On The Pharcyde

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

One of our least well known local music venues has to be the Black Box Cabaret, run by the Students’ Union at CSUMB.  Each week, the BBC presents a number of events featuring local bands as well as well-known names.  If you choose to make the drive out to the former Fort Ord site this Friday, you can enjoy an evening of hip-hop courtesy of the Pharcyde and local band Para La Gente.

The Pharcyde was formed in the late 1980s by four dancers and choreographers from Los Angeles’ club circuit.  Derrick “Fatlip” Stewart, Imani Wilcox, Tre “Slimkid” Hardson and Romye “Booty Brown” Robinson were coached by a local music teacher and learned about recording and performing.  In 1992 the Pharcyde released its debut album, “Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde,” which won the group legions of fans for its wacky humor as well as its music.  The album went on to be a gold seller and earned the band support slots on national tours with groups such as De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. 

After releasing its second album, “Labcabincalifornia,” in 1994, the Pharcyde went on a 5-year hiatus, during which time Stewart pursued a solo career.  The band reunited in 2000 to release “Plain Rap,” but in the next few years Stewart and Hardson both left the band, citing musical differences.  However, they both did contribute to the band’s latest album, 2004’s “Humboldt Beginnings,” so we may not have seen the last of the Pharcyde’s original line-up.  Friday’s performance will feature Wilcox and Robinson.

Opening for the Pharcyde will be Para la Gente, a band with strong local connections.  Para la Gente, which means “For the People,” plays socially conscious hip-hop, soul and rock music.  The band was formed in 2002 by three CSUMB students as the result of a jam session at a party.  Sitting around in vocalist Mike Hernandez’s (aka MC Change) apartment, Leon Gomez got out his guitar and began to play.  Hernandez began improvising lyrics, and thus the band began.  Zachary Stahl, Hernandez’s roommate at the time, joined as a second guitarist and Para la Gente was born.

Para la Gente was featured on the recent CSUMB compilation CD “Unexploded Ordinance,” and also recorded a four-track demo CD earlier this year.  The band has been featured on local radio and has opened for several well-known Bay Area groups.  Para la Gente has recently expanded its line-up to include Teresa Lindsay on vocals and Omar Murillo on drums, with Stahl switching from guitar to bass.  The group is looking forward to getting out and playing more shows in the New Year, and bringing its message of open dialogue and social justice to a wider audience.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, December 1, 2005

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