Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

BIZARRE RIDE II – THE PHARCYDE 20TH ANNIVERSARY MIXTAPE

Last year saw the twentieth anniversary of the Pharcyde’s magnetic debut Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde, and it is with due reason that the label who released it back in 1992, Delicious Vinyl, have been relentlessly celebrating its legacy.

As well as releasing a comprehensive re-issue of Bizarre Ride, Delicious Vinyl have been touring the epic live show Bizarre Ride Live with original members Fatlip and SlimKid3, and producers J-Sw!ft and L.A. Jay.

To mark the record’s anniversary celebrations, and in anticipation of the upcoming Bizarre Ride Live U.S. and Europe tour dates, DJ Chris Read from the U.K. has put together a special mixtape for the label. Read is one of London’s finest DJ’s, and as well as being the driving force behind long-established Music of Substance, is a recording artist for BBE Records and former BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ.

The depth and ambition of Read’s previous mixtapes is staggering, and so Wax Poetics is pleased to premier the Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde 20th Anniversary Mixtape. And to get some context, we spoke to Chris to hear some of his experiences of and thoughts on the classic hip-hop record:

When did you first hear Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde?
I was at school. We’d trade tapes and that sort of thing, so I probably heard it in a friend’s car or somewhere like that. I was a skater as a kid, so I’d grab a ride to places to skate with some of the older kids and we’d always listen to new stuff in the car.

How would you describe the overall sound of the record?
I guess to describe when I first heard it, the best word would be refreshing. It was certainly something unexpected from a West Coast act at the time. It had that sense of fun and offbeat humour that was present on albums like 3 Feet High and Rising, but the Pharcyde definitely put their own spin on the sound. Plus the production and choice of sample material was pretty unique, which really set it apart.

How does digging into the DNA of a record change the way you hear it? Has creating this mix affected how you listen to Bizarre Ride now?
Making the mix really made me dig into the detail a lot more. A lot of the records they sampled are just great records which I love anyway, but doing something like this makes you pay attention in a different way. One thing which I became much more aware of is the way the vocals are laid. They re-recorded vocals for all their remixes to give each of the alternate versions a really different feel—not many people do that even now. And the way the vocals are arranged is great too, the interplay between the different members of the group.

Why do you think that the record has endured for so long?
I think mostly because it was so unique when it came out, and that sort of forges its place as a classic. Even listened to in new context that never goes away, but ultimately it’s just a great record—interesting sample material put together well with entertaining and engaging lyrics. It’s hard to fault that whether you’re listening for the first time or the hundredth time.

Tell us about the mixtape—what’s in there?
Well, it’s all based around tracks from the album but maximising use of all the various versions and associated sample material, so there are remixes from all of the singles from the album, instrumentals, acapellas, original breaks and even some interview snippets from the time of release. It’s a pretty fluid sort of mix which dips back and forth between layers of sample material and the full tracks. I would recommend giving it a listen rather than letting me describe it though!

Track List:
1) The Pharcyde – Ya Mama (Instrumental)
2) Chris Read – Theme #3 (Scratchapella)
3) Marvin Gaye – Since I Had You (Loop)
4) The Pharcyde – Interview (1992)
5) The Pharcyde – Otha Fish (Acapella)
6) The Pharcyde – Otha Fish (LA Jay Remix)
7) The Pharcyde – Otha Fish (Instrumental)
8) Herbie Mann – Today
9) The Pharcyde – Pack the Pipe
10) Herbie Mann – Bijou
11) Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced (Loop)
12) Quincy Jones – Summer in the City
13) The Pharcyde – Passin’ Me By (Acapella)
14) Melvin Bliss – Synthetic Substitution (Loop)
15) Roy Ayers – The Third Eye
16) The Pharcyde – Passin’ Me By (Fly As Pie Mix)
17) Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper & Stephen Stills – Season of the Witch
18) The Soul Children – I Don’t Know What This World Is Coming To
19) The Pharcyde – Ya Mama (J Swift Remix)
20) The Pharcyde – Ya Mama (Acapella)
21) The Pharcyde – Ya Mama (Kenny Dope Remix) (Loop)
22) Stanley Cowell – Travelin’ Man
23) The Pharcyde – On the DL (Instrumental)
24) The Pharcyde – On the DL
25) James Brown – Funky Drummer
26) The Pharcyde – Officer
27) Donald Byrd – Beale Street
28) The Pharcyde – Oh Shit (Instrumental)
29) The Pharcyde – Soul Flower (Remix Acapella)
30) The Pharcyde – Soul Flower (Remix Instrumental)
31) Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick – The Show (Instrumental)
32) The Pharcyde – Return of the B-Boy
33) The JBs – Rockin’ Watergate (Loop)
34) The Pharcyde – 4 Better or 4 Worse (Acapella)

