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The 100 Best L.A. Rap Songs

10. Pharcyde "Passin' Me By" (1993)

Album: Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
Label: Delicious Vinyl
Producer: J-Swift, L.A. Jay


The Pharcyde were experts of their craft that didn't take themselves too seriously, and that's why 20 years later we're still taking their music seriously. “Passin' Me By” does much that is difficult to pull off: Being goofy and somber at the same time; incorporating saxophone into a rap song in non-cheesy fashion; a hook that is not quite sung, but yelped.

We hear this and think of the photographs of Pharcyde Manor that Brian Cross took in 1992, when the group members gathered around a live drummer, threw back their heads, and rapped to entertain each other.

Millions of rap outfits talk about being brothers, but Pharcyde made songs that weren't premised only on a fraternal bond, but on authentic day-to-day friendship. Even now, “Passin' Me By” seems like it was made just for them, that the listener is incidental, that we happened upon a group of friends while they were running styles on their couch.

Their talent seems so casual and J-Swift's track is so casually orchestral, you can still get twisted by the shift in depth perception that occurs when the verse of this song slips into the chorus. Quincy Jones should get some kind of honorary L.A. rap medal for providing the dank samples for 2Pac's “How Do U Want It,” Above the Law's “Murder Rap” and this, based on a 1973 cover of “Summer In the City,” suitably muggy for the Pharcyde's mischief.

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