Phenomenon of the Phoenix
by Dove
~Sheepish Lordess of Chaos~

Email Dove

Legend of Phoenix, aka Tre ‘Slimkid’ Hardson, is in search of making his immortal mark in music. After spending nearly a decade with The Pharcyde, Tre has ventured out on his own to pursue his own identity. With an eight-piece band backing him under his new moniker, Legend of Phoenix, he is stepping away from the past with confidence that his future will fulfill the vast inspirational urges he has always possessed.

In the late 80’s he was seeking success in entertainment as an energetic teen, first with dancing, then with emceeing. Tre recalls the pleasantry of early years with his former Pharcyde partners Imani, Romye and Fatlip. The friends spent nearly five years shopping for a record deal when they landed at Delicious Vinyl, and after releasing their first LP Bizarre Ride II in 1992, their fame came quickly. Tre says of the notoriety "I think we were open arms with it, we were struggling to survive. People were recognizing we had the musical talent. When you’re that young the recognition is great. When I look back and listen to the first record, I look at the footprints in the sand and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of our accomplishments."

There have been many reports regarding the breakup of The Pharcyde, and Tre admits that there were several factors that contributed to his leaving the group. "I’m sure it can be said I left for financial differences. We didn’t really get along with our record label. We were given the opportunity to do solo deals somewhere else, our management worked it out. I wanted to do a side situation for the longest time – some things that maybe it’s not right for me to put on a whole group, the way I think or believe, to explore the live instrumentation. The Pharcyde may have been down with some of it, and some of it they may not" he speculates.

After having a repertoire of nearly 80 recorded songs, the constant rejection from Delicious Vinyl’s staff became too much for Tre to cope with. "We kept getting told our shit wasn’t good enough. The label kept turning things down. It was just a huge argument. Getting away from that allowed me to love music again. It allows me to build a better foundation. I’m 30 years old so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have that foundation." When Tre left the group he signed a short-lived deal with actor Forest Whitaker’s independent label Spirit Dance. He later started his own label, Flying Baboon, with partner Tatiana Letvin.

He is fastidious in his selection of artists to work with, even if they don’t meet the approval of the general public. Tre’s need for self-preservation is key, and he refuses to dilute his inner peace with anything that discomforts him. "We’re put on this earth to be all that we can be, not half of it. You can’t help that you are who you are. I’m not going to extinguish my light because someone else tries to keep me underground. Even a little status is light. Do you want to be controlled by people or do you want to be you? I produced Brian Green’s record, which a lot of people gave me shit for, but I don’t give a fuck – that’s my best friend. I wanna do a lot of different things. Who knows? I might even write a country song now," he laughs.

Tre’s step-father was a ‘starving artist’ with an affection for Hendrix, so Tre grew up with an appreciation for the struggle involved with creative freedom. Tre realizes that the changes he went through with the Pharcyde have affected him in ways that he will always carry with him. "It’s called growth. All of these terms are part of the nourishment of the fruit. The past is the past and you’re moving forward and doing new things."
A focal point in his journey to self was changing old patterns. He began reading avidly, and cites Conversations With God by Donald Walsh to be the book that started "peeling the potato". Other works he credits with life realization are The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Milman and Soul Love by Sanaya Roman. "I feel like I’m a late bloomer. Imani’s been reading this type of stuff for years. Before I was like ‘whatever’ to meditating and vegetarianism. I only eat fish and vegetables now." Tre studies the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do, and recently began taking classes in Kundalini Yoga.

Legend of Phoenix is Tre’s venture into an art form he calls "expressionism". He describes it as "just being you and not caring about what people think about you. If you worry about things you’re going to tailor things to fit people around you. It’s about releasing all things." He, alone, is Legend of Phoenix, but says that his eight-piece band is an integral part of his creative angle. His independent work has brought him a sense of peace and satisfaction.