Source: http://www.waxpoetics.com/blog/dj-mix/bizarre-ride-ii-the-pharcyde-20th-anniversary-mixtape

‘When I First Heard Bizarre Ride’ : DJ Induce

A true underground classic, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde is an album beloved by many. In honor of the 20th anniversary, Delicious Vinyl question various respected figures in the music industry and beyond about their experiences and feelings towards the Pharcyde…

This time we have Miami’s own crate-digging producer and DJ Induce talking to Delicious Vinyl about all things Pharcyde: songs he likes to play, the first time he heard them, and worldwide love for the band…

‘When I first heard –The Pharcyde– I was in…’?

My friend’s car, probably on the way to school. We were the only kids driving to school in like 8th grade because my friend was Brazilian and had been held back a couple of years. We would show up to middle school in a Land Cruiser bumping “4 Better or 4 Worse“, and I specifically remember our favorite nasty line which I will not repeat here.

Favorite Pharcyde song?

Pandemonium” from the Street Fighter Soundtrack. Well, maybe that’s second to the “Runnin’ (Jay Dee Remix)“. I first heard that remix on the University of Miami station when it came out. Needless to say I think it’s one of Jay Dee’s best and I could listen to it over and over ad nauseam.

Any particular Pharcyde song you like to include in your mixes or DJ sets?

That Jay Dee “Runnin'” Remix.          

Is there love for the Pharcyde in Miami?

The Pharcyde gets love all over the world…

Favourite ‘Ya Mama’ joke?

I only know a total of 2 jokes, but my favorite line from the song is: “Ya Mama got snakeskin teeth” – I love that shit!

Check out more from Induce and The Wonderful Sound here.

Words: Alice Price-Styles.

‘When I First Heard Bizarre Ride’ : Chris Read, WhoSampled

A true underground classic, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde is an album beloved by many. In honour of the 20th anniversary, Delicious Vinyl question various respected figures in the music industry and beyond about their experiences and feelings towards the Pharcyde…

Next up we have Chris Read from the online music database Who Sampled speaking out about Bizarre Ride. The London DJ and BBE artist shares his personal Pharcyde memories, and as the content and community manager of Who Sampled, breaks down the intricacies of the albums DNA:

‘When I first heard –The Pharcyde– I was in…’? 

…a friend’s car I think. I would have been about 15/16 years old. I was a skateboarder as a kid, so we were always swapping cassettes and listening to them in our friends’ cars on the way to places to skate.

Favourite Pharcyde song and why?

I think it must be the “Passin’ Me By (Fly As Pie remix by L.A. Jay)” with the Roy Ayers sample. I had a cassette single which got listened to death. I remember pulling it out of a box of old tapes and listening to it on my portable stereo, on the first day in my college room the day I moved out of home.

Favourite sample used in Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde

I think it has to be the combination of samples and references in ‘Officer’. The use of the Ramsey Lewis hook and the lyrical references to Public Enemy’s ‘Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos’ are just a great combination that combines comedy with deft sample mining.

Is there a sample in Bizarre Ride that you found surprising at all? 

The Jimi Hendrix sample in the original version of “Passin’ Me By” was a bit of a surprise for me. You’d expect a sample like that to give the track a rocky feel but the part they used and the way they used it just adds a great texture to a mix of other sample sources.

Best song that has sampled The Pharcyde?  

