Exclusive Interview With The Pharcyde's Imani

RnB/Hip Hop | Friday 1st April 2016 | Osh

Having built a reputation as one of the most respected hip hop groups today, we touched base with the team behind hits like Runnin' and Passing Me By ahead of their performance at The Electric Ballroom.

Describe your current state or mind in five words or less?

My current state of mind, Blessed to be alive. What a time to be alive.

So you’re living in LA, can you see the Hollywood sign from your balcony?

Hell naw, man, I live 30 east of downtown Los Angeles, so I gotta drive at least 20 minutes before I can even think about seeing the sign, it’s not too far, it’s down yonder over the horizon.

But I have no doubt you’re living well though, right?

Well, man, right now it is 85 degrees and it is 3 O’clock in the afternoon time, so I’m just chilling.



You came out watching early greats like LL Cool J and BDP, and you wanted to follow in the footsteps of being great, and now you are great, and how does that make you feel?

I was always great, my mother told me how great I was and my grandmother used to tell me how great I was. I’ve been great since birth, I’m not even being arrogant or nothing, we all have an innate ability to create and it’s just about being recognised for your talent but each and every human on this planet is great, and it’s just about focusing in on your talent and then presenting it to the Earth.

What was the first thing you were great at?

I was always great at making people laugh, and making people feel comfortable and expressing myself, I was always great as a child at expressing myself, that’s what people would tell me, and I could always interpret a rhythm, and what I did better than everybody, was do me, and that’s not even the same because a lot of people look at other people and they want be other people and they don’t realise how great they are themselves and they try their whole lives trying to chase to be someone else and not realising that the person that’s the best person they can be is in the mirror.



With that attitude, do you think you’ve made some people see how great they are during your life?

I think so, I think that people can see that we’re comfortable in our own skin and we’re comfortable doing the things that we know best, and as an example people will say, “you know what, if they can be themselves, I can be myself” and anything that somebody can get out of our music is amazing, you’re just making music because you want to make music, ya know? Some people do it to be political and some people are doing it because they want to make money, ya know? We were doing it to have fun, and we wanted to make money and we wanted to be remembered in Hip-Hop, ya know what I mean? And all that shit happened.

It must feel good, right?

Naw, man, it feels great, it feels great! No one knows how to do it, and then when it’s done, you’re just dumbfounded, cause you’re just like, “I wish I had the secret ingredient,” but I think the secret ingredient is having a good team, everybody knowing what their position is on the team, everybody working hard and a little timing, I think that’s the secret ingredient.

Can you give a secret for keeping your team together?

No, there’s no secret to keeping the team together, cause no team stays together forever. You can think of the best team ever, whether it’s age, pride, a woman, there’s so many things that can take a team out, everything is temporary, and so when you’re doing stuff you have to be in the now so when it’s done, you’re not like, “Oh, I wish I did it like this,” or, “I shoulda did it like that”,  you’re not tripping, man, you’re ready to move on to whatever’s next.

I want to ask a question, because I know one of your classics, everyone knows this tune, what do you think everyone’s running away from?

The truth, because you can’t handle the truth! People don’t want the truth, man, as soon as you give them the truth, they want something else, like whatever they have, people want something else, and everybody’s running away from something, ya know, different things, some people are running away from responsibilities, some people are running away from being honest with themselves, ya know what I mean?

Just shit that eventually you’re gonna have to deal with, and instead of running, you might as well just hunker down and get whatever you need to make it happen and deal with that shit.



So I think one way you must’ve changed a lot of lives is, you guys must’ve brought a lot of people into Hip-Hop, what do you think?

You would have to go on the streets and ask those questions to the fans, I don’t know what people are doing when they’re not at the shows, maybe it’s only Hip-Hop fans at the shows, I don’t know how to answer that, I honestly couldn’t answer that, but Hip-Hop was born when we got into it, and you had groups like A Tribe Called Quest, Digital Underground, NWA, BDP and Will Smith.

I mean come on, we came after Will Smith, and when you ask me that question, and I look at all the people that are bigger than us and greater than us and made a bigger splash in Hip-Hop, it’s honestly hard for me to say, because from where I’m standing, shit, Hip-Hop is humongous!

Yeah, but I gotta give you props for your area though, you came out and you were original and that gives you a whole side and a whole area of this game, that’s yours forever.

So you’re not saying necessarily how big, you’re saying that we’re more like a cult following and we made a splash in an area where something was missing. I just named all the people, and all these things were on TV and stuff like, living colour, Hip-Hop is such a phenomenon that it’d be difficult for me to say that we made it bigger. Maybe where you’re from Hip-Hop was different, but in America, it was fucking coming outta everywhere, and it seemed like it couldn’t get any bigger, and here’s the part that’ fucking killing me, when I was 14-15, everybody was doing something like breakdancing, etc. and from that moment it has fucking snowballed and has grown to the size of the moon.

We were doing a lot of stuff, I’m not saying we didn’t open doors and stuff, but we just jumped on this Hip-Hop wave that was just growing. It was growing so big, that there was only a couple of slots for so many artists and then there were just more and more slots and we just filled a slot up. I mean, shit, they were doing Hip-Hop movies, clothing, video games. MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Salt N Pepa, Jay-Z, Biggie, Tupac, ya know what I mean? This shit just don’t stop.

