In the pantheon of hip-hop luminaries, The Pharcyde resides at the crest, burnishing a legacy that is as unique as it is profound. Their skillful lyricism, laced with the realities of urban life, coupled with their gritty yet whimsical tone, produced an avant-garde style that set them apart in the golden era of hip-hop.
With audacious albums like “Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde” and “Labcabincalifornia”, their crafts have arguably redefined the genre, cutting through the tapestry of mainstream rap with a refreshingly different thread. Songs like “Drop” and “Passin’ Me By” are not mere tracks, but cultural staples, providing a seamless blend of funk-infused beats and thoughtful introspective lyrics. The group’s consistency in delivering bops, licks, and flows that defy the norm is a testament to their mastery of this multifaceted genre.
So let’s get into it. From the insightful nuances of “On The DL” to the hypnotic allure of “Passin’ Me By”, here are the Top 12 The Pharcyde songs Ranked from Worst to Best.
12. On The DL
A pure manifestation of The Pharcyde’s ability to flip the script and showcase versatility. The song title is an abbreviation for “On The Down Low,” a colloquial expression in the hip hop community referring to secretive behavior or dealings. While it might not be the group’s most acclaimed work, it still packs a punch with its smooth production and compelling storytelling. Not to mention, it showcases the lyrical prowess of Slimkid3, Imani, Bootie Brown, and Fatlip. “On The DL” is undoubtedly a solid contribution to the hip-hop canon, but when compared with The Pharcyde’s groundbreaking work, it lives a bit in the shadows.
11. 4 Better Or 4 Worse
This joint from their debut album got mixed reviews, to be real. The track sports an avant-garde blend of jazz-infused instrumentals that reminded heads of Tribe’s low-end theory, but with a left-coast spin – a worthy nod to their production roots. Their lyrics, though? Mad introspective, my dude. These cats took a deep dive into the politics of relationships, showcasing a perspective we ain’t used to seeing in hip-hop. Still, it lacked the infectious hooks and brilliant wordplay that propelled their other joints to the top. So 11th place it is, but no disrespect – Pharcyde was always about pushing boundaries, no doubt.
10. Pack The Pipe
Now, don’t get it twisted, this not a track for the faint of heart. Pharcyde was always down to kick some knowledge and this cut is no exception. Laced with trippy, jazz-infused beats, the crew delves deep into the highs and lows of their love for the herb. They unpack this complex relationship with raw, uncensored lines, giving listeners a stark look into their lives. While the track isn’t their strongest lyrically, what really sets it apart are the beats. Producer J-Swift masterfully flips a sample from the jazz-fusion group Weather Report, resulting in a smooth, addictive rhythm that you can’t help but vibe with.
9. Soul Flower – Remix
Initially appearing on the “Brand New Heavies” album, this remix version is the jam that effectively put The Pharcyde on the map. Laced with Jazz-infused beats from the enigmatic production crew The Ummah, the song showcases the group’s uncanny ability to mix rhymes with unfiltered zaniness. Verses like “the bud not the beer cause the bud makes me wiser” illustrate this balance of humor and street-smart consciousness that became a Pharcyde trademark. But let’s keep it a buck, while it’s a dope track worth bumpin’, it doesn’t hold the same iconic status as some of their other bangers. Still, “Soul Flower – Remix” is an essential piece of The Pharcyde’s discography.
8. Ya Mama
This raucous cut off the seminal debut “Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde” is no slouch. It’s an audacious mix of playful diss tracks that defined early ’90s hip-hop, showcasing the group’s spirited sense of humor and distinctive cadence. Despite its party-starting energy, though, it lacks the emotional depth and intricate lyricism that marked The Pharcyde’s best work. It’s a classic example of the raw, nascent talent on display before they evolved into the game-changing force they eventually became. While it’s a must-spin for any Pharcyde fan, it doesn’t reach the heights of the top-tier tracks in their discography.
