Finding The GOAT Group: The Pharcyde vs. Blackalicious. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’s annual battle series features Hip-Hop’s greatest collectives vying for the #1 spot. Sixty-two groups have been pre-selected by a panel of experts, and one slot will be reserved for a wild-card entry, including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving band of MCs and DJs is neglected. The 2018 contest consists of seven rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, leading to a Top 32, then the Sweet 16 and so on, until one winner is determined. For each battle, two groups are pitted against one another with a ballot to decide which one advances to the next round. Though there will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and text messages, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot or those using the official hashtags on social media count.
The next battle is between two elite pods of artists from the West Coast. The Pharcyde released two acclaimed albums, before the personnel splintered, affecting the group’s trajectory substantially. Blackalicious has maintained a 25-year-bond of cult status in Hip-Hop’s underground. Which Cali collective goes to Round 2? Your vote may be the decision-maker.
From South Central Los Angeles, The Pharcyde (Imani, Bootie Brown, Slimkid3 and Fatlip) released their Delicious Vinyl debut, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde, in 1992. Made a year after the crew’s formation, the gold-certified album gave the group a taste of crossover success. Unlike local contemporaries, The Pharcyde repped the hood without glorifying. Instead, these battle-tested MCs waxed clever concepts, used Everyman themes, and created a different sound that fit the SoCal vibes. Sophomore album Labcabincalifornia pivoted to more maturity and outside production to complement the styles from the likes of J Dilla and Diamond D. Ahead of Y2K, The Pharcyde shifted. Fatlip exited, followed by Tre. For the early 2000s, Imani and Bootie released solid efforts that predictably lacked the excitement and vocal versatility of the first two. After a reunion tour in the last decade, The Pharcyde still exists, but in two factions. When it comes to the first two LPs, this crew left an indelible mark on Hip-Hop.
Sacramento, California’s Blackalicious stood apart from the capital city’s Gangsta Rap lineage. MC Gift Of Gab and producer/DJ Chief Xcel make soulful, technically advanced Hip-Hop for the masses. Celebrated early works such as 1994’s supremely slept-on Melodica EP, and 1999’s one-two punch of the A2G EP and Nia are seminal West Coast Underground projects. Along with Solesides/Quannum Projects affiliate DJ Shadow, they signed to MCA Records and delivered the Top 50 charting LP, Blazing Arrow in 2002. Blackalicious has been intact for nearly 25 years, despite solo interests and a 10-year break. 2015’s Imani, Vol. 1 shows that Xcel and Gab could confidently pick up where they left off. The Sack-Town group has evolved in its sound and messaging, but sticks to the core ideals of soulful, melodic beats set against Everyman themes and exceptional lyricism.
So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.