“This is airing out a lot of laundry,” The Pharcyde’s Slimkid3 says before the interview concludes. “Honestly, I just want shit to work. I don’t want to be mad at anybody. I feel like all of the negative is in the way of something beautiful.”
There’s a lot of what he refers to as negative. It’s been bubbling for years, tearing The Pharcyde apart. But it wasn’t always that way. Before that, it was beautiful.
Slimkid3 (f/k/a Tre Hardson and Slim Kid Tre) describes the crew as “a family,” saying they got along wonderfully before striking it big about 20 years ago with Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde.
“We hung out. We hung deep. Our shit was pretty fucking deep, to be honest with you,” he says when he reminisces about their friendship before stardom. “Real deep.”
That friendship allowed the group to create a critically acclaimed album full of humor and some relatable topics. In fact, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde has become such a revered album that Delicious Vinyl Records recently released a 3CD/7-inch vinyl boxset deluxe edition of the record. Their biggest hit, “Passing Me By” connected with people making their group a household name at the time but their personalities allowed them to shine on stage. They became peers with their heroes, created music on their terms and felt little could topple their newfound castle. Then, it fell apart, little by little.
This year, Fatlip and Slimkid hit the stage as The Pharcyde to perform Bizarre Ride live. It was a celebration of their accomplishments and the years of love the album has received. But there were pieces to the puzzle that were missing, significant pieces. The other two members, Bootie Brown and Imani, were not present.
In this interview, Slimkid discusses the reasons for their absence. He also touches on the success of The Pharcyde, the memories behind Bizarre Ride and the fall of the celebrated group. He explains his gripes with Imani and Brown as well as what they might feel he did wrong. In an open interview, Slimkid opens up and airs the laundry and says he hopes something positive comes from it all.
“You know how they say to drop the seed into the dirt and it has to struggle to become a flower?” he asks as he thinks about what he’s said in this interview. “I feel like we’ve been struggling through so much bullshit, so much negative talk, so much bad energy that something good has to come up. I want to see that good happen. I want to see that happen right now.”
Slimkid3 Speaks On Pharcyde Knowing “Passing Me By” Would Be A Hit
DX: When you look back at Bizarre Ride, what is your favorite memory of the recording process?
Slimkid3: My favorite memory of the recording process probably would be everybody hanging out together and talking about good times as a family. That was the best part of it, having all the jokes and just being a team.
DX: Is there a particular moment or song that stands out from that?
Slimkid3: I think “Passing Me By” was one of the strongest moments for us. There were a lot of strong moments but that stands out because everything about it was magical. From sitting around at the studio when the loop was looping in the hallways, to us focusing on writing to when we got to a real studio at Hollywood Sound and listening to it go from an eight-track tape to a two-inch tape and then just watching the magic grow. It went into us talking about concepts for the video. It was its own thing. We knew it was a hit.
DX: You knew automatically?
Slimkid3: Yeah. It wrote itself, pretty much. It came together perfectly. The chorus, the video being black and white and everything about it was perfect.
DX: When looking back, is there ever anything about the album or recording process that you would change?
Slimkid3: I wouldn’t change anything looking back. No. I wish we would have had more time to finish the last song that was supposed to be on there. It took us five months to make the record but we ran out of time because everything was scheduled for the release. It had to go to press and needed to get done so we had to stop.
DX: There’s so much to be said about the versatility of the album, the lyrics, it was relatable…Why do you think that album in particular resonated with fans the way it did?
Slimkid3: I think it resonated because it was different and it was funny. I’m not gonna lie. It was funny. I think we all thought it was not what we were looking for. We liked the East Coast sound and wanted our songs to bump harder and I don’t think we liked it as much as we liked it now. We were just being us. People took to it because it was lighthearted. I don’t know why people took to it. That’s what’s crazy. We wanted it to be a banger. We couldn’t understand how the East Coast sound hit so hard. But people who actually gravitated to it were the gangsters and hardcore cats. We did not get it. We didn’t understand why people took to it but they did. We were like, “Cool.” There were so many people that were better than us [pausing] Rap wise. To look back at our work, we were like, “Man. It’s not hardcore. At all.” [Laughing] But it was fun. It was fun being silly, joking and laughing and it was a breath of fresh air to everyone else. What really made us happy was when [A Tribe Called Quest] took to it and De La Soul took to it. Those were cats we looked up to. Even Biz Markie gave us love. Everyone in New York was on it. That was the stamp of approval. That helped us relax a little bit more and accept it. Even Leaders Of The New School, Busta Rhymes, everybody loved it. It was cool to get that East Coast stamp. We were looking for their approval at that point.
