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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Pharcyde Works Mirth Into Its Message

August 25, 1995|CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

Los Angeles rap group the Pharcyde had a blast Wednesday at the House of Blues, where it performed before an equally amused crowd. The energetic, hourlong set was short but sweet, highlighted by the group's wit and its ability to work the audience into dancing, singing and laughing. Not many rap acts can do all three in concert.

The four rappers proved two things about rap concerts: You don't have to slow things down when you incorporate jazz and melodies into hip-hop, and you don't have to become a gangsta when you speed things up and put an edge to the beats.

The Pharcyde was able to keep the fun and energy going without losing rap's appealing hard edge. This was no candy outfit. The humor was crass and the topics were fresh from the realities of today--the group just finds it more fitting to laugh than scowl.

None of the rappers tried to stand out from the others, and they all bounced their words off each other with perfection. The deejay and recorded rhythms, meanwhile, kept a lot going on behind the rapping--much in the style of Public Enemy--without ever reaching the point of distraction.

The group offered a few previews from its upcoming sophomore album, due in October, along with favorites from its 1993 debut, "Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde." The mix of songs was excellent, and the old ones were just as crafty and intelligent as the new. Well, almost--topping the cleverness of "Ya Mama" and "Passin' Me By" is hard to do.

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