"It allows me to be freer in my mind about my direct business – it’s so powerful, from me educating myself about knowledge of self. When you hear it you will be elevated by it, and that’s not an egotistical way of saying that. I’m confident and it will radiate. I hope it takes layers off of people’s shells and helps them unveil they’re true spirit. My work is of the all." Tre explains that his thought process never ceases "I have songs in my head and I can’t sleep."

Tre assures that although some bands have trouble keeping instrumentalists excited about their music, his group stays attentive and involved. "My band members are great musicians. I don’t have to keep them excited because it’s the love of what we’re doing that makes it work. The people in the band may change, they may stay – but they are a blessing." There has been some adjustment from performing with pre-recorded tracks to having a live band. "Things that are programmed sound straight and tight, whereas playing live you can hear the changes. But there’s a certain magical energy {in live music}, a vortex opens up. It’s like hearing Sly Stone – it’s just a good vibe. Live music is more vibey and won’t have the solid hit that programmed music has." Tre expresses a love for The Roots, both professionally and personally. "The Roots set it off for me," he relays affectionately.

Current plans for Legend of Phoenix include a show at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica on February 16th. They are also working to set up a gig with Miles Long, a band formed by Malcolm Jamal Warner. The enigmatic group ‘3 7000 9’ shares the Flying Baboon site with Legend of Phoenix, and Tre has recorded with the hard-driving band. Tre is also open to take his act overseas for some dates. One project he’d like to do in the future is a collaboration with the Foo Fighters.

When consideration is turned toward the prospect of a Pharcyde reunion, Tre relies on philosophical and spiritual theory to analyze the possibility. He insists that fans of the Pharcyde should support the individual efforts of the artists in order to perpetuate the success and continuation of the art they had already appreciated. "If the universe brings us back together then we’ll do it. David Bowie was in a group. Sting was in the Police. I’m in my 30’s now, when I was in my 20’s I worried too much. I think if the people want it that much they’ll support what is now. I love Imani, I love Romye, I love Derrick. There’s not a night they’re not in my dreams or in my thoughts. We’ve been together for a long time. We’re here to walk and to branch off when it’s time. Maybe these 4 different rivers will meet in the same ocean once again."

Fans of the Pharcyde approaching him with questions about the breakup do not faze Tre. "I can’t deny we had magic because we had a lot of it. If I’m swayed by people’s angry thoughts and am not doing what I feel then I’m a prisoner, I’m just a slave. I love those guys, but I still have to do what I’m doing. I’m open to do other things, but I’m not open to not being able to do what I want. I answer to me, that’s all I can say. I wish everyone well, but you can’t put a lampshade on anyone – you’ve got to let them shine."

Realizing that following his own advice may be difficult at times; Tre resolves to support his former band mates in every way possible. "What I love about all of us is that we’re straight honest – there was a time in my life that I would run from things. If I see Fatlip has a show I’ll go sit in the audience and be supportive. Those guys are my soul mates. Being a soul mate doesn’t mean you’re always gonna have good days."

Although Tre left Imani and Romye to their own devices with the marketing of Plain Rap, he professes that the project is artistically competent. "If people take their time and listen to it, it’s really good." He remarks that he enjoys Fatlip’s new project. "He’s an incredible writer – so is Imani." He has had conversations with Romye, who told Tre that crowds have been receptive to the new presentation The Pharcyde is coming with, not really caring that the dynamics have changed. "I think the Pharcyde is it’s own phenomenon. It’s beautiful to have been a part of it. The Pharcyde will never die. I’m amazed every time I go places- the oddest places - and hear people talk about it. It’s all a blessing."

With any luck, Tre’s trek into the wilderness of Self will progress beyond the bounds of his own introspection, and will reach out to the fans who are eager to grasp his concepts, as well as to the friends who played a role in his revelation. The carefree days of B-boying and Bizarre Ride may be over for Tre, but the Legend of Phoenix offers the opportunity for his ascension into a haven of artistic bliss.

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