DX: You mention relief but was there also pressure to do it again?
Slimkid3: Yeah. There’s always pressure with a successful record. Everybody wants another Bizarre Ride. It’s so funny though because this was before the corporate takeover. It was before people that weren’t music people were in the music business. Why would you have a CEO from a soda company being the president of this music thing? It was before all of that. Music was so dope. The bar was so high. Now the bar is on the ground. People cared about the quality of music. When the corporations slipped in, they fucked everything up because they knew nothing about music and had no passion for it. If you had a hit, they were gonna make you make a hit just like it or get rid of you. But it was like, “Who are you? You’re not even a musician.”
DX: How did that affect you?
Slimkid3: During Bizarre Ride, we didn’t suffer from that but people wanted another Bizarre Ride record. But you have to be at a certain mind frame to make any record. That’s a hard one to match. It’s impossible. Overtime, we were more serious, still striving to get that East Coast sound and we wanted to make a Low End Theory [by A Tribe Called Quest]. We talked to Q-Tip. He was like, “I’ll work with you guys.” But he never got a chance to do that because he had other things he was working on. So he said, “I’ve got this cat Jay Dee.” It was J Dilla when his name was Jay Dee. So, we were like, “Jay Dee? Yeah, right.” We didn’t believe him. We didn’t know it was Jay Dee. We thought it was Q-Tip because his [government] name [Jonathan Davis] had J.D. in it too. We were like, “Man, this nigga is J.D.” We thought it was Q-Tip. We would hang out with Tip all the time. We went over to his apartment and he played us some loops Jay Dee had did. Incredible! We still thought it was Q-Tip under a different name.
But trying to make another Bizarre Ride never happened. The label we were on at the time put a little weight on our shoulders but we couldn’t get another Bizarre Ride. I think currently, we’re closer to getting a Bizarre Ride because we went through our serious times. As you get older in the business, you learn about the business and get jaded on all fronts. But enough time has gone by so we know who we’re fuckin’ with and who we’re not fuckin’ with. We’re lighthearted about things now because we’ve been bitter for years, for a long time. Now we’re at that “fuck it” point. Before Bizarre Ride was made, we were doing everything to get in the game. We didn’t have a deal. We were just emcees writing songs.
At one point, we went through a stage where we said, “Fuck it. Fuck everybody. If they like it, they like it. If they don’t, fuck them.” We started acting an ass. We got rejected by everyone so we were like, “Fuck it.” Next thing we know, Imani and Fat Lip went up North to a Hip Hop convention and they met Paul Stewart, Ras Kass, Hieroglyphics and they were doing their thing. They were freestyling in this hotel room and they did a song we wrote, “Ya Mama.” Everyone was buggin’ out. So, from there, Paul Stewart met with us and he corralled everyone that rejected us and got them to check us out. It was crazy but the first person to jump on it was Matt Jones from Motown [Records]. Matt Jones was hella cool, man. We were gonna go with Motown because Matt Jones was such a good person. He took us to dinner. We were like, “Dinner? Hell yeah! We can do this a lot.” So we started going to dinner with everybody! We were just trying to eat. We weren’t thinking shit was gonna pop off to be honest with you. The good thing about us not caring was that you couldn’t just throw money at us. We were really thinking about creative control and other acts on the label. Delicious Vinyl had the best offer, though. They were doing a compilation and all the heavyweights were on there. They were like, “We’ll put you on this compilation too.” They had a good roster. So we were like, “We’re gonna fuck with this company.” It felt good. It all felt good.