There are two tracks that I particularly like that have sampled or referenced the Pharcyde. The first is Kero One’s ‘The Cycle Repeats’ which uses a small vocal sample from ‘Passin’ Me By’ scratched on the hook. It’s not particularly notable as a result of the way the sample is used, but it’s classic hip-hop methodology in quite a modern setting. My second choice is ‘Clin D’Oeil’ by Jazz Liberatorz, a fantastic jazz / soul band and production outfit from France. In this case the reference is not a sample but a subtle interpolation of the hook from Pharcyde’s “Bull****” played on Rhodes Piano. A great track.

What do you feel makes a good use of sampling? 

In terms of Pharcyde tracks? I would say Dilla’s use of Suadade Vem Correndo on “Runnin’”. It’s not that the sample was flipped in a particularly adventurous way, but the fact that people were rarely sampling that style of music at the time and the way he just grabbed that hook from somewhere deep in the track, you know he must have listened through a lot of music to arrive at that choice … and it still rocks a club more than 15 years later.

Favourite ‘Ya Mama’ joke? 

I can barely hear that phrase without singing to myself about glass eyes and fish. “Ya Mama’s got a glass eye with a fish in it.” Maybe not the funniest but it’s a hook that’s stood the test of time.

Check out the WhoSampled site here and Chris Read’s own projects at Music of Substance

Words: Alice Price-Styles.

When I First Heard Bizarre Ride : Kidkanevil

A true underground classic, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde is an album beloved by many. In honour of the 20th anniversary, Delicious Vinyl question various respected figures in the music industry and beyond about their experiences and feelings towards the Pharcyde…

Next up, we have the dope UK producer and First Word Records artist Kidkanevil chatting about his own Pharcyde memories and preferences:

‘When I first heard –The Pharcyde– I was in…’?

Damn, school I guess! “Ya Mama” sparked a fair amount of school yard giggles if I remember correctly.

Favourite Pharcyde song?

That’s a super hard choice, but I think I’ll go with “Splattorium.” Labcabincalifornia was one of the first albums to really draw my attention to Jay Dee, and this lil’ ditty was so beautiful. I would stick it on repeat alllll day. A lot of hip-hop at the time was pretty aggressive, kind of following the Wu Tang template, and this was so vibey and spaced out in comparison. Amazing.

What would happen if Negro Kanevil (J-Sw!ft’s alter-ego) and Kidkanevil were put in the same studio??

Haha, I dunno! Hopefully some dope shit. And maybe a few accidents.

Favourite ‘Ya Mama’ joke?

I like the ad-libs at the end: “Ya mama’s so fat you can’t even see her legs/ it just looks like she’s just gliding across the floor…”

Keep up to date with the world of Kidkanevil – all the music, tours, and more – here.

Words: Alice Price-Styles.

When I First Heard Bizarre Ride : Andre Torres

A true underground classic, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde is an album beloved by many. In honour of the 20th anniversary, Delicious Vinyl question various respected figures in the music industry and beyond about their experiences and feelings towards the Pharcyde…

 

This time around we have the founder of Wax Poetics, Andre Torres, reflecting on his own encounters with Bizarre Ride and The Pharcyde. Here’s what the man who created a cult-status publication by shining a light onto all the stories behind your favourite records has to say:

‘When I first heard –The Pharcyde– I was in…’?

College.

Favourite Pharcyde song?

Return of The B-Boy” because it was how I became aware of Madhouse – which was a complete revelation for me.

What do you make of the production on Bizarre Ride?

J-Sw!ft was dope. A young cat coming out of the West who knew his beats and the tradition of NY hip-hop but had his own bugged out Cali take on it.

Favourite ‘Ya Mama’ joke?

Ya mama’s so old her breasts only make powdered milk.

Gross! You can check out the finest music magazine there is, here: www.waxpoetics.com

Words: Alice Price-Styles.

When I First Heard Bizarre Ride : Mr Thing

A true underground classic, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde is an album beloved by many. In honor of the 20th anniversary, Delicious Vinyl question various respected figures in the music industry and beyond about their experiences and feelings towards the Pharcyde…

Sounding out all the way from the UK we have the original Scratch Perverts member, London’s very own beloved DJ Mr Thing sharing his Pharcyde tastes and memories:

‘When I first heard –The Pharcyde– I was in…’?

