In the early '90s, the Pharcyde was the Cali counterpart of De La Soul, spreading inventive, Daisy Age-style silliness across the West Coast -- and later, throughout the country, on the successful albums Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
(which featured the classic chill-out single "Passin' Me By") and Labcabincalifornia
. Those efforts and a spot on the 1994 Lollapalooza tour showed that there was a ready market for the quartet's lack of regard for hip-hop convention. But by the time they returned in 2000, their accurately titled comeback Plain Rap
revealed up front that the group's playful bucking of the system was a thing of the past.
Now, although there have been rumors of a full-scale reunion encouraged by the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams, there are just two original members carrying the Pharcyde torch (former In Living Color dancers Imani Wilcox and Bootie Brown). And on the group's 2004 comeback, Humboldt Beginnings, that torch is frequently used for lighting blunts. If it's still a phar cry from the Pharcyde's lighthearted heyday, the ganjacentric album -- released on the indie label Chapter 1 Entertainment -- at least acknowledges the stoned-soul picnic that inspired the band's greatest moments.