We jumped on board. The budget wasn’t super big but it was great for us. When we were recording, everything worked out. It wasn’t about the money. We had everything we needed. At first, we were in a shit-hole. Then, we were like, “This ain’t a real studio.” So we made them get us a better studio, which was Hollywood Sound. Who knows what our shit would have been if we stayed in that other studio. But it sounded better in a real studio. We went to Hollywood Sound and it was perfect. It was beautiful. There were different rooms to be in. There was a pool table and that was our heaven. We hung around the pool table, shooting the shit and competing against each other. It was such a magical place. Earth Wind & Fire recorded there. A lot of great people went through there and that vortex opened up for us too. I say vortex because there’s spiritual stuff in that place. I felt the spirits thee for sure. They were welcoming us and we were there for so long. Our recording bill was so big. It was the greatest experience. People are on ProTools now, but it was great to see the growth fom analog. It was quite an experience, man. I must say, nothing beats a two-inch reel. As a recording person, we’d have to wait for the tape to rewind. That was frustrating because I was in a zone but you would have to be patient. But that process and the finished product was amazing. To sit in front of music for as long as we did was just bananas. The process was amazing and beautiful, man. Nothing beats that.
It makes you appreciate. I’m looking at my gold record on the wall. I appreciate that, man. When I look at it, I’m like, “Why wasn’t it gold faster?” Then I look at it again and I remember the hard work. I remember the cassette tape samplers and being in San Francisco in a van, driving around, seeing hot girls and giving them tapes. We were driving around getting taste from different people and it all worked to make Bizarre Ride a gold record. I remember small shows. I remember Lollapalooza. I remember shows we had to do and we weren’t even gold yet. You have to do so much work. People have no idea and they think they’re the shit. They haven’t worked nearly as hard as someone who had to do real footwork. You don’t know a fucking thing about this industry. It takes a lot of hard work.
I remember yelling at marketing people. I remember looking at what they had and it was complete bullshit. They were bullshitting. You can tell when people are shitting you and taking advantage but at the end of the day, everything worked out. People that you yelled at got their shit together and people that yelled at you made you get your shit together. At the end of the day, it wasn’t about you. It was about the quality of the product. Those were the reasons we fought with fought so hard and argued or yelled at each other or people working with us. We wanted the best quality. That’s exactly what happened.
I read this analogy about sandpaper. People that treat you bad are sandpaper. At the end of the day, you become smoother but the sand paper becomes something that you throw away but you’re smooth. What a beautiful analogy. That’s what we made so we had good quality work and with the right people. It was cool to know the different between somebody who is about doing the work right and those are bullshitting you. Staring at my gold record, I get all these memories.
DX: You just said you guys are back to the same phase you were in while recording Bizarre Ride. What’s the status of the group?
Slimkid3: Well, minus two people in the group, Imani and Bootie Brown, everything is working really well. Years ago, we used to clash a lot, constantly. We still clash just a little bit now. But I realize I have to look at how I deal with things, how I react to situations. When I do that, I think of a better way for me to work, when I deal with different personalities so I think about how I can be the best me. Sometimes it’s volatile and sometimes it’s cotton candy but it can turn volatile. So, how do I surf through it? That’s what it is, surfing. Some days you catch good waves and some days you catch a storm. But any good thing is worth surfing.
DX: You feel you and Fatlip are at a better place?
Slimkid3: We’re definitely at a better point now. I don’t know if it was ego or competition. I don’t know what the fuck it was. Parts of that still exist but I try not to entertain my own ego. That only gets in the way of what needs to happen so I try to focus on the issues at hand, what is actually needed. Even if I hear an ego stepping up, I try to sift through it to try to help them understand what needs to happen. Everybody wants to feel themselves and feel great. Everybody wants that gratification. Well, finish jacking yourself off and when you bust a nut, we can get back to work. That’s kind of what it is.
DX: You said it’s “minus two.” What’s preventing you from getting back together?