When I first heard The Pharcyde I was in a Westwood jam in Vauxhall, just as “Ya Mama” came out. DJ Biznizz played it when he was opening up for him and I pretty much went and tracked it down as soon as I could!

Favourite Pharcyde song?

Hard for me to choose between “Runnin’‘” and “4 Better or 4 Worse”, I played both of those to death in my car at the time. “Runnin’” I put on a very early mix-tape I did and even copied the Run-DMC cuts on that mix, then “4 Better or 4 Worse” because it’s one of my favourite breaks ever (“Blind Alley”) with some absolutely brilliant Fender Rhodes on it. I swore it was a sample for the longest time, but was recently informed it was played! I love the whole vibe of both tunes, so it’s tough to call it…

Is there a Pharcyde song you like to scratch up? Ever used a Pharcyde song or skit in one of your routines??

Since the Visioneers did their cover of “Runnin’” I made up a scratch routine using the Run-DMC Rock Box cut and then blended in the original Pharcyde version into the chorus, it works really nicely. I’ve done it at the J Dilla tribute nights here a few times, plus I’ve got all the records on 45s too so been doing it in those sets as well!

Would you say there is love for The Pharcyde in London and the U.K.??

Most definitely. The records always get a good response in DJ sets, and I think most serious collectors here went a bit crazy for the 7″ box-set that came out for Record Store Day (myself included)!

Favourite ‘Ya Mama’ joke?

Special honorary mention to KMD for “Your Mother likes to visit the old churches” just for the randomness of it, but my favourite is still – “Ya Mama’s got a wooden leg with a kick-stand” – Genius!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI2kOajLMR8

Keep up to scratch with all of Mr Thing’s various activities, including live sets, tours, and The Funhouse live-stream here.

Words: Alice Price-Styles.

When I First Heard Bizarre Ride : Prince Paul

A true underground classic, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde is an album beloved by many. In honour of the 20th anniversary, Delicious Vinyl question various respected figures in the music industry and beyond about their experiences and feelings towards the Pharcyde…

This time we have the incredible hip-hop producer who started out with Stetsasonic, created seminal work with De La Soul and the Gravediggaz, as well as many brilliant solo projects: New York’s highness, Prince Paul.

‘When I first heard –The Pharcyde– I was in…’?

My studio in Long Island with an advance cassette copy.

Favourite Pharcyde song?

4 Better or 4 Worse” was my favourite because it was so melodic and had a really great concept. I remember telling De La Soul how great the album was.

People often compare Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde to 3 Feet High & Rising – what do you think to that?

I’m flattered that people would think that. But, I can see the comparison being the playfulness of the albums.

As a producer what do you make of the production on Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde?

I always thought the production was genius, and at the time wished I had thought of it.

Do you have a favourite Pharcyde skit?

I’m not sure if it’s a skit, but the end of “4 Better or 4 Worse” is pretty crazy.

Favourite ‘Ya Mama’ joke? 

Yo mama is so stupid that I saw her yelling into an envelope, asked what she was doing, and she said sending a voice mail.

Keep up to date with Prince Paul’s current projects, such as his Negroes on Ice show and upcoming solo album here.

Words: Alice Price-Styles.

When I First Heard Bizarre Ride : Rob Swift

A true underground classic, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde is an album beloved by many. In honor of the 20th anniversary, Delicious Vinyl question various respected figures in the music industry and beyond about their experiences and feelings towards the Pharcyde…

First up we have the turntablist extraordinaire Rob Swift of the legendary X-Ecutioners crew, and ESPN’s first resident DJ on the late-night sports show UNITE, sharing his experiences:

‘When I first heard –The Pharcyde– I was in…’?

The first time I heard Pharcyde was in my living room watching the video for “Passin’ Me By” on Music Video Box.

Favourite Pharcyde song?

Passin’ Me By” because it reminds me of teenage crushes I had. Whenever I hear it I think of every girl that passed me by in High School.

Is there a Pharcyde song you like to scratch up?
No, I rather just vibe out to Pharcyde.

Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde’s DNA is dense and jazz-fuelled – what do you think makes a good use of sampling?
I think it’s all about the way you layer the samples you use. The best beats are the ones that take a variety of samples and make them sound like one.

Favourite ‘Ya Mama’ joke?
Ya mama’s so fat she needs a hula hoop to keep her pants up!

Keep up to date on Swift’s activities, including worldwide tours, his resident DJ gig on ESPN’s UNITE, this years ‘Roc for Raida’, his ‘Dope on Plastic’ radio show, and classical fusion album ‘The Architect’ here: www.djrobswift.com

Words: Alice Price-Styles.

What’s Up, Fatlip? Alice Price-Styles Talks With The Former Member Of The Pharcyde In London

Throughout the label’s history, Delicious Vinyl has always maintained funky and fruitful international relations with the UK. Hailing out of West London, the original, acid jazz ‘pioneers’ the Brand New Heavies joined the Delicious family in 1990. And, it was on their 1992 release Heavy Rhyme Experience, Vol. 1 that one of the labels most prominent acts made their debut. The song that introduced a particular young group, who were to change the face of West Coast hip hop, to the world, was an infectious, energy-fuelled jam called ‘Soul Flower’. The influential group in question were none other than The Pharcyde.
After the release of the seminal debut Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde in 1992, The Pharcyde played their first London show at the legendary venue The Jazz Café in July of 1993 – and were described by one UK journalist as ‘four freaky guys from LA who see the world through a haze of reefer smoke and strut their stuff, without instruments, over a hail of jazz samples and ‘phat’ beats’ (dig the awkward British inverted commas over phat – England is full of reserved hip hop fans).
Just as Los Angeles has been celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Bizarre Ride in true style, London Pharcyde fans have been showing their support for Fatlip on his European DJ Tour this year. And, if his wild set at East Village back in February is anything to go by, with uncharacteristic levels of abandon.

So, I caught up with Fatlip at The Breakfast Club in Hoxton last weekend, in between his London and Brighton shows, to chat about his UK tour, Bizarre Ride Live, and Pharcyde memories…

How would you describe The Pharcyde, Fatlip?
Pretty much from the beginning we were just homies, creative dudes, hanging out, smoking weed, making music and having fun.

Tell me a bit about your experiences back when you were Jammer D…
Jammer D was the first rap name that I came up with, as I was in a dance group in high school called the Jammers. The dance culture happening at the time was a big thing throughout all of the high schools in LA. We used to have huge dance contests, and dance to Kraftwerk, CyberTron, and all of these European, early electronic groups, as well as Uncle Jamm’s Army, early Dr Dre stuff.
Then, I got out of high school, fell in love with hip hop and started trying to write rhymes of my own. I would just write constantly, day and night – taking no-sleeping pills just so I could stay up all night, smoke cigarettes and write. I was a real writer back then. That’s Jammer D; a real lyricist.

At the Bizarre Ride Live show last month for the ‘Return Of The B-Boy’ finale you all busted out some impressive dance moves.
We’ve been doing it for so long; the whole dance thing was a huge part of the Pharcyde show. It engages us more with the music. But that finale was fun, and we got to dance with one of the best poppers ever: Boogaloo Shrimp.

What was the highlight of that show for you?
The moment somebody told me it was sold out. That was the moment. I heard it at sound-check, and my mood was lifted through the roof; I was walking on clouds. You know, it was twenty years later – people didn’t have to support us, we didn’t have to have fans, we didn’t have to have gotten this far. That was the highlight; that was a great feeling.

The energy just before the show was incredible.
Oh and then every other moment after that, up until a week later I was still feeling it. It was an incredible celebration. When are we going to have an opportunity to do that again? Never. So that’s what made it a special moment, and the fact that it went off well…

So what’s next on the cards with everything? What have you got coming up?
Continuing to build my DJ Fatlip brand is really what I’m focusing on, and then my production after that.

Are you recording with any of the guys that were involved recently?
Yes – me and Tre are doing a record. The album is going to be released in Japan, and a single is going to be released in the States. We’re about to shoot a video in Brazil this month, so I’m excited about that too. And then hopefully the Bizarre Ride Live show – since it’s the twenty year anniversary – our plan is to continue touring it for the whole year.

