Legendary Los Angeles hip hop group The Pharcyde released their sophomore album, LabcabinCalifornia, on November 14, 1995. 20 years later, They're revisiting the material with a new deluxe edition of the album available on streaming services (above on Spotify) and a DJ Spinna mixtape (below on SoundCloud).
LabcabinCalifornia is an experimental, introspective album that shows the group working through problems and doing their thing on excellent signature tracks like "Runnin," "Drop," "Somethin' That Means Somethin," "Groupie Therapy," "She Said," "Splattitorium," "Y," "Moment in Time," and "Devil Music." In some ways, The Pharcyde were closer musically to gritty NYC groups than their contemporaries in their hometown of LA, as the album samples recordings by A Tribe Called Quest, Run-DMC, Queen Latifah, the Beastie Boys, and the Wu-Tang Clan. The Pharcyde also pioneered elements that would be incorporated into some of the great Atlanta hip hop that would come later.
The album was an artistic achievement that helped introduce a young producer named J Dilla (known at the time as Jay Dee) who would go on to be one of the most influential and respected beatmakers of all time. However, it was a commercial disappointment that got less favorable reviews than the group's 1992 debut album, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. There isn't a crossover pop hit like "Passin' Me By," but there is a lot of excellent old school hip hop. 20 years later, the album holds up as a triumph of real talk lyricism over creative, hard-hitting grooves built on a heady mix of jazz, funk, and soul.
Here's the official description of the Deluxe Edition of the album:
Disc One features the original record from start to finish. Disc Two collects all the instrumentals including the Jay Dee beats for “Runnin’” and “Drop” as well as his instrumental remix of “She Said.” The third disc compiles the remixes and ‘B-Cydes’ including the fan favorite “Emerald Butterfly.”
The original album has gotten mixed reviews (some of which are pretty bad), but fans of The Pharcyde, Jay Dilla, and chilled out hip hop should definitely take some time to check it out. The Pharcyde shared a 20th Anniversary retrospective on their official website that's worth checking out, too.
In addition to the bonus tracks on the deluxe edition of the album, The Pharcyde teamed up with NYC's DJ Spinna, of "the international soulful house music scene," to put together a captivating mixtape tribute to the album featuring previously unheard remixes and a previously unreleased song called “Nasty Habits” recorded with Ralph Tresvant & Bobby Brown:
LabcabinCalifornia #BeamMeUpSpinna 20th Anniversary Mixtape Tracklist
The mixtape is a fun listen, and worthy companion to the album. In addition to the tracklist, they shared information about some other DJs involved:
Dj Mike Relm re-works a mash up of “Drop,” SBBX remixes “Groupie Therapy,” Moka Only drops his version of “Y,” Ta'Raach teams up with Bootie Brown to co-produce “Devil Music, The Devils Kitchen Remix,” and The Pharcyde’s own Bootie Brown remixes “Runnin’.”
Crate diggers and lovers of classic early '90s underground hip hop should enjoy the chilled out tracks, while young hip hop producers and MCs should take notes.