Never worried about the status-quo, The Pharcyde has always been unafraid of breaking new ground. We recently caught up to Romye of the newly reinvented group, to give us an update on their new album, Plain Rap, and music in general.
HHS: Your music has always been full of life. But since the last album, y’all seem to have taken a more spiritual direction with this one. What was the cause?
Romye: Just you know, dealing with the everyday. Just getting older, I mean when we first got on Bizarre Ride, we wasn’t really in the music industry. It was just our thoughts free from whatever. But once we stepped in the game, it just became a whole real different trip. Basically, we write from our lives. It’s not like I write from another man’s life, or I’m writin’ a story or some other stuff. Its basically from our life. That’s just what I write, what’s been goin’ on. Other members, I’m pretty sure, they feel the same, you know?
HHS: Speaking of other members, did you maybe gain more creative freedom since other members stepped out, and your dealing with indie labels now?
Romye: As far as Fat Lip, he likes the record label, as far as how people are, just being in the record business in general. Just you know, being an artist on a record label, getting your budget, go through your album, and that’s how he wanted to do it. I just felt totally different. There was just different feelings as far as how to do things. You know? Just as far as on coming out, and then as far as music, and then actually making a song, that’s a whole another thing. It was just like a lot of differences on just where he saw how he wanted the group to go, and how we saw how we wanted the group to go. Bizarre Ride was one album…but it was tampered with, you know what I’m sayin ? Basically Bizarre Ride was tampered with, due to we didn’t have enough time, and people saying, “This is cool, this isn’t cool, this isn’t cool.” Even though people heard Bizarre Ride, it lacked, just starting out the gate because of a lot of things we had to just compromise and give up. You know?
HHS: It seems you have more control over this CD…
Romye: We didn’t have more control, but it was just the songs, I mean, at the time, we just making the songs how we wanted to make the songs. How can someone tell you how to make a song, if their not really putting into the album to try to make it. We was basically doing songs, because that’s what we do. We’re artists, besides if things are good, or things are bad, we came into this thing like, we just gotta stay in it and keep making songs. Because the people don’t really understand it. All they see is that this group has been gone, and as far as behind the curtain or what’s going on in the industry. I mean people don’t really see, and people don’t really care too much, I really believe. You know?
HHS: It seems like you guys took a real simple approach, you just concentrated on your music more than anything…
Romye: Yeah definitely. Bizarre Ride, when we came in, a lot of people got lost. A lot of people was like, “What the fuck is this? What are we supposed call this? What is this? These fools are yellin’ and screamin’ …”. Even though some people liked it, it lost a lot of people. I think like a lot of people couldn’t catch on to it. So not necessarily I want to give in to the masses. But if you want people to buy it, you kinda got to make music for the people to understand. It’s kinda hard, I just say that simplicity is the hardest thing to do. To make something simple, but get your point across, that’s like hella-hard to do. If you can get across in two words what it takes somebody a whole sentence to do, then that’s hella-dope. Cuz that take whole lot of thinking to say, “Okay, how am I gonna get this person to react.” Like to a one word title, like how we did…I wanted to leave it open for the mind to think a little more, but also keep it simple so people can be like, “This song is ‘Trust’ , so it’s about trust, or this song is “Frontline”, so its about the front-line.” But then, actually take it a little more deeper than that, because basically you have so many definitions for the one word, you can just take it all sorts of different places.
HHS: Were you guys really worried about getting any radio play?
Romye: Naw, because we really never got that type of radio play. “Passin’ Me By” , kinda hit a little radio play, and “Runnin’” hit a little radio play…But we never really were that real radio, or that car-bumpin’ group. I think if you going on a hella-of a long trip, people wanna put on The Pharcyde, people wanna just listen the whole album and trip…But there never was like, that one song, as far as like a DMX, you got that one song you just hear everywhere. Its just bumpin’ , and radios just can’ t get enough of it, and you got people requesting it. We never really had that type of song. I mean sale-wise…I mean “Passin’ Me By” never went gold, and “Runnin’” sold more than “Passin’ Me By”. Its completely different as far as if I went by numbers, and if I went by what people say.
HHS: You guys broke ground for groups like Jurassic 5, and Dilated Peoples. Do you think those groups along with you guys will have more influence on hip-hop? Or do you think the spoon-fed, glossy, baby-thuggish raps will still be the influence?
Romye: Oh, I think that’s always gonna be the major influence. Sex and violence, that’s what’s selling. The industry is definitely gonna blow it up. It takes a lot to just blow up something positive…It takes time cuz, most people don’t want to hear that type of music… That’s why I say there’s a hell of a fine line, because you could be preaching to the people. They don’t wanna be preached to, they like, “Man, I don’t wanna hear that shit, I don’t wanna hear nobody telling me what I should do. I want to go the party, I want someone talkin’ about freakin’ on the girls..” whatever. I can’t even hate that though. As far as the industry, I don’t think they’ll ever have Mos Def with Jay-Z, or De La with like Cash Money…I don’t think it’ll ever be like that.