Did working on the Bizarre Ride Live show feel similar to when you were recording the Bizarre Ride album?
It totally did. Pretty much everybody that was involved in Bizarre Ride was there; even our old road managers were there. So with the rehearsals, the DVTV ustream, and all of the meetings and stuff like that, we were all hanging out having fun for the whole time. Even the sound-checks were fun, because everyone was there.

Has it been strange to go straight from that to being on a solo tour as DJ Fatlip in the UK?
Well, it’s what I do and I like to do both. I love being there with my friends doing a big show, but the DJ Fatlip thing is my own personal thing, so I enjoy that as well.

Is it good to maintain the two at the same time?
Oh it’s great; the best of both worlds. There’s no denying that the whole Pharcyde thing is a part of who I am. To be able to combine the two in the same year and the same time frame is really nice.

How do you find Pharcyde fans in the UK compared to back home?
Kind of the same, they’re just younger. It is weird how the styles have transferred – the way that kids view hip hop, we viewed it the same way back then. That style has maintained over a period of time – kids kind of dress the same…

Older music often translates to younger fans if it was originally recorded by an artist when they were at that same age…
Oh totally. I agree with that. Because the expression is a young expression; you made it in a time of your life where you were just open to everything, and had a lot of energy, and that translates to the music. It was raw; it was something that we were getting from somewhere else. So it was like a raw self-expression. And that’s something that you can only do at that age when you don’t care about anything else – we weren’t trying to be sexy, we didn’t care about having money. It was just that raw, hip hop feel.

Do you have any stories from your UK tour?
Well, there was the time I lost that charger – two times! I lost mine and Spin Doctors…I guess I was having a lot of fun on this tour and, you know, sometimes when you have fun things get…

Lost.
Things get lost. It’s the sign of a good time.

Do you have a favourite Pharcyde memory, from any point in the whole journey?
My favourite Pharcyde memory is the day that we found the sample for ‘Passin’ Me By’ and came up with the idea for the chorus. It was before we even got a record deal, and I remember everybody in the room bouncing ideas off of each other. We already had the beat and there was a feeling that something new was about to happen.

All the Pharcyde members have their own style – was it ever conscious to want to differentiate yourself or carve your own identity within the group?
The thing with us is we always started out with a chorus, and so we always had a theme. That allowed us to go and write our own interpretations of this one theme, which was the chorus. With ‘Passin’ Me By’ we had that theme and all of us told our own story about how somebody had passed us by. Most of our songs were like that, and because of the theme we were naturally able to shine individually as each member told his side of the story. So, there was some togetherness on the chorus within the theme, but then we were also able to express our own personalities.

Do you have a favourite Pharcyde song?
I would have to say ‘Passin’ Me By’. Definitely. From the beginning, the first verse, to the last it’s just hands down my favourite. And I like ‘Pack the Pipe’ a lot too.

‘4 Better or 4 Worse’ is such an intense song to me – I think of the main beat as kind of dark and intense, and then the samples are super dreamy – it’s like everything magnified, in terms of the mood and emotions.
Yeah. There were a lot of layers of samples on that first record. J-Sw!ft was a piano player, a real musician, and the way that he looped all of those samples and combined the keyboard elements…

When L.A. Jay was playing all the original Bizarre Ride samples on the DVTV ustream – you could recognise the elements and hear how the songs came together.

So when L.A. Jay was playing those records, that was just like the time that we found the record collection. We found those records and were listening to them, and then we were like ‘something is going to happen, we have got to make something out of this’. We had never heard that music before. We discovered all of this great music, and that was inspiring for us. That was really inspiring.

As well as the music – what else, what other things, inspired you at that time?
We thought we were political. I was all angry and rebellious back then. Just always sitting around, smoking weed, talking about the injustice…

I think that definitely comes out in the album.
That’s what you do when you’re that age right? Talk about revolution… Bob Marley was also somebody that inspired me back then too: his approach and his message. He spoke about injustice, but he also spoke about love and peace and all of that. Just to hear that – it was good for the soul.

