompanied by DJ Manwell, a fellow LA musician who manned the decks. Manwell introduced the group with some retro MC mixing tricks, taking Jay Z’s track ‘ni**as in Paris’ and transforming it into a classic underground hip-hop sound which could of come straight from a South Californian rap battle. The pink ribbon on the memory lane bouquet.
Support came from local mc Marx, who offered an infusion of smooth hip hop beats and evocative early 200’s American pop punk. Although Marx may have been grittier than most popular rappers around this year, his songs align perfectly with the current direction of emo-rap. He may not be inspired by the late Lil Peep and Lil Uzi Vert, but if Marx continues to replicate his music formula, he will find that there is a seat in pastures greener with his name on it.