Soundtrack to the Article: Crazy Dream – Tom Misch x Loyle Carner & Runnin- The Pharcyde
Sometimes an act pops up at Melkweg that i never thought i would get the chance to witness with my own eyes. As a young yute running round Watford in the early 2000’s , US hip-hop was always something playing in the background but never really focused on. Jay-Z, Chris Brown and perhaps sadly, Pitbull, where the only US rappers that i really heard in my younger years. We were slap bang in the middle of the UK Urban Music revolution making it kind of difficult to want to listen to any other nations music. In hine site, maybe it was particularly difficult to hear it over the sounds of Dappy “Nana naiinaii”-ing for the best part of a decade.
Therefore, it wasn’t until i moved to Amsterdam as a student that i properly fell in love with the history of Old School US Hip Hop. The likes of Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian & the Jungle Brothers are still to this day a large part of my music diet. My only trepidation about falling in love with this part of history was my concern that it was an era i was to far removed from, by time and tides. It wasn’t until i witnessed Grandmaster Flash, the founder of hip-hop, spinning live at Q-factory in 2017 that i realised that this idea was bullshit. Old-School hip hop is not only still alive, but its still just as fucking good live as it was in the 80’s. That brings us to the latest Cali Import to arrive in Amsterdam: The Pharcyde
The Pharcyde Live at Melkweg
This was a gig that we at 2&6 had been gassed about for quit some time. The Pharcyde’s two most iconic tracks ,”Runnin” & “Passin Me By”, are psychedelic masterpieces that have continued to make people fall in love with Hip Hop for over 25 years. This longevity is best explained by the futurity or the original creations. Runnin sounds like a song that could have been born out of the brain of J. Cole or at the Revenge of the Dreamers 2 writing session last year. The way Imani jumps in on the 3rd Verse: “Its 1995”, is almost identical to the way Cozz does on Dreamviles “1993”. Therefore, walking through the doors at Melkweg on a crisp Sunday evening, i was less worried about the time that had passed for these songs too still engender the same level of hype and crowd participation as they always had done.
Sometimes with live hip-hop, a ‘never meet your heros’ kind of effect can happen where it just doesn’t sound the same as it did when you were making memories to it. The Pharcyde were wholeheartedly an exception to this rule.
The stage itself was dark, simple and small, a familiar environment for the two members of Pharcyde that would grace us with their presence: Uncle Imani & Bootie Brown. The duo had been touring with there DJ and opening act… who was impressively in tune with he group despite being a new addition to there European dates. The main weapon in his arsenal was the unique audio visual system that was synced together, meaning that ever time a wheel up or scratch happened the image followed suit. The addition of this technological development was clearly implemented to modernize the group. This tactic i personally think was a slight waste of time and undermining to the abilities of the duo to keep us entertained. And that they did.
I’ve never seen so much physical energy put into any show by any artist than i did by Imani that night. The performance was not only a showcase of his sharp lyrical ability but also his superhuman cardio and gymnastics skills for a man of 48. It was unbelievably impressive to see him high kick, worm, break dance and roll across the stage like some kind of smooth gangster cheerleader. Booty Brown conveyed a more cool and collected approach, yet both were still dressed fresher than a single member of their student audience. Tune after tune began to roll on by as the two performed both classics like Ya Mama and B cuts like THE HUSTLE.
I’ve never seen a plumb of smoke rise up from the crowd all at once like it did when the opening lick of Runnin came on. This moment was foregrounded by Imani asking the whole audience to come forward to the stage, a testament to his artistic ability to sense that the vibe was dwindling. From Runnin till the Encore of Passin Me By, the show was a perfect reenactment of any of there 80’s shows, a particularly impressive achievement in the context of a Dutch audience.
Yet the most nostalgic moment came after the stage was cleared. As the crowd dissipated to the smoking area, they were greeted by the face of Imani behind the merch stall, signing anything and everything that came his way. I haven’t seen this happen at a big venue concert in years. In a time were security and private dressing rooms are on everyone rider, it was so refreshing and a real touch of class for him to shake hands with everyone that came to see him. If imani had a dressing room then he sure as shit didn’t see it and if he had security they sure as shit didn’t see him, he was with the crowd the whole time.
Hip-Hop in Amsterdam
In conversation with him i learnt that they were in fact not on tour rather that they had flown from Cali straight to Amsterdam just for this show. Except for being a testament to the quality of weed here, it also shows the fondness for this city in the hearts of musicians. I don’t think The Pharcyde will be fading into the background any time soon, despite complex labeling them the 20th biggest Fall Off in Hip Hop. Idiots!