I mean there are messages, like you can protest about injustice or whatever. And then there are messages like James Brown would say – he had a lot of messages. When he said ‘it’s a man’s world, but it’s nothing without a woman or a girl’ – that’s a big message. The messages were a lot more positive in songs back then. And it’s inspiring to hear that.
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Alice Price-Styles is a writer based in the U.K. Read more of her work at NiceStyles.tumblr.com

L.A. Jay Is All Love – Q&A with co-producer of Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde

John “L.A. Jay” Barnes III and Delicious Vinyl share a mighty fine history together. Producing dope tracks such as The Pharcyde’s ‘Otha Fish’ and ‘Pork’, and working his magic to create impeccable remixes of Masta Ace’s ‘Saturday Nite Live’ and The Pharcyde’s ‘Passin’ Me By’ (Fly As Pie Remix), as well as so much more, Jay has undoubtedly contributed some pretty special jams to the labels catalogue.

Playfully described as the ‘George Clooney of hip hop’ by J-Sw!ft on DVTV, L.A. Jay is certainly one smooth operator when it comes to the beats and samples. Just as the soulful delivery of SlimKid3’s poetic lines manages to work in aural and thematic harmony with Fatlip’s wild rhymes and the high-pitched intonation of Imani and Bootie Brown, L.A. Jay’s smooth touch always provided a nice twist to Pharcyde beats and the rambunctious production style of J-Sw!ft.

At the recent Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde 20th Anniversary Celebration at The Roxy, Jay not only controlled the turntables but was also the man supplying the mind-blowing visuals during the sensory overload of a show.

So, we caught up with Jay to chat a little about the landmark show and indulge in even more reminiscing…

Alice Price-Styles: You put together the live visuals for the Bizarre Ride show – could you talk about the idea to use video and how it came about?
L.A. Jay: Well, the very first thing that I envisioned, which is the reason I ended up being the one to do it, was for the song ‘I’m That Type of Nigga’. I saw this vision of Godzilla, from the old Japanese movies, him just coming through knocking buildings down and all of that as a visual representation of what the song is about; boasting and telling emcees that you will crush them. I mentioned that one idea to Mike Ross and he was all for using visuals to make the show pop onstage. So, the ideas to do something unique for each song spawned from that original seed.

AP-S: Now to take it back – how did you first meet The Pharcyde? And how did you first get involved working with them?
LAJ: Wow. Let’s see. I think Derrick, Fatlip, was the very first person that I met maybe back in 86/ 87. There was this whole scene in LA, a dance scene where dance groups would compete with one another. He was in one of those groups called the Jammers, which is why his original name was Jammer D. One of the main crews promoting those parties/ dance competitions was called Jam City, and I was one of the deejays for that crew. I think I met Fatlip during that time.

J-Sw!ft and I met because I was producing a girl group called The Good Girls, whose record is the first major label record that I produced. My manager at that time was also managing the group so we were kind of a crew – me, the girls, and a couple of other producers. J-Sw!ft’s manager, Reggie Andrews, knew my manager, and presented some of J’s music to us for the groups album. At the time I was a little cocky, and I think you kind of have to be when you’re first starting out; you have to feel like you can do it better than most. I felt like no one could come in and knock me out of my spot as one of the main producers of the album. They had just signed with Motown and those album placements were important to us. But, when I heard his stuff I was like ‘oh this dude is pretty serious too!’

AP-S: Recently on DVTV J-Sw!ft referred to your track Pork as a jab at him – was it ever that competitive between you two with your production?
LAJ: Um…no, he was joking when he said it was a jab! We were very competitive, but we were homeboys.

Back then, everybody would be hanging in a room like this – a bunch of us – and there would be a cassette deck and you’d come in with your new beats for everyone to hear. When you pressed play, you’d see on everybody’s faces instantly if the energy in the room elevated or not.

A lot of times it would be J-Sw!ft and I going back to back, and it was friendly competition. Though, at the same time, I’m sure that he wanted to make sure that his beats were better than mine, and likewise I did the same – we were pushing each other.

So, he meant that in a fun way like ‘aw man – he came with a left hook! And he got me with that one!’

