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As immediately believable as they were cartoonish, as much an inner city cipher as a suburban boys gang, the foursome that made up the Pharcyde were the most relatable MCs to ever pass the mic. On their debut and magnum opus Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, they created a record almost overstuffed with possibility, the sound of four restless man-children fresh out of their teens, finding a perfect outlet in a form of music that was just as young and fertile.

And like the product of any adolescent, Bizarre Ride wears its contrarianism and contradictions on its sleeve. It's a party album about shyness and unrequited love. A swirl of jubilant L.A. psychedelia recorded in the midst of the Rodney King trial. A blast of black consciousness that still makes room to poke fun at Public Enemy and reference the Pixies. A dense, sophisticated sonic stew punctuated by yo mama jokes and prank calls.

While hip-hop was already calcifying its tropes of steely machismo and aspirational fantasy, Bizarre Ride was a pure distillation of the average hip-hop listener's actual lifestyle-the joys and sorrows of four guys who were young, broke, sexually frustrated, and way too clever for their own good. A touchstone for Kanye West, Drake, Lil B and a whole generation of off-center MCs, Bizarre Ride sketched out a whole strata of emotions that other rappers hadn't yet dared to tackle, and to a certain extent, still haven't.

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Author: Andrew Barker
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Pages: 152pp
Size: 5 x 6.5
Notes: paperback
Release Date: May 4, 2017
ISBN: 978-1501321276