You might remember the name Amerigo Gazaway from the mashup he delivered last year, the fantastic and enjoyable Fela Soul, in which he mixed together the music of Fela Kuti and De La Soul. The Nashville artist is back with another creative pairing, this time bringing together A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde.
The combination on this project isn’t as groundbreaking in terms of genre crossover, but the more I listen to the record, the more interesting I find it. Both groups existed in roughly the same time period in the early ‘90s, but Tribe were from NYC and part of the Native Tongues collective, while The Pharcyde were from L.A., and sort of stuck out amongst a lot of their contemporaries. The Pharcyde’s use of jazz and playful and clever lyrics placed themselves more naturally alongside groups like Tribe, with whom they toured with. Also, as both groups continued, they both started working with the incomparable J Dilla. Enough with the history lesson, though - How does the mashup work? What does Gazaway bring to the table? The short answer is that Gazaway uses a subtle touch, putting Pharcyde vocals over Tribe instrumentals, but then takes it a step further by tapping the jazz source material that Tribe used to extend and manipulate the tracks to better fit Pharcyde’s vocals. His work as remixer is most notable on a track like “Otha Otha Fish,” which starts out on ATCQ’s “Jam,” but then goes off through a couple of different jazz sections, blended seamlessly, only to end back up at the starting point. It’s this level of dedication to the material that makes this mix so special. Any deejay could throw a Pharcyde vocal track on one deck and a Tribe instrumental on the other deck and let them play out, but Gazaway does so much more, boiling everything about the two groups down their essence and building them back up. My only complaint is that he brings in Sublime on the track “Doin’ Time.” I understand it comes from shared source material, but it still feels just a little odd to have Sublime in conversation with these Tribe and Pharcyde. Bringing in Black Moon, the Brooklyn group that began in the early ‘90s, on “Pharcyde of the Moon,” feels much more natural and makes perfect sense.
At this point, most hip hop heads had probably though that they’d enjoyed these two groups in every form and fashion possible. Then someone like Gazaway comes along and gives us this simple concept executed so well, you’ll fall in love with both groups all over again. And who’s going to complain about that?
|Title:||Amerigo Gazaway - Bizarre Tribe A Quest to the Pharcyde|