Friday, February 29, 2008


I'll be honest, I had never really heard of Pharoahe Monch until about the year 1999 or 2000. I had heard "Simon Says," but it didn't really get enough play on the music video stations I was watching to learn it. Then came "Oh No!" with Mos Def and Nate Dogg. I loved the video, there was nothing to it, which let me focus on the rapping. And it was so awesome. But I had no real sense of how good all of it was, especially this Pharoahe/Pharoah Munch or whatever. And for a long time, that was the extent of my collection of songs by Monch. Once I got to college, a good friend of mine who was way more knowledgable about rap (and sort of got me started in listening to it more intensely) once played for me "Drop Bombs" off Stress: the Extinction Agenda. It was only an interlude, but the vague reference to the Vietnam War sort of caught me. Then he played "Official" and "Rape." After "Rape," my mind was blown. Besides Nas's "I Gave You Power" and a handful of other songs, I had never heard a concept so well fleshed out. That's not to say I wasn't creeped out a bit, because I certainly was, but I had to hand it to Pharoahe, he had gall. Later that year, doing my first radio show by myself, I ran out of songs to play on my playlist and looked in the library for something. I found the first Organized Konfusion album (but didn't realize