• Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

In conversation with: The Pharcyde

ByMahika Ravi Shankar

Dec 2, 2023
photo from the crowd of the pharcyde concert

With a cry of “What’s up, Eddyburg?”, Fatlip (Derrick Stewart), Slimkid3 (Trevant Hardson), and Imani (Emandu Wilcox) took to The Liquid Room stage on October 26. They are on their first UK tour in over 15 years, but they have evidently honed the craft of performance, keeping the crowd bouncing until the lights came on.

Fatlip was excitable and charming, throwing a “shoutout to Harry Potter”; Imani put his leg behind his head to the audience’s delight; Slimkid3 fulfils his reputation, sliding effortlessly into freestyle, and surprising us with a melodic sung interlude during ‘She Said’; and their DJ was remarkable, an orchestral conductor of sorts. As a concoction they radiated with cool vigour.

Concerts nowadays can be a sea of statues, arms raised, phones whirring. But for the lucky members of the crowd, The Pharcyde delivered a show with the energy and slick planning that defined the inimitable 90’s hip-hop scene.

After the show, I met with Fatlip (Derrick Stewart) and Imani (Emandu Wilcox). We discussed and debated music, veganism, and a subject categoric to The Pharcyde’s discography – smoking marijuana.

Mahika Ravi Shankar: Through the show your stage presence was amazing. You were all so active.

Fatlip: [laughs] People ask me, how do you do that on stage? Because I’ve got ADHD, that’s how I do it! They used to say I was hyper as a kid, and I just never stopped being hyper. I used to be a breakdancer – I can still breakdance!

Imani: We don’t really be tripping off of age, I don’t let age scare me.

F: We’re all vegan and we’re all really flexible. The stage here helped; it was the perfect size for us.

MR: You mentioned during the show that you will be releasing new music. How is it to perform songs that you wrote so long ago?

I: When you listen to music or watch television, the people become characters of themselves. People don’t understand that there’s a human outside of the music. I do it too – you expect people to be the same way as when their art was made. But you gotta understand, I was nineteen when I wrote those lines. Now I’m fifty-three, I have children and grandchildren. When you grow with a band, people understand that. But some people, like you guys, jump in when they’re younger. I say to interviewers who ask me about that time: ask questions that you’d ask the fifty-three-year-old me. I’m a stoner for example [laughs], so if you want to ask me some stoner questions, hell yeah.

MR: Does weed play an important part of your life?

F: Yeah, I even smoke weed with my momma… that sound crazy? It’s not crazy to have a drink with your mom but it’s crazy to have a smoke with your mom. It’s crazy it’s not legal here in the UK: people act up off of alcohol and do all kinds of stuff, aint nobody smoking and driving and killing people.

MR: Do you feel like attitudes towards smoking weed have improved since the early ’90s?

I: Nope, I think it’s stayed the same. But it’s a fuckin’ tree, a flower. That’s like me rolling and cooking a dandelion. Why is it illegal anyways? It’s racist, is why. George Washington grew weed. Thomas Jefferson grew weed. It was illegal when America was a colony to not grow weed. But in the ’30s they started propaganda against it because all the jazz musicians were smoking. Then in the ’60s they were like, “nuh-uh. This is the same thing as crack.” Anybody who smokes weed and smokes crack knows, they should not be in the same room. Ever.

MR: Back to the music, what new artists are you on?

I: Whatever Drake’s put out in the last five years. I haven’t had the chance to listen to For All The Dogs, but I’m a fan. I went to see him live and he is dope. People always say, “he’s got so many misses” … as a fan, do you expect every song an artist puts out to be good? You can’t understand what he’s talking about because you’re not rich like him and you don’t live a life like him, so what he’s talking about doesn’t resonate with you. I sometimes feel like, ‘I need some money to listen to this music!’. But I’ve got to the point where I just let go.

M: And what’s your favourite older album? Let’s say over thirty years old.

I: It would have to be something from P-Funk [Parliament-Funkadelic]: maybe Maggot Brain. Or Miles Davis, I’d go for the Lost Quintet.

F: James Brown’s Greatest Hits.

M: Should I allow Greatest Hits?

F: An album is a collection of songs… but okay, I guess albums have a thematic link. In that case, Zagora by Loose Ends.

Image courtesy of Mahika Ravi Shankar.