The Pharcyde are back after five years away from the game, and they’re still keepin’ it tight. Although the style of their tunes has definitely changed, the way in which they can always make you listen is maintained. The lyrics may not be as ear catching as in their previous two albums (Bizarre Ride II and Labcabincalifornia) but that’s probably mainly due to the loss of Fat Lip. Lip was a vital part of the foursome of old, but his loss has not exactly brought around the end of the Pharcyde’s more than catchy style. Plain Rap brings us a more mellow rhythm in the majority of their tracks, with a couple of more hard beats being dropped (in particular with ‘Network’, featuring Black Thought from ‘The Roots’). As such, it’s much more of a background listening type album, and you probably won’t find yourself singing along to the lyrics like you might have done with such classic tracks as ‘Runnin’ and ‘Passin’ Me By’ on their last two albums. However, with such tracks like ‘L.A.’ and ‘Guestlist’ you’ll more than likely find yourself noddin’ your head involuntarily. But I guess that’s what this album is all about. Bootie Brown, part of what is now only a duo (although Tre is involved in pretty much every track in ‘Plain Rap’, he has now left to produce a solo album) admits that he himself ‘didn’t get into’ their first album – ‘Bizarre Ride II’ and claims that Labcabincalifornia was an album targeted at making people dance. ‘Plain Rap’ is obviously not this kind of album; I challenge anyone to try and dance normally to any of these tracks.
1992 – Bizarre Ride II brought us such classic tracks as ‘Passin’ Me By’ and ‘Ya Mama’. The Pharcyde’s first album.
1995 – Labcabincalifornia, whilst not having the same stupid storylines as ‘Bizarre’, still made you wanna laugh and learn the lyrics.
It seems that although ‘Plain Rap’ is a tight album, showing that The Pharcyde can perform at all levels of hip hop, it may have been a compromise to what their record label might have wanted from them. They had been having troubles with their previous record label (Delicious Vinyl) in that they didn’t have the funds to release a new album, but would not release The Pharcyde lads from the contract. The guys did, however, manage to release a self-released EP – ‘Testing The Waters’ – which included five tracks not included on their latest album. The general flow of the EP is similar to that of ‘Plain Rap’ but shows a bit more of that Pharcyde vibe we have been used to in the past. I guess that because The Pharcyde have been touring globally, simply getting their music heard by crowds has been a main concern of theirs. The Pharcyde have been touring loads, getting their music in the ears of people all around the world. but should they have been in the recording studio instead? No…. not really.
‘Plain Rap’ is good. There’s no doubt about that. However, before listening to it, I was hoping for a more uplifting album, one that might get me on my feet. Brown promises us more to come though, claiming he still hasn’t done his greatest work yet. So will The Pharcyde make a return to the more upbeat style of their last couple of albums, or will they glide to a more smooth style, such as in ‘Plain Rap’? Either way, ya gotta give respect to any group that’s been in the game for just over 8 years now! It’s not a classic album, as the last couple might have been, and definitely doesn’t have single tunes that stand out for one aspect, such as ‘Passin’ me by’, ‘Runnin’ and ‘Drop’ might have had, but the album as a whole definetely gets a thumbs up from me.
2000 – Plain Rap shows that although The Pharcyde may be smaller in size, their talent is growing, with them showing their style is versatile.
Reviewed By Hip Hop Network for HipHopHotSpot.Com