Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fatlip of Tha Pharcyde, Live in Santa Cruz

Pity the fallen rapper, that tragic figure upon which cautionary tales are framed and the true nature of the entertainment industry is revealed.

Fatlip, former Pharcyde affiliate and homie of music video/movie director Spike Jonze, might certainly qualify as such a sadsack tale, but he's not about to sing a sad song.

Performing in the atrium of The Catalyst on Monday night, Fatlip delivered an appropriately short set, dipping in and out of the sparse crowd like he was a paid patron himself. The only thing to differentiate him from the rest was the mic in his hand and the staticky sound of his voice booming through the muffled PA system.

Given the venue (the atrium is usually reserved for local acts) and the big top event in the main room (Steel Pulse played to a packed crowd in the next room, spelling imminent scheduling doom) on a Monday night, no less, Fatlip could have just phoned it in and accepted his sideshow status. But he stopped just short of that.

Instead, he put his best foot forward, going through a non-stop set in front of about 30 people. At some points, he simply went through the motions. At others, he showed a quick glimpse of the showmanship that he was known for during his run with The Pharcyde.

"Live and let live and just let it be," he pronounced during one song, almost a mantra given the context of the night. "Tell it like it is from the grown ups to the kids."

All of the songs were new and unfamiliar, fast-paced and seemingly devoid of the flawed charisma he was known for early on in his career. When he started out with the Pharcyde, Fatlip seemed to separate himself from the other members of the crew with his breathy flow and self-depracating steez.

There were no signs of that on Monday. Even though it was a real impossibility, I still half-expected him to do maybe his verse from "Passing Me By," just to throw the crowd a friggin' bone. Those who were dedicated enough to shell out 14 bones deserved at least that.

Opening act Trek Life also did his best to make the most of a salty situation. Despite his enthusiasm, he couldn't get most of the crowd to stand up out of their chairs.

But if Fatlip is indeed a fallen rapper, he's not complaining about it. Later on in the night, I caught him walking down Pacific Street, all alone, just like any other regular dude. I hollared his name, but he didn't even turn his head. Perhaps he's content being a person rather than a personality.

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