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Pharcyde Runs Out of Energy on 'Plain Rap'

November 17, 2000|SOREN BAKER

** THE PHARCYDE

"Plain Rap"

Delicious Vinyl/Edel America

In the early 1990s, this Los Angeles-based hip-hop group expressed a lively optimism that helped it become one of the region's only credible non-gangster acts. On its third album, that early energy has disappeared, with rappers Imani, Slim Kid3 and Booty Brown sounding uninspired as they deliver their lyrics without much of the inflection and flair that made the group's earlier material memorable.

Songs such as "Misery" and "Rush" don't live up to their names, instead coming off as middle-of-the-road cuts. The album's better selections ("Network," "Trust") are average at best, failing to match the impression made by the group's early hits such as "Passing Me By" and "Drop."

When the group--which headlines the Knitting Factory Hollywood on Wednesday--explored heartbreak and betrayal in its older work, its music enhanced the lyrics. But the beats on "Plain Rap" plod along, with grooves better suited for a lounge act than a hip-hop band. Unfortunately for the Pharcyde, this album lives up to its title.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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