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 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.”