The Pharcyde: Atlanta The Masquerade

The Pharcyde serve up their greatest hits...

Two decades battle for dominance at Atlanta, Georgia’s Masquerade, a tri-level bar/nightclub/concert hall. Downstairs, the new wave and old school of ’80s night thump against the wood floors and roughly hewn walls of Hell, while in Heaven the crowd waited for South Central LA’s early ’90s influential hip-hop group The Pharcyde.

After a couple hours of local acts – including hippie-hoppers Minamina Goodsong, the more streetcore Hemisphere and 4-ize and the Bear, whose ‘memorable’ choruses consisted of simply endlessly repeating [I]”bitch”[/I], [I]”bite it, suck it, fuck it”[/I] and [I]”I’m outta control”[/I] – local beatbox legend D.R.E.S. Tha Beatnik shows off his skills (making drum ‘n’ bass out of the ‘Superman’ and ‘Star Wars’ themes with his mouth) as Public Enemy‘s Professor Griff (seen last weekend at KRS-One – is the man everywhere?!?) takes the stage to introduce the evening’s headliners.

The formerly four-man Pharcyde, touring on their most recent album, ‘Plain Rap’, as well as their recent reissues and ‘Best Of’ collection ‘Cydeways’, now consist solely of Imani Wilcox and Romye ‘Booty Brown’ Robinson along with a DJ and congas player, but that doesn’t mean they had half the effect. The streamlined Pharcyde still take the audience on a bizarre ride, starting with ‘Bullshit’ and ‘Drop’ off their second album, ‘LabCabinCalifornia’, before taking it back to 1992 for their

early single ‘Ya Mama’.

With Imani up front and Booty Brown hitting the high sing-song notes the group helped popularize (now carried on by successful acts like Jurassic 5), The Pharcyde are making the white girlz wiggle as the predominantly Caucasian crowd throw their hands in the air and show they cared. The Pharcyde spend the rest of their barely hour-long set ping-ponging between their first two albums – performing ‘Pack The Pipe’, ‘Passin’ Me By’, ‘Mr. Officer’,’Oh Shit, ‘Runnin” and more – while throwing in big ups to cognac, weed, sunshine and their website and a couple of new songs – including the single ‘Trust’ – from their newest joint, ‘Plain Rap’. Finally they close out their set with ‘Soulflower’ and ‘Frontline’.

As the crowd disperse, The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’, appropriately, can be heard throbbing below. It’s a pleasant night of nostalgia no matter where in the building you were.

Tony Ware