Selfishly, the Pharcyde’s catalog only contains their first two records, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde and Labcabincalifornia. Not to discount the other releases, but since the group’s legacy is currently marred in litigation and public fighting, I would rather remember them as I first heard them: weird, improvisational and fun.
These descriptors are especially true for their debut Bizarre Ride… an album that is mostly jazzy breaks with four talented MCs rhyming about whatever. If you listen to a song like the opener “Oh Shit,” there’s an element of freestyle that hovers over it. Even if you go to a traditional storytelling jam like “On the DL,” it’s still loose enough for you to think that they just came up with those rhymes in the booth.
Bizarre Ride… is probably best known for its pair of legendary singles “Passin me By” and “Otha Fish,” tales of love gone sour. When I first heard these songs in 1992 and ’93, respectively, I was taken aback with how honest rappers could be. This is particularly true during the early ’90s when everyone was hella locc’ed out.
Like many great golden age records, Bizarre Ride… still holds up 25 years later, which is a lot better than many of their contemporaries. When’s the last time you broke out that Questionmark Asylum album?
Ryan “Fresh” Pangilinan