Kiss Smooth Grooves Tour featuring The Pharcyde, Iceberg Slimm

[b]The Pharcyde[/B] still have more talent and personality between them than any group around...

There’s little doubt that The Pharcyde‘s career has been frustrated by the constraints of music industry politics. Following the originality and funky phar-out-itude of their 1992 debut ‘Bizarre Ride To The Pharcyde‘, the LA crew should have achieved superstardom by now. Instead, since successfully shaking off the ‘toking jesters’ tag with their sophomore release ‘Labcabincalifornia‘, the group has fractured and been far from prolific.

Tonight, the frustration for remaining MCs Booty Brown and Imani is the stopwatch counting down their 15 minutes of stage time. After just one track from each of their past albums (‘Passing Me By‘ and ‘The Drop‘), and one from the forthcoming LP ‘Plain Rap‘, there’s been little chance for them to relax into their usual sublime lyrical interplay, nor to bust any of the liquid freestyle moves with which they started their careers as dancers on US TV show ‘In Living Color‘. Even so, the pair manage to give enough of themselves to remind the north London crowd that The Pharcyde still have more talent and personality between them than any group around.

By contrast, east London MC Iceberg Slimm‘s single-song time slot means not having to attempt anything that isn’t well rehearsed and carefully choreographed. The standard accusation levelled at UK MCs with their sights on the pop charts is that they are merely pale imitations of their US counterparts. But tonight, Slimm‘s confident performance of his Jay-Z-esque, kiddie-chorused single ‘Nursery Rhymes‘ has the de-balancing effect of coming across like a US rapper doing a Dick Van Dyke-style impersonation of cartoon Englishness. Even the dance moves are a strange combination of Madness, Morecambe & Wise and Mary Poppins chimney sweeps.

That’s not to say he doesn’t impress. He looks great, his lyrical skills are in no doubt… and if there is room for one UK rap star, please let it be a person rather than a TV ‘personality’.

Callum McGeoch