HHS: Nowadays everybody seems to work with everybody. Making their CD looking like a compilation album, and the discs seeming cluttered. It was refreshing to see you guys only work with only a few guests on this one…
Romye: We had worked with a lot of people, like with…Pharoahe Monche, De La, Mos, Cocoa Brovaz, and we worked with a lot of people on the album. After it was time for it to come out, we was like, we couldn’t do this, we’ve been gone so long. I just figured that if we done that, we’ll be kind of going out, cuz we’re not standing on our own coming back out. So I feel like now, if we did it after album came out, people won’t look at it like that. But as far as comin’ out the gate, I don’t want to be riding off of anybody else’s. I just want to stamp it into people’s head, Pharcyde first…
HHS: Naw, it was kinda nice for once to have someone come out original…
Romye: But than again, we had Black Thought, just to show that we do work with people, and we don’t have our head in our asses. And so people wont think we like, “We the shit, fuck everybody else.” You know what I’m sayin’” ?
HHS: Who was the girls singing on the hooks?
Romye: We had a girl named Deanna, she works with Tre. We had a girl named Dena Ray, she’s from Eminem’s camp…Oh, Dawn, she worked on some stuff. They was kind of like girls that we knew from back in the day. Dawn, was kind of like part of Jazzyfatnastees before they kind of went out to Philadelphia. Deanna, she used to like dance back in the day. Me and Imani used to be dance teachers, and she took the dance class, and now her whole thing is singing. So we was like, “Yo, let’s try to do something.” It just worked out, it was cool. We just did some things.
HHS: I personally liked this album more than the others…
Romye:…You’re gonna start some arguments with that! That’s cool that you liked it. Like a lot people feel like, “Yo, we want that Bizarre Ride.”. I just try to tell people that I’m just way older. For me to try to come out like that…it’d be played out to actually come out on that vibe, and do a hell of a lot of skits on your album, that whole vibe of doing stuff like that is kind of played to me…Its just gonna have to be different.
HHS: Well, Labcabincalifornia felt like you were in transition, with the new album, it finally felt like you got out of it…
Romye: We didn’t do too much production on Labcabin, not saying that was the fault, but sometimes when you go outta your camp and do other production, sometimes there’s an element missing out of your music. Basically, somebody else is bringing something else to the music. Not saying that I don’t like to work with other producers…I mean, its always good to work with other producers as far as just making an album. You can just get stuck in a rut, as far as one person doing your album. Just working with other people, it just keeps more spice in the album to me. This time we didn’t venture out too much. We worked with Showbiz, and we worked with couple other producers. A lot of stuff didn’t make the album as far as working with all the people that we had worked with. The music that you hear was from people that was within. People like Tre, me, his cousin, and J-Swift. So there wasn’t a lot of people.
HHS: With some members leaving, what made y’all stay together, instead of going for solo albums?
Romye: The whole plan was to follow formats to certain groups…Tre got soured in the whole thing as far as the process of waiting. Fat Lip, like I said, was never down with the whole independent thing. He kinda likes the label situation. You just don’ t have hands-on in everything. Someone’s gonna do this for you, someone’s gonna do that for you. I just didn’t want to go out like that…This album’s gonna be released, Tre’s already released his stuff. He changed his name to something like The Legend of Phoenix, he kind of sells his stuff over the Internet. Fat Lip is going to release his album supposedly like March. It was suppose to be like March of this year, but I guess its gonna be March of next year. Imani’s is gonna come after this one…Hopefully after everything is done, I’m gonna do an EP, maybe with all the guest appearances that we didn’t have on the album. I think I’m gonna let the company work with this album.
HHS: I’m sure your asked this all the time, but what is the possibility, if any, of a reunion with all the original members?
Romye: I would say if it would happen right now, it would have to be for a whooooole lot of paper! It’s just not that type of atmosphere right now, we just talk to each other like that. I think that just has to be established first, before we started working. Once we do that, you gotta be on tours, you live with these people once again. Right now, its been hell of a hard work just to get this far. For me to just to step back…It would be a hell of a back step for me right now…I can’t see that as a plus…Right now I think we all got something to prove ourselves. Fat Lip gotta prove to himself like, “Okay I can do this album.”
We all just gotta prove to ourselves like, “Okay, maybe The Pharcyde does good, maybe it doesn’t.” From there we’d be like, “Aw, man, we fucked up, we should of did this, we should of did that.” I don’t it’ll be too late for us to do that. For us to just real force it right now…It would just be a force. I’m not trying to force anything back together like that. It just makes it sooo difficult when you go in and try to just make the thing you’re supposed to do, which is songs, you know?
HHS: What do you think y’all have planned in the future?
Romye: Right now, I’d just say take it slow, I’m not trying to do a whole bunch. Actually, I’m still trying to master the record making business..
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