Marc Cabrera has nothing better to do than watch a lot of movies and television, and listen to a lot of music. Luckily, he has a job that pays him to blog about local and national arts, entertainment and pop culture. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As far as time machine's go, a Pharcyde concert is right up there with the Delorean going 88 mph, or those electrical charges in "The Terminator" movies (minus the naked part).
It's not that their music is aged. It's just - if you're a longtime fan of their music and you go to watch them, you feel like you've been whipped away in a time warp to your rightful place in high school, class of 1995, singing the chorus to "Passing Me By" to your ex-girlfriend while joking with friends in the lunch line.
Or maybe that's just me.
Back to the future-present, the 'Cyde came to The Black Box Cabaret at CSU-Monterey Bay last Friday night to rip through their impressive catalogue of music. Minus two members (long gone are Fat Lip and Slim Kid Tre, the group's more recognizable MC's), the crew still did the darn thing. Booty Brown and Imani stood poised to let the world know that they can still move the crowd in 2005, more than a dozen years after they first emerged from the LA underground.
There to greet them was a throng of CSUMB students rearing for a flashback or, in some cases, an introduction (one girl asked me if these were the same guys who sang "Back in the Day." I informed her that wasn't the case, she was talking about the LA rapper Ahmad). Opening act Para La Gente serviced well enough, live band, female vocalist, conscious Chicano MC and all.
The night, however, belonged to the Pharcyde, who wasted no time in delivering the goods. They offered up their seminal single "Drop" a few minutes into their show, getting the party started. Backed by a big brother on the drums (nickname Big Sexy), a keyboardist programming tracks on his lap top, and a DJ, the music sounded refreshed and live. Imani started pop locking, and I was reminded that the group started out as hip-hop dancers before picking up the mic.
Despite the absence of their former members, the crew did not, I repeat, did not skip over any verses. This was somewhat strange to me only because you don't often see that at hip-hop shows.
Normally, when someone does a song that features an absent MC, the verse is skipped or the song is cut-off. But these guys did the entire song, starting with "Drop" and continuing through other classic songs like "Ya Momma," "Runnin," and "Mr. Officer." It worked, along with the extended musical shifts.
"Pack The Pipe," a personal favorite off their first album, "Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde," was led off by a 5-minute dance hall intro. "Passing Me By" had the distorted Jimi Hendrix sample from "If 6 was 9," but then the drummer picked it up and did the nasty while the group harmonized the hook (She Keeps on Passssing Me BYYYYYY!!!).
I swear I turned 15 again the way I sang along.
Towards the end of their set, the group appropriately raced a rendition of the single "Runnin." Imani flipped the opening to his verse to say "It's 2005," instead of the original "It's 1995." And then it hit me: Their sophomore album is now a decade old. Their debut was out in 1992.
Has time really been Passin Me By?
I looked back to the stage and saw the crowd still jumping, the MC's were still hype, and I stopped worrying about it. As long as the music sounds this dope 10 years down the line, I'll keep throwing my hands in the air.