Uncle Imani & Bootie Brown of The Pharcyde in L.A.'s Chinatown
Words by jaythreeoh. Photos by Scott Stewart.

Yesterday, our channel-partners at Revivalist dropped this exclusive interview with Uncle Imani and Bootie Brown, the two remaining members of golden era West Coast hip-hop outfit The Pharcyde. The duo have been silent on the changes in classic group’s line-up for years, but chose Okayplayer as the outlet to tell their story. To read part 1–including the untold story of how the classic beat for “Passin’ Me By” was made and the initial split that left Imani and Brown holding a whole lot of unpaid bills and the legal rights to the name The Pharcyde–below.

>>>Read Part 1 (via Revivalist)

Read part 2 after the jump.

In 2008, Brown and Imani were again approached by Tré, this time with Fatlip along.  They were proposing the quartet reunite for the Rock the Bells Festival.  This being an event famous for bringing broken hip-hop acts together for onstage reunions, Imani and Brown were somewhat interested, but still leery.  (“From the beginning, [Brown] was saying, ‘This shit is doomed!’” says Imani.)

They hadn’t been in correspondence with Tré and ‘Lip, and wanted to get the conversation back on a functional level before diving back into working together.  They thought about maybe even pushing it back to the following year to perform at the annual event.  But, the longer they took to decide, the more “the pressure was going down.”

“Fools be thinking we be on some hater shit!” says Imani.  “And, it don’t even be no hater shit.  It just be like, sometimes, some things just ain’t in our best interest, y’know what I mean?  It may be in the best interest of some people, but it just don’t be in the best interest of us.  So, It ain’t like we be hatin’, but we just gotta make decisions that’s gonna be in the best interest of us, Imani and Bootie Brown.”

They also had an issue with the way the contract was laid out.

“There were obvious holes that I can see with the contract,” explains Brown.  “I was like, man… we don’t need to sign this.  It’s not right; it’s not complete.  Like, it’s there, but it’s not complete.  There are some things that we just need to make sure of.”

This didn’t sit too well with the two semi-rejoined members.  He continues:

“Tré’s manager listens to the [Rock the Bells management] who say, ‘Hey, if you guys don’t sign this, you guys aren’t gonna be a part of the [Festival].’  Now, everybody starts getting mad, like, ‘You gotta sign this!  You gotta sign!  You’re messing with the money!’”

Keeping in tune with their ideas of using the Pharcyde as a vehicle to help them Ride even further, Imani and Brown rethought the situation.  While the two-member Pharcyde was hesitant to get back into business with former band mates, Brown, along with their longtime manager and friend, parlayed their Rock the Bells appearance into a lucrative, longer term hustle, deeming it beneficial for them to participate.  However, since there was still some “back child support” to be paid from when Slimkid3 and Fatlip left their baby, the contract was made to divvy the income portions in favor of Imani and Brown.

The idea was to recoup a portion of the bills they were left to bear when the group split.  But, the longer term hustle meant that after the uneven split from the initial Rock the Bells Festival money, there would be other show dates in which the pay would be equal.  This seemed to be amicable and agreed upon by all, as Tré and ‘Lip appeared so intent on the contracts being signed.

After the Festival, the foursome continued to do one-off shows at spot dates together for several months.  But, it was certainly not all the way live, as Brown and Imani often caught themselves standing, looking stupid, wondering why it’s got to be like that.

When it came to showing up for rehearsals, Tré would now be looking for complimentary rentals and hotel stays to come from where he lived to where they held practice sessions.  Fatlip was busy gigging as a DJ and working on his Serato skills.  Both Tré and ‘Lip went back to what they used to say about whose name signs the checks.  (“They would say, ‘You guys don’t pay me,’” says Brown, “’[Delicious Vinyl head] Mike Ross pays me.’”)  Though there were four members again, it started to feel like it was still just a duo, as the duo seemed to be the only ones focused on the Pharcyde.  This, again, started to wear on them.

“It’s just, like, a hard pill to swallow every time you deal with somebody that just kind of flips the switch like that,” says Brown.

But, apparently, ‘Lip and Tré were beginning to feel the switch had been flipped on them, bringing back up the uneven paper distribution during the Rock the Bells Festival.  Imani and Brown feel their actions were justified.

“Before the papers were signed,” says Brown, “and before everything was done, the reasons were clearly stated.”

He says the contract spelled out how the split was going to be for the Festival dollars, and there were no objections.  Even after their initial reservations delayed the agreements being finalized, Tré’s manager made a special house call to make sure the contracts were signed.

