The Pharcyde, K-OTIX Fitzgerald's October 24, 2013
Hip-hop has evolved over the years of its existence more than any type of music in the same time period. Since the late '70s and early '80s, has moved from the simplistic beats and rhymes of Slick Rick and Sugar Hill Gang to the more provocative LL Cool J and Public Enemy, through Tupac and Biggie into your pop-culture-busting Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang and Eminem, and all the way to Lil Wayne, Jay-Z and Kanye.
Somewhere there in the early '90s, when Pac and Dre were "out on bail, fresh out of jail, California dreamin," a branch of free-thinking lyric-based hip-hop branched off from the mainstream "gangsta rap" that had been all over MTV at the time.
One of the most influential and celebrated groups from that time, The Pharcyde, got together last year for the first time in ages, and has been steadily touring around the country since, including twice now to a nearly full room of Houston classic hip-hop fans.
Thursday's mood was set early on with a jovial set from the recently re-united (their first show in nearly ten years) local legends K-OTIX. While Houston rap has been closely related to the chopped and screwed era of the late '90s and early '00s, K-OTIX managed to make a name for themselves outside of the UGK/Fat Pat/DJ Screw/Mike Jones/Paul Wall/Chamillionaire scene that helped put our fair city on the musical map.
With a style very similar to other '90s and '00s alternative hip-hop acts like Jurassic 5 and De La Soul, K-OTIX manage to take the bitches and hoes, sizzurp and cocaine out of their music, and add meaningful lyric after meaningful lyric. I'm not sure what took these guys ten years to make it back on a Houston stage, but whatever it was, that long stalemate is thankfully over.
They put on, in my opinion, the performance of the evening, even with the headliners bringing their all not too long after. Hopefully, this isn't the last we'll be hearing from them -- by the crowd reaction to their set, it looks K-OTIX may be back entertaining again soon.
The Pharcyde, which now consists of only two of the original four members, took the stage rather unassumingly, jumping into their set without much hoopla just after midnight. Imani and Bootie Brown were super-energetic from the get-go, jumping around the stage to their first few songs while the crowd gently bobbed their heads along to the beat.
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Joined by DJ Big Wiz, who can normally be seen behind the decks with Aesop Rock, the Pharcyde managed to squeeze every last bit of energy out of the troopers who made it through the hip-hop melee they were put through last night, which lasted more than four hours.
The set was everything you'd expect from a group like The Pharcyde. The crowd were really into every last bit of the set - one that featured hit after hit from the LA MC's. "Ya Mama" came early, "Runnin'" was the next crowd-pleaser, "Drop" hit at just the right time, and set-closer "Passing Me By" found the most hands in the air.
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Even at a quarter past one in the morning, when eyes were getting sleepy, everyone remaining put in their all until the very end. The night came to a close with a few words of thanks from the duo and shout-outs to friends and family, sending the crowd off into the night surely getting their money's worth.
It was a treat to finally see the Pharcyde for the first time, even if it was only half of the original group. One day, hopefully, they'll all be back together again on the same stage, but I've been asking that of A Tribe Called Quest for quite some time and am still yet to see that happen.
Besides that one time Phife got up with Tip at Outside Lands a few years ago. That shit was dope.
Personal Bias: While I was only a youngster when "Passing Me By" came out, and was thinking more about riding bikes, watching Jurassic Park for the 20th time and playing Doom II, hip-hop eventually came to me at full force not too long after. The Pharcyde were one of my early favorites, and have remained close to my heart for many years now.
Overheard In the Crowd: "If y'all have Instagram, get your phones out. Let's try a little experiment. Sorry, no Android, only iPhone users need apply." - K-OTIX "Awwwwwww man, I better put mine away." -some unhappy guy in the crowd who really wanted to participate
The Crowd: A mixed bag of Houston's finest hip-hop heads. Random Notebook Dump: I'm 6'1 (6'2 with the boots I had on) and was taller than 96 percent of the crowd. It made taking pictures pretty damn easy.
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