Slimkid3: I don’t know. I think those guys want to stay in control. Currently, they claim to be The Pharcyde. It feels like they want to let the world know that they’re doing this stuff. They want to erase everything that ever existed. They want people to look at them as The Pharcyde like me and Fatlip never existed. You can’t do that. We’ve made history already. You can never erase us from history. I think it’s pride. Whatever wrongs done in the past on all sides. I can’t sit here and take the full weight like I did everything because that’s not true. I have plenty frustrations like everyone else. I had nervous breakdowns and all kinds of stuff, if you care to understand what I was going through. I have to look at what they were going through too, how they may have felt when I left the group. There’s a lot of things to it. But if you never listened to what I was trying to say, you didn’t really give a fuck whatsoever. That’s like any relationship. It’s like with a man and a woman. If you guys never listen to each other, you have absolutely no interest in working together. You only have interest in what you want out of the situation and to be able to milk it for as much as you can. But relationships are about working together, being able to tolerate each other. I don’t know where their head is at currently. It sounds like control. They just want to stay in control. I don’t know how rich they think they’re gonna get but you’re not even giving fans what they’re looking for. Knock on wood. We’re all alive. We’re all capable of working things out and cooperating but they’re not choosing that route because they want the world to see them as The Pharcyde. It doesn’t make sense to me. You guys should be a whole new entity yourselves because you’re not giving the fans what they are looking to have. Even when me and Fatlip are on stage, I’m sure they want to see the whole four. We’re not keeping that from them but they other two are really keeping that from everyone else. They’re going around doing their thing and it’s fine. Everybody should be able to eat, feed families and make money. But all the elements that made Bizarre Ride are over here with Delicious Vinyl working daily to make a better show and to be together. Everybody’s feeling good, laughing, joking and talking about the 20 year magic, putting the past behind us and enjoying this new thing. I don’t know, man. I really don’t want to talk bad about the other two but I don’t want there to be as much fighting as there is. Fighting is more expensive. We can make so much money together. Eventually we’ll die and history will be whatever it is but right now we have opportunities to not fight, make some good money an have some fun. But when you have someone trying to stay in control and the grip they have on it is so tight, you’re not even flying the plane anymore. Where are you taking this thing?
DX: Does that taint some of what you hear when you listen to some of your old music together?
Slimkid3: Um. Nah, I think the problems that we have are the problems that we have. There’s a lot of emotional stuff we have. Every time I see an article or them being negative, it pulls up so much bad energy for me. I don’t want that in my life. I don’t want to deal with that. It’s like the hate and anger starts over again. It’s like, you talk about everything, you put it all on the table and yet they still want to hold a grudge, not share and not be fair. It’s like, “Okay. I guess I’m in the wrong place. This place is a cold house. It’s not warm whatsoever.” You know?
With J-Swift and Fatlip and Delicious Vinyl, everything is so warm and it’s beautiful. It feels like we’re sitting out at the beach with our favorite drink watching the sunset, having a good time. That’s what it feels like to me. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but right now, I feel good. That’s how I want to live my life. You know? We’re older. We don’t have time for all the pettiness at all.
I was with those guys not so long ago, before the beginning of the year. I did the best I could do. [Pausing] I did the best that I could do. They still didn’t want to do things right so there was nothing I could do but not be there anymore. I was sitting there with my wife like, “This isn’t gonna change. I’m gonna hit the same wall every day. It’s never gonna change with them.” You just have to be like, “That’s it. They don’t want to do things in a good way. They don’t want to make any records.” [Laughing] It was so sad, man. I was like, “Man, we should make an album.” They were like, “I wish Tre would stop asking me to make records. We’re not gonna make any records with him.” I’m just like, “Wow. Okay. I won’t ask you anymore.” I would send beats over. I would send e-mails over. Crickets. Nothing. No response. Nothing. It’s really sad. You know?
Whether I was on that side or the side that I’m on now, it was always about progress and trying to make things happen to move forward with something. I’m just sitting here, basically doing what the universe wants me to do. They keep putting me in these situations. The only thing I could do is the best I could do. I know things might be difficult sometimes but I’ll try to do my best, the best that I know how to do. That’s all I have.
DX: What do you think their main gripe is with you all?
Slimkid3: I kind of don’t know. They would have to tell me. As far as I know, it was when I left the group. There’s a lot of “you, you, yous” when I’m with them. I feel like I’m the worst guy in the world and I know I didn’t do all that shit. You know? They were upset about a lot of things.