We’re weirdoes, we’re alternative motherfuckers, we’re like Hip-Hoppers, but we’re not the everyday Hip-Hoppers, so it was a gang of people like us that was looking to be like, “I’m like them, they’re like me” you can identify, there were no groups like us, there’s Tribe, but we were for L.A. and we smoked weed, we cussed a lot, we were different from them, ya know? They were like PG, and I’m not saying they weren’t PG in real life, but for whatever reason at the time, the record was made early, and we’re like the evolution of that, some shit talking motherfuckers from Cali.

So what’s new for you now?

Let me break it down for you, in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s there was no such thing as 40 year olds, 50 year olds, 60 year old beat boys, DJs and MCs, and now it’s just like, “dawg, there’s senior citizen rappers!” and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just saying it’s something that you’re not used to seeing, and they say that Hip-Hop starts in the youth, but now it’s not even a youth thing, so it’s like, everybody’s tryna figure out what’s happening here, and our whole life we were young and cool and what we thought was fresh was fresh and now there’s a whole 'nother generation of motherfuckers coming up and we’re not fresh and what we play ain’t shit, but now, what I’m doing right now is, keeping the spirit alive through Hip-Hop music but understanding that I’m no long a child and I’m a grown man and there’s a place in this Hip-Hop world for grownups and to be comfortable in that role and be a bit more informative on things, ya know?

There’s music for ever situation, but ever music you make it not gonna be for the party, ever music you make is not gonna be for the strip club, but we need strip club music! We need party music! So it’s like, I love that shit, but I don’t want that to only be what Hip-Hop is, I want it to be informative, like when you used to listen to Public Enemy, but I love WNA and they still have that ignorance, ya know, Hip-Hop is everything and I hate it when they try to make it one thing, so my job is to make sure that it doesn’t stay one thing and always stay creative, and that’s what I want to do.



You’re in LA and LA’s known for making a lot of money from weed right now, when’s the Pharcyde breed of weed coming?

Weed is dope, man it’s a billion dollar industry in this cannabis community and there’s a lot of people in the Hip-Hop game that’s trying to get their foot in the door because they see it’s for real, it’s not a fad.I mean, you come out here and see who smokes weed, you’ll be like, “I don’t know who smokes weed, wait a minute, everybody smoked weed!”

There’s old people, there’s white people, there’s young people, there’s Mexicans, there’s Asians, there’s black people, there’s old ladies, there’s young ladies, like weed isn’t a youth thing, they always make it out like you gotta be smoking blunts, like your Cheech n Chong, like that is such an old stereotype of stoners and weedheads and shit, and I don’t hate it, but like I said, I hate it when everyone’s represented as one thing, like I wanna be shown that there’s a plethora of people and different people from different backgrounds that do different shit, like Hip-Hop isn’t for young dudes that dress a certain way, you don’t know who likes Hip-Hop.

I bet like Cypress Hill everywhere you go, people just walk up to you and give you weed, is that right?

Well, yeah, I can’t even front, I love that shit, man. I love that shit, cause it’s like, that’s how they feel love, I mean, they know how they feel about smoking weed, they know that we like to smoke weed and they know, damn, those are my dudes, I gotta make sure they got some herb when they come through so they don’t have to worry about customs, they don’t gotta worry about bringing anything, we’ll take care of our people, and I never went weedless, unless I didn’t want to smoke it.

Have you got a motto that you live by?

A motto, I have many mottos man, I have many mantras, I have many things that I roll with. I got so many, man, but one that I’ve been using lately really, love conquers all, love rules, it’s all about love for me, man, because my grandmother’s pretty much the lady who raised me with my mum, she just passed away, and she was so important to me, and all I can think about is how much love she gave me, how much she showed me love and I feel like that’s my job, to just show people love, be the understanding, be the wisdom, be the bigger person, be the ear, be the big brother, be the shoulder to cry on, sometimes people just need to talk.

I’m sorry to hear about her passing away, but I can feel that love.

Oh no, it’s a sad thing because she’s gone, but it’s a happy thing because she’s moved on to the next realm and that means I got somebody on the other side that’s looking out for me, so if anybody’s gonna be looking out for me, she’s gonna be looking out for me, and I don’t know what happens when you die, but they always say you go to a better place and all I can do is have faith that she went to a better place, so it’s all good.

You’re a father now, right?

No, I’m a grandfather, my oldest son blessed me with, my little Lotus, Lotus is her name and I don’t know how to react, I’m gushing, because I’m from Compton, I’m from the ghetto, I’m from the hood, and you don’t know what the world has to offer unless your parents show you or you’re blessed to be able to travel and shit, but when I was younger I didn’t know what the world had to offer and they always told me that I’m gonna be dead when I’m 21, or I’m gonna be in jail when I’m young or all the people I knew was either dying young or going to jail young.

So for me to make it to 45 and have travelled the world, I’m on my fourth passport, they don’t even stamp it anymore, and to have a grandchild I don’t know what to do with myself, I’m just trying to make music so when I’m dead there’s still shit to release and just be able to connect with me forever, man.

Is what the world has to offer, the greatness of the world one of the messages you want to pass over to your granddaughter?

What I want to pass onto my granddaughter is you gotta be smart, you gotta know patience and you gotta work hard and that translate no matter what language and no matter what kind of job, that always works. That translates to anything, hard work, love and patience and understanding.

I’ve always wanted to do this, can we just sing this together for a second?

What do you want me to sing, man?

She said...It'll be good if you stayed with me tonight so I granted her wish now Daddy's home but she's been waitin all night so we could be all alone (Oshi tries to sing with Pharcyde)