As indie hip-hop artists of the early '90s mature, many are bringing their music back to the roots of the urban sound. Both Speech of Arrested Development and Michael Franti of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy have released albums in recent years that, while still maintaining a hip-hop sensibility, have expanded the sound to include R&B and soul, using live music rather than a turntable.
Add Tre Hardson of The Pharcyde to this list.
Since The Pharcyde disbanded, he has released two solo albums, most recently Slimkid3's Cafe. Both albums showcase Hardson's singing voice, something downplayed in The Pharcyde. But Hardson says artistic differences and a need to grow musically did not influence The Pharcyde breakup.
"It wasn't a musical difference. I didn't grow out of it. Me and Romye ["Bootie Brown" Robinson] had a little falling out," he says. "All of our egos messed everything up, pretty much. But musically, that wasn't the case. I would've loved to continue to make music with them."
Hardson says there's no way to tell if The Pharcyde will ever reunite, so instead he focuses on the now. He's put together a live band, Fuqawi, that he tours with and collaborates with when writing. "I love just being able to have more musicality to what I'm doing," he says. The result is a sound that harks back to the soul-filled love ballads of Bill Withers.
One thing hasn't changed since his time with The Pharcyde: It's still hard being indie in a mainstream world.
"The companies with the most money, the corporations or whatever, they pretty much dictate financially what's popular for the masses by oversaturation. The indie and the raw stuff don't have the exposure that's needed to sustain them."
Luckily, Hardson has the talent.
Tre Hardson with Pigeon John and Distrakt
Thursday, June 8, 8 p.m.
The Black Sheep, 2106 W. Platte Ave.
Tickets: $10-$12, all ages; call 866/468-7621 or visit ticketweb.com for more.