7. I’m That Type Of Nigga
On any given Sunday is a track that, to my chagrin, frequently gets swept under the rug in the collective memory of The Pharcyde’s discography despite its true merit. Very few tunes encapsulate their flippant attitude towards the gritty hip-hop landscape of the early ’90s as well as this joint does. The song slings fun, playful rhymes, satirizing machismo and gangsta posturing popular at the time. The production, courtesy of J-Swift, is a chilled-out West Coast fiesta – jazz licks and snappy snares make for a laid-back canvas on which Fatlip, Slimkid3, Imani, and Bootie Brown paint their picture of breezy defiance. Far from their best, but still mighty tasteful.
6. Oh Shit
This joint is laced with The Pharcyde’s signature humor and lyrical acrobatics. The tune thrives on its super catchy hook and its satire-filled verses. The group expertly flips tales of hijinks and misadventures over a bouncy beat that’s irresistibly vibrant. While they joke about various situations, the lyrics do contain some biting social commentary, showing us that even the clown prince(s) of hip-hop can keep it real. What keeps this track from ranking higher are the songs that showcase more lyrical depth and complex production. Despite this, “Oh Shit” remains an important piece in The Pharcyde’s discography, a properly lit joint that makes you bob your head while chuckling to the lyrics.
5. Otha Fish
Released in 1993, it’s a pure dopeness that represents The Pharcyde’s signature style – a laid-back, jazzy vibe that’s set apart from other West Coast jams. This track is an unfiltered emotional tale of love lost and the pursuit of moving on. The crew’s smooth rhymes combined with the catchy hook and the soulful loop sampled from “Today” by Tom Scott make “Otha Fish” a stand-out track. It may not top the charts or shout the loudest, but its subtlety and depth speak volumes, making “Otha Fish” a hidden gem in the Pharcyde discography.
4. Moment In Time
This track maintains a more contemplative vibe. As the title suggests, this joint is all about seizing the day, reflecting on the past, and pondering the future. The steady boom-bap beat provides the perfect backdrop for these introspective lyrics, and the Pharcyde’s wordplay hits just right. But, let’s keep it a buck, this track lacks some of the infectious energy and clever lyricism that they’ve become known for. A solid track, no doubt, but not the quartet’s finest hour, which is why it’s holding down the fourth spot on this list.
Coming off their sophomore record, “Labcabincalifornia”, this joint is pure gold, no cap! The slick wordplay married with that tight rhythm, seriously, if you ain’t bobbing your head to this, check your pulse! Spearheaded by Slimkid3, the music mastery goes off the charts, thanks to a jazzy, laid-back beat by the one and only J Dilla. “Drop” came to life through that reversed Run-DMC sample – “my Adidas” flipping into “sadiD ym”. And let’s not forget that video, choreographed by Fatima Robinson, paying a subtle homage to Beatles. A track that was flavor of the month yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So, “keep bouncing” to this gem!
A Pharcyde classic, no doubt about it, featured in many of our lists including our top 50 Greatest Hip Hop Beats of all time . Released on the Pharcyde’s second studio album, “Labcabincalifornia,” this joint speaks volumes about their growth as artists. Produced by the one and only J Dilla, it features a smooth, jazzy beat that’s perfect for the group’s introspective lyrics. This isn’t just a song, it’s a narrative on escaping the hardships of life and the troubles that seem to chase us down. Each member brings a unique flavor to this sonic recipe, but it’s Slimkid3 who shines brightest with his introspective verses and unmatched flow. “Runnin'” might be 2nd on our list, but it’s arguably Pharcyde’s most impactful song, giving hip-hop a timeless anthem about perseverance and resilience, y’all.
1. Passin’ Me By
Ain’t no way we could talk ’bout Pharcyde without dropping respect on their classic, “Passin’ Me By.” This joint right here, fam, changed the game. A bonafide anthem emerging from the Golden Age, the lyricism and storytelling are next level. Pharcyde spit intimate verses about unrequited love, and cat, that struck a chord with hip-hop heads. “Passin’ Me By” became the crew’s signature track, the splash they needed to bubble up from the underground. Yet, it ain’t about the commercial success; it’s about how they flipped melancholy into a dope groove, riding the sample of Quincy Jones’ “Summer in the City.” This is top-tier Pharcyde, the reason why they still ring bells in the hip-hop sphere.