The Pharcyde

SHUFFLER 0095: ROOTY-TOOT, A NINCOMPOOP

SHUFFLER 0095: ROOTY-TOOT, A NINCOMPOOP
Friday, July 24, 2015
The Pharcyde – “Passin’ Me By (Fly as Pie Remix)” from Sold My Soul: The Remix and Rarities Collection (2005 Funky Chemist)

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The Pharcyde, in case you don’t know, were one of the greatest things to happen to hip-hop during its golden age, a total bohemian West Coast outfit. In fact, their song “Runnin'” may well be the greatest hip-hop track ever recorded.

That will have to wait for another day, though. “Passin’ Me By” is today’s track, and was the second single the Pharcyde released on their debut record Bizarre Ride II the PharcydeIt’s worth nothing the Pharcyde came on to the scene at the exact moment that gangsta rap, while hardly new, began to really rule the day. Even so, the group, along with contemporaries like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and a host of others, proved to be incredibly successful forging their own “alternative” path within hip-hop. Context: a record called The Chronic came out in 1992.

It’s also worth noting that this particular track purports to be a remix, though, given the fact that the vocals are a completely different register, unless there was some kind of Quasimoto situation happening in the studio, I’m going to go ahead and say that this is just a different recording. All the same, it’s pretty great. Where the original relied on scratchy vinyl and organ vamping, the “remix” sounds more like the kind of shopping mall Muzak one might have heard in the 1980s. Both utilize a house beat pretty handily.

Lyrically it’s a song about pursuing love and failing, which is probably a pretty universal theme. It is, unfortunately, not without its misogynistic moments — talking about sneaking a touch and calling women broads, things of that nature. We chalk that up to being the nature of hip-hop and then move on like it’s nothing, and I wish we didn’t do it. I get why we do it; we don’t want to stop listening to the Pharcyde. Still, though, I wish that stuff wasn’t so pervasive.

Maybe, if we really want a workaround, we could say that these guys are employing some kind of Junot Diaz style subtle critique of patriarchy, a structural rebuke at the sub-atomic level (after all, the protagonists end up broken and alone, their despair “pelagic”), but that may be something of a stretch.

Too bad, because the Pharcyde were really great. I’m not entirely sure I understand why so many of their songs were remixed so many times, but then again, I’m not complaining — it’s nice to see these songs enjoying such a long lifespan.