“What I’m telling you is,” he continues, “not only did they know [how the payouts were being divided], but they were pressuring me to sign the contract!” he laughs.  “It wasn’t nothing that was sneaked in on them, or anything of that nature that they didn’t know.”



  • it’s a shame groups go throw things like this. not just any group, but them dudes who brought you funky classics like “Soul Flower”, “Passin’ Me By”, “Othafish”. You go back and listen to those records like “fuck the beef, still had some dope joints”.

  • bd


  • J

    …Wish I could say I was shocked…seen this one a million times…phat tracks don’t mean shit when your business partner’s incompetence is preventing you from feeding your kids…

  • dustedalmight

    I understand the fans want to see them together, I don’t understand prolonging what may or may not be the pharcyde. Like what if Ish “Butterfly” was trying to maintain the Digable Planets name? Ok that’s a totally different circumstance but I’m just saying if he was we wouldn’t have Shabazz Palaces

  • moookie

    Bootie and Imani should juss join forces with Onra or ski beats or dj rectangle or dj babu or madlib or 9th wonder or georgia anne mudrow or eric lau on production and make an album under a new name. The fans will still be there and appreciate the new shyt even more. Truss me. The Pharcyde will always be 4 ppl. Reinvent themselves and start over.

    • Del Scorcho

      That would be THE SHIT if The Pharcyde (the current roster) linked up with Onra…I DARE those three to do just one single “experiment” collaboration, unleash it upon the townsfolk, then ANYONE (who is a legit Pharcyde fan) come and tell me that that shit ain’t absolut dope.

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  • Sad ass story…
    Real talk….has anybody notice how J Dilla breaks up groups.
    I’m not saying “Dilla” had something to do with it personally, but maybe his light shines on the secrets that people be having when they work with him.

    • K Samson

      Nah…However, there was a interview Imani did back in 2010 where he mentioned that Fatlip didn’t care for some of Dilla’s production; particularly “Drop” which is why he didn’t perform on that track. Still, Fatlip killed “Runnin'”, Somethin’ that mean somethin'” and “Y?” And Face it “She Said (Jay Dee Mix)” is a classic love hip-hop track. The production on that song is incredible. Moreover, those dudes were doomed before Dilla arrived. Same goes for Tribe and Slum Village…

      People just grow apart for many reasons. Look at Fugees. They took home grammys and sold hella records and look at them…they all split Little Brother broke up too. Even The Roots dealt with changes in their roster from Malik B leaving cause of his addiction, Scott Storch wanting to produce solo, Hub pursuing other endeavors, etc.

      Basically, people grow apart and that was the case with the Pharcyde no doubt. It does suck because they were one of the illest groups out and possibly ever.

  • Pingback: Uncle Imani & Bootie Brown Reveal The Pharcyde Story W/ Part 2 Of Their Okayplayer Interview // Link // | Culture King()

  • Anon.

    Wait … did you just call them “the real Pharcyde”? Seriously? Don’t drink the Kool-Aid Okayplayer. The REAL Pharcyde has 4 people in it.

    • RL

      Exactly…what’s this REAL PHARCYDE ish?!!!! Knock it off. 4 members…as long as the stay separate the PHARCYDE is still officially DORMANT and non-functioning.

  • Steve!

    Some real good points echoed in everyone’s comments. The realiest thing said is that sometimes people just grow apart for one reason or another. It happens in relationships, jobs and families all the time. If all parties don’t have that sincere authentic passion for what made it great in the first place, it will never be successful again. It always amazes me when people feel like they don’t need you anymore, we have to remember that sometimes it was those same people that helped us get to that high point. Whatever the reasons these guys feel justified in their beliefs and opinions, truthfully that’s all that matters no regardless of what we would like to see. Popularity has an expiration date but greatness is everlasting. Glad I saw 3 out of 4 members ROCK THE SHOW last year at the OneMusicFest in Atlanta last year!!!!!

  • Rudy Torres

    For the fans it’s a disappointing when you pay to see a show and it’s only half the group, no matter which half of Pharcyde it is. Promoters have a lot to do with it the way they bill the show too. Like when you buy a ticket to an Alkaholiks show and it’s just drunk ass Tash. There’s no Liks without J-Ro.

  • Tokewell

    It’s like Gun’s n’ Roses tragic. Fat Lip doing his best Axl Rose impression….No one or two persons are bigger than the band. Except..Beyonce and Justin Timberlake LOL.

  • Rameses Sorrell

    Its gonna happen one day Amen!