Me and J-Sw!ft have never been enemies, it’s always been all love. By the time that I met him I already knew his work and he knew mine. We had a mutual respect because I knew that he was good, and he liked my stuff too. We worked on some projects together as a production team for a while. J-Sw!ft and Fatlip were the first to work together in terms of any Pharcyde connection. There are so many connections though, as even Imani from The Pharcyde was instrumental in helping with some choreography for The Good Girls, so I had kind of met him through that.

Basically, we were just a bunch of young folks that ended up connecting on a creative level, even before they were called The Pharcyde. Even before they were the group which they were before The Pharcyde, which was called 242, we were starting to link and hang out and have a mutual respect for people’s different crafts.

We became this collective group of people who hung out, bounced ideas off of each other, partied a lot, worked a lot, and built a lot in terms of brainstorming and listening to music, critiquing other people’s music. That whole thing was just a juggernaut that carried everybody to the next level with The Pharcyde.

AP-S: As a group – what do The Pharcyde mean to you? What do they symbolise?
LAJ: They symbolise sincerity number one, and just openness, colour, and artistry. Artistry meaning whatever it calls for; they dance, they rap, and they’re song-writers. They may be song-writers first, rappers second. Great examples of that are ‘Passin’ Me By’ and ‘Otha Fish’ – those are songs. That’s one of the things that the collective really contributed to. There was a wealth of heavy musicians around us and a wide range of perspectives because of it.

I came up under my father (John Barnes) who was, and is a serious session musician/composer/producer who had worked with tons of legends from Marvin Gaye to Michael Jackson, and Bill Withers to Lionel Richie to name a few. And then Reggie Andrews, who really mentored them, was kind of a father figure to all of us. He was a serious figure in the L.A. music scene and had written and produced hit records as well. So, we had a real foundation of that record making mentality.

There is a certain type of hip hop that is all about spitting rhymes, a banging beat, laying those verses one after the other – that’s really dope and I do love a hard-ass emcee. But I’m saying what makes the Pharcyde a little bit different, is that they came from the standpoint of not only making a banger, but a true artistic song.

It’s all about the end result translating to listeners as a really clear message, and to bare your soul on that record. Not just trying to destroy every emcee in every verse, but baring your soul and sharing your experience. The Pharcyde honestly express themselves and I think that’s one of the things that makes them so memorable.

AP-S: Do you have a particular favourite or stand out memory of The Pharcyde?
LAJ: My goodness. There’s so, so many. J-Sw!ft is better at this stuff than me –not only does he remember everything but he’s a great storyteller. We’ve had so many experiences but one of my favourite times was Lake Arrowhead when twenty, maybe twenty five, of us rented a big cabin for the weekend and we just had a blast. Oh my lord.

That was even before they had a record deal. It was a bunch of us, a bunch of girls, and we were just hanging out, partying – can you imagine?? It was a three story cabin and it had a Jacuzzi and a sauna, balconies and we were out in the forest. It was a hell of a party. We went out hiking one day and J-Sw!ft jumped off of a cliff into some water…we didn’t even know how deep the water was.

AP-S: I can’t imagine J-Sw!ft loose in the woods….
It was one of my fondest memories of everybody hanging out. But, it was just a daily affair back then – all day everyday hanging out and vibing. It was such a pure time because we were just about what we were about, with no corruption. Seeing everybody being supportive, building, encouraging each other, encouraging people to push the envelope with their craft…it was a really good time.

Oh – one memory on a personal note – one time we were out at a club and for some reason there was this dude that had it out for me and wanted to fight me. I still don’t know to this day why. He came up to try and sucker punch me, to take a swing at me while I wasn’t looking. My best friend was there and caught him right before, as the guys knuckles scraped my head. I look up after that and I see Tre, I think Romye and a bunch of the guys all fighting the other dudes homies – you just don’t know how much someone has your back until something goes down. Every now and then I would think about that and be like ‘wow – they really had my back’. It’s always been a lot of love, and to this day it is, for all four members. All four of those guys I’ve got a lot of love for; I want to see them all win.

Alice Price-Styles is a UK-based writer. Read more of her work at www.MintMagazine.co.uk