With their forward-looking 1992 debut album, Bizarre Ride II (Delicious Vinyl), LA’s the Pharcyde got in on the ground floor of the diversification of hip-hop. Eschewing the gangsta shtick that’s earned Compton and Watts natives like Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Warren G. their reputations, the Pharcyde took an approach that was both topically and musically more akin to that of Oakland’s Hieroglyphics crew–Souls of Mischief, Casual, Del the Funkee Homosapien–a loose collective that favors more diverse samples and grooves, less violence, and less misogyny. Combining live musicians, an adventurous spate of varied samples, and the colorful, skillful raps of Imani, Fat Lip, Slim Kid, and Bootie Brown, they create a dense sonic environment studded with discursive sounds, polyrhythms, and killer deconstructed riffs. An unusually high melodic quotient undergirds their freestyle punch. The group’s long-awaited follow-up is due this fall; apparently it’s a more somber outing than their relatively bouncy debut, and this rare live date promises to provide a preview. Ben Harper opens. Thursday, August 10, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Block.