Lord, I really feel distressed...

Spending as many years as I did riding the #7, I remember cracking the occasional grin when that one wacky driver—you know, the cat who had the SMILE sign in the window—would stop by the old Safeway where I used to work. "Genesee," he'd sing, "Genesee, Genesee." Anybody who came up in the Cross Colors era would recognize the tune: Arrested Development's "Tennessee," of course. Weird to think that those guys predated Ten-A-Key reps Young Buck, Eightball & MJG, and Three 6 Mafia...

Anyway, I recall thinking AD had it goin' on for a brief sec, and that particular tune was my favorite off their ponderously titled 1992 debut 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days In the Life of... LP. I never heard a single track off of the 1994 follow-up Zingalamaduni, as my fascination with their feel-good Afrocentricity had waned by then. Former vocalist Dionne Farris graduated to one-hit-wonder status with her single "I Know," that weird old dude they kicked it with disappeared back into the woods, and in '96 lead MC Speech proceeded with his solo career. I never checked for him, as I'd come to equate AD with the many herbs that would cite the Development when they would rant how they listened to "hiphop" (more intelligent) and not "rap" (too "ghetto"). However, upon review, it seems Speech's move into a warmly funky, hiphop-spiced soul sound ain't half bad. He's not my favorite, and he's definitely given to the occasional cheesy moment, but I'm not mad at him, either.

One of my favorite groups from the early/mid-'90s was the Pharcyde. Their Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde debut is classic, the follow-up, Labcabincalifornia, is really good, but after that, they fractured due to ego, drugs, and other factors. While recording their third album—the unfortunate Plain Rap—the former Slimkid, now known as Tre Hardson, left the crew to pursue his solo dreams. The results, 2002's Liberation and the new Slimkid3's Cafe, retain none of the wit and humor that made his former crew dope, instead opting for a didactic positivity that is doubtless a big hit with the noodle-dancing types. But, shit, you might not agree; you might just lurve Speech and Tre. In which case, check out Chop Suey Thursday, April 13, where they'll be joined by Chicago's underground denizens Modill and Longshot.

Support The Stranger

Oh yeah—tune into 90.3 FM for KEXP's Audioasis this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Fellow Stranger "hiphop philosophist" Charles Mudede and I are cohosting the all-local radio show every third Saturday of the month. I know some of y'all hate the station, but tune in and hear us play the finest in local hiphop, past and present. We're proud to join the ranks of local hiphop radio, including the good kids at Rainydawg Radio; KBCS's weekend warriors Khazm, WD4D, and GeeTeezy; Jon Moore and DJ Hyphen over on KUBE's Sunday Night Sessions; and of course B-Mello, Scene, Ethx, and Lace Cadence on KEXP's Street Sounds. Don't touch that dial, fool!

hiphop@thestranger.com