Released: 1992

“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 Pharcyde Oh Shit

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.