Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Pharcyde "Labcabincalifornia" (The Source, 12/95)


"Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde was a freestyle session inside a house party, a bubbling mix of ill beats and samples, blunted interludes and endless lyrical gymnastics. The debut introduced us to four sharp-tongued MCs who injected honesty and their own brand of freaky humor into topics not usually touched upon in hip-hop: rejection, fear, even masturbation and herpes. But enormous success and its pressures can be overwhelming, especially if you're more concerned about artistic development and maturity than fame and fortune. Labcabincalifornia is much darker than the Pharcyde's first LP, detailing the strains and stresses of stardom, and the group's struggle to stay true to themselves." Check out the J Dilla-proudced "Runnin," cont'd below... (link updated).


"The first three cuts introduce the theme of the album and reveal the group's new musical direction. "Bullshit" and "Pharcyde" are about people who look to others instead of doing for self. "Groupie Therapy" is the first of many joints about female trouble. The production is more straightforward than on Bizarre Ride, with the focus on big bass and drum kicks amongst subtle layers of keyboards and vocal samples. "Runnin'" may be the best example of their new sonic style, a truly beautiful hip-hop song where the distinct elastic flow of each MC weaves over a Spanish-flavored guitar loop and sax sample. But the track that resonates deepest here is "Devil Music." The chorus - "Every time I step to the microphone / I put my soul on two-inch reels that I don't even own" - is a wake up call for every single musician. The Pharcyde's Devil takes several forms: the greedy companies that suck artists' money, the powers that be who want to squash all individuality. But although they know they've sold their souls to him, the Pharcyde are in a constant struggle against this Devil. Labcabincalifornia reflects that effort to establish creative freedom and control. Some might still think of them as the jokers of Bizarre Ride. But they've transcended that image. So while the Devil continues to breathe down their necks, the Pharcyde have used honesty and intelligence to defeat him this time around." - The Source, 12/95.