“Oh Shit” by The Pharcyde is a narratively rich, humor-filled song, underscored with themes of surprise, sexual misadventures, and unexpected situations that arise in the day-to-day hustle. Each verse is a separate anecdote, but they all end in the same way – exclaiming “Oh shit” in response to a surprising circumstance.
The first verse, delivered by Bootie Brown, sets the scene with Little Sally Walker, a classic American children’s rhyme. Here, the reference is flipped on its head – used in the context of a raw tale of lust and subsequent regret. The “Woody Woodpecker” reference speaks volumes about the rapper’s playfulness, bridging the gap between childhood innocence and adult desires. The verse also makes a fun Star Wars reference, suggesting he’s as smooth as Luke Skywalker with a lightsaber. The verse concludes with the artist getting caught in a compromising situation, hence the reiterated exclamations of “Oh Shit.”
Following the hook is Imani’s verse, starting with a self-praising assertion of his slick nature, likening himself to Grease. There’s a tongue-in-cheek twist when he mentions his friend’s mom using a metaphor twisted from the children’s rhyme – here, the innocent child’s play is transformed into a mature, risqué situation. His verse concludes similarly, with an uncomfortable situation being discovered, invoking the title catchphrase.
The final verse flows from Fatlip, unfolding an unexpected encounter during a drive on the Crenshaw Boulevard – a notorious South Central LA street. The narrative takes a surprising twist with the lady he’s attracted to turning out to be a trans woman – triggering his surprised exclamation – The “John Doe” is his euphemistic phrase to underline this unexpected revelation.
“Oh Shit” by Pharcyde is a brash, yet vibrant depiction of life’s comedy of errors. It’s a playful way of expressing the surprise elements that life throws us in the most unexpected moments. Importantly, it’s a lesson in revealing that in hip-hop, as in life, things aren’t always as they first appear.