By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
The Pharcyde go down as one of the most iconic groups to grace hip-hop, period. The Los Angeles-bred act is best known for timeless hits such as “Passin Me By” and “Runnin’,” along with standout projects Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde and Labcabincalifornia.
Now, group members Fatlip and Slimkid3 are keeping the group’s name alive by touring, deejaying, and shutting down stages all across the States. Most recently, the two performed at Los Angeles’ Mid City Arts & Music Fest — marking the first time they have shared the stage since their departure from the legendary rap crew.
AllHipHop: Fatlip & Slimkid3, what inspires you to get back on that stage today?
Fatlip: My name is Fat Lip and I’m an Aries. [laughs] My man Nick hit me up, he told me about the festival. The event being a Mid-City thing, bringing awareness to the culture in this city. Keeping the community before it gets too gentrified, we gon’ bring honor to this city. LA that deserves that. I grew up very near here, on Fairfax and Pico.
AllHipHop: What does it mean for the city of LA?
Slimkid: There were times where you didn't really feel LA culture. Now with things like Mid-City Music Festival or Delicious Vinyl, it really pulls all ages in together. Because the young folks are in their vibe and their wavelength, and we’re on our vibe and wavelength of what was. To mesh those two together is important. We’re trying to figure where the heartbeat is of what LA means again.
AllHipHop: You guys came up during a time of gangster rap in SoCal, but still brought to life the fundamentals of what hip-hop was birthed upon on the East Coast. What are some of your most cherished memories from the early days?
Fatlip: Mine is when I met J-Swift who produced the whole album. Long story short, KDAY used to be on AM, that's what we grew up on.
AllHipHop: Slimkid: 1580 KDAY, it changed now.
Fatlip: That's how we knew about all of hip-hop coming mostly from New York, but there was a lot of Detroit techno vibed out to. LA was crazy. LA is a crazy culture, especially in the 80’s where we come from. We been on stage doing this for a long time. We go to these auditions to try to get a record deal. J-Swift’s like “yo you’re dope, I’m a producer.” He’s 17 at the time. He’s like “take my number.” I threw his number away.
Fatlip: I didn't believe he was a producer, because I didn't know anything about the music industry.
Slimkid: He was mad young too.
Fatlip: That's what it was, he was a young kid. My girlfriend and I were living together, she had a friend named Tababatha. For whatever reason, they’re having a conversation with this dude who’s number I threw away two days ago. It ends up, he actually had a studio. That's how I met him [Slimkid] and everyone in Pharcyde.
AllHipHop: Wiki says Fatliip was the last to join the group. That’s false right?
Fatlip: Definitely false.
Slimkid: We come from a place called SCU, South Central Unit. We’ve always been together since he arrived, doing all of the things we do like practicing and performing. When we got our deal, we were definitely all together. There was a time where he was called Jammer D, of which he’s a very incredible writer/MC in the unit. He's a very valuable asset to the voltron that was created thereafter. We can't let anybody think he’s someone who just came along later.
Fatlip: Yeah because actually, we were all in this workshop ran by our mentor Reggie Andrews. He’s an executive producer of Rick James.
SlimKid: And Patrice Rushen, a lot of classics.
Fatlip: That’s the man, he was our mentor. Every record we used on our first album came from his record collection. We all met at his house. He was a music teacher in high school, that's where I knew J-Swift from. J-Swift was a 17-year-old music prodigy whose dad was an Afro-Cuban jazz musician. It's all music. So much music involved, it’s crazy.
SlimKid: Without him, we wouldn’t know the structures of music, the rhythm of things, the pace of things, the industry itself and what to look out for. We came into the business with a clearer head than we could ever have. We were taught so much ahead of time, watching out for so much stuff. You couldn't just throw money at us and say “here’s a deal for you guys. We’ll give you this much.” We’re like “is there a creative control in there?” Just think if we went for the money, they probably would put us on a shelf and we would've never came out. Because they had their roster of folks doing their thing. It would've been crazy, I'm glad we came through the way we did.
AllHipHop: Your debut album Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde turns 25 this year. What are some immediate feelings?
Fatlip: We old. [laughs] Labcabincalifornia is 20.
Slimkid: No way!