Um…Let’s see. [Sighs] We were supposed to do something with Forest Whitaker and they turned it down. There was a solo deal that could be had so I took that solo deal because we didn’t have to turn that shit down. That would have been a good place for us to be at the time because we were trying to get a new record deal. I was doing my solo project [Liberation] but I didn’t have any intention of leaving the group whatsoever. I was just doing another record. The record that I was doing, maybe they didn’t want to talk about those issues or maybe they didn’t want to hear so much singing or whatever. Those were the type of things I was doing and I had an avenue to do it through but I wasn’t leaving the group at all. I guess that kind of ruffled their feathers a little bit. I think that’s pronbably one of their main gripes with me. They think I was going off on my own things. I don’t know. I was a producer. I worked with Brian Austin Green on his [One Stop Carnival] record. They didn’t like that. There’s a couple things I brought to the table that they didn’t like. It’s like, how many times am I gonna bring something to the table that y’all don’t like? I can’t live like that. I was just making music.
There was a time when they were like, “You can only do one thing. Either do the Pharcyde thing or do your solo thing but you can’t do both.” How are you gonna tell me I can’t do both? How are you gonna give me an ultimatum? I wouldn’t do that to you guys? So, I was like, “That’s it for me.” I had to pull back. When you get into an argument with these guys, there’s only a lot of yelling. I’m not one to yell so I’m like, “You’re not gonna listen to my side of things. You’re only gonna yell at me until I do what it is you want me to do and there’s no compromise. So, I was like, “I can’t do anything but step away.” That’s when I stepped away.
Granted, the idea of, “If we do this one thing right, it’ll open up to all these other thigns.” I get that. But it’s just in the heat of the moment, where we were all at, and them arguing with me or whatever about, “You can’t do both things. You have to do 100% of this or that.” I’m like, “Dude, why are you giving me a choice? I’m just making music. I’m at my house. I got a live band, working on stuff and I’m just making music. That has nothing to do with you guys. I’m here for work. I’m here working where we need to work and doing what we need to do. Nothing has to change.” They moved the studio closer to me because at the time I didn’t really have a car. That was all fine and good but I had a full studio at my house also. So, I don’t know. I think that was the biggest part of the problem was them feeling I did them wrong by doing a deal on my own. That wasn’t really a big problem. That’s just business. That’s just business I did for a solo deal of mine but I wasn’t leaving the group at all. So, if you’re not leaving home but you’re doing other things yet you keep up with your commitment of what you’re doing with the group, I don’t see what the fucking problem is. I think that was the main situation, everybody letting egos happen. I guess me too, at some point, in defending myself. I can’t just stand there and let people smack me and spit on me. It’s not gonna happen. At some point you gotta stand up and speak up for yourself. My story’s been the same since then until now. That’s just what it was.
Sitting in a meeting with the other two guys, putting everything out on the table, I was like, “Yo, there’s things I did that I apologize for. Me not being in the group, I didn’t know how that would affect you. My intention wasn’t to do that anyways.” The whole time I’m thinking, “Can you guys just realize the parts you played in this whole thing? Let’s put everything on the table. It wasn’t totally me, bro.” It’s two against one. They’re on the same team. There’s no referee. There’s no mediator to really look at it. We need a fuckin’ therapist. We needed a fuckin’ therapist to sit with us to see what all the issues were, to see if there were even issues. That’s pretty much what was going on.
DX: What can we expect from you in terms of what is coming soon?
Slimkid3: I’ve been working on two solo records. I have one with DJ Nu-mark from Jurassic 5. We’ve been working on a record for quite a bit. It’s more Hip Hop driven, beat driven. When I fly down to Los Angeles, I’m always going to Numark’s hose to finish on the product. We’re working on different things, different cadences. He’s meticulous and it makes for quality stuff. Then the other thing I’m working on is with Tony Ozier from the Doo Doo Funk All Stars from Portland, Oregon. They’re two different sounds pretty much. With the Doo Doo Funk All Stars, it’s more funk and raw and organic. It’s dope. The stuff with DJ Numark is more like Pharcyde meets Jurassic 5 beats. So it’s really cool. The stuff I would do with Fatlip and J-Swift is a whole ‘nother feeling. It’s crazy to check us out like this. It’s really neat though because it’s versatile. I’m dealing with situations that are making so much versatility happen right now.