Fatlip: We old, it’s alright with me! [laughs]
AllHipHop: What is it about that album that made it a classic?
Fatlip: Honestly, we were one of the first artists out of LA to get love from the East Coast who started hip-hop.
SlimKid: That was a part of it. Another part is we came during a time where it was heavy gangster rap, and we were a different color. We were a different shade of music at the time, so it was a good contrast.
AllHipHop: Do you feel like that project was justified in numbers?
Fatlip: Tell the Tupac story. [chuckles]
SlimKid: Omg, we were in Seattle. We’re all sitting in the van with Tupac, we just got off the stage. Tupac’s like “man, what's up with y'all? I know you gotta be Platinum. If you aint Platinum, somebody's Platinum.”
Fatlip: He’s like “Are you Platinum or double Platinum?”
Slimkid: He's like “If you aren't that, somebody’s messing you over.” He was very passionate.
Fatlip: He got very mad. He was really upset.
Slimkid: It's good because you don't know the temperature of things on your day to day. I have regular everyday days but around the world — you couldn't look at our Facebook or Instagram followers and know. IG and FB followers are an iceberg to the actual what the hell we are. Not that that's important or not important, but I'm happy the magnitude of what we’ve done has touched so many folks. You can't look at those stats, just be there in the arenas to see it and feel it. The good part is how far we go whether we’re all together or separate. Everybody’s working the world, that's a positive spin.
We did Mexico for the first time a couple months ago. I like how what we did is still stretching, still going. On example is Led Zeppelin. These guys are huge, I never want to put myself next to them. But every time I listen to them — they had their own radio channel. This was before streamed radio, people wanted their Led Zeppelin. It was timeless music.
My friend hit me up from Singapore yesterday, she’s like “your guys’ music never gets old. I just listened to ‘Passin Me By’ again, it sounds fresh and new.” I’m like “wow, that’s a great thing” because that's what we’ve always been working on anyways. That's how we were taught by Reggie Andrews making timeless music. You gotta make timeless music. It's not fabricated. Certain things you make or kids make and put it out there, it might be live for the moment, but then it goes. What we’ve done which is a blessing, has continued to go on and on. It’s super cool, it's a good feeling.
AllHipHop: They say a lot of hoods reunited after Nipsey’s passing. How did you process his passing?
Fatlip: Nipsey’s passing hit me really hard. It was a shock. Like why? Honestly, it was sad. People pass away all the time and you hear it, but for some reason when that happened, that was sad. On the upside, it’s not for nothing. People will be inspired by his work he was actually putting in. I want Nick Cannon to finish that documentary.
SlimKid: Man, it was such a huge shock. I live in Portland, Oregon, so people in other places probably don't understand what it is to feel the way we feel as people from Los Angeles. All of Los Angeles mourned super hard. I was out of it for days, watching all the videos, watching the procession. Seeing the Muslims come out to be the security at the spot, it was huge. All the gang culture, all the different sets coming together who’d never step on each other's turf, they all came together on that day in that moment. It was just peace.
Fatlip: If I'm not mistaken, the Eight-Trays and the Rollin 60s who were enemies for a very long time, came to a truce because of that.
AllHipHop: How do you plan on preserving the legacy of Pharcyde?
Slimkid: That’s a very good question. Me being a DJ, we preserve it like that. We’re older, we did our part with what that was supposed to do. We already did it. It's gonna speak for itself. To search around in my brain for what to do to preserve it, it's what I do with each individual person I meet as this shining light star Pharcyde. What we've done and what we do. Whenever I see him deejay, man that came from a place. Whenever I’m deejaying, I’m so hard focused, he’s so hard focused, we’re in it to rock it. It's more of what people see, as opposed to what I can tell them.
Fatlip: Absolutely right, because the legacy is after you’re gone. You don't control the legacy, it’s what people say and know about you. Preserve the legacy by keeping it real.
SlimKid: The fans are going to preserve it for us. My kids ain’t gon’ preserve it because they’re like “what is that?” They're too young. I have a 12-year-old stepdaughter, 10-year-old stepson, a little 2-year-old, and a 17 year old. They all think different. I try to sneak good music on them when we’re in the car. They're like “can we turn to the radio station?” That plays 3 songs or 3 artists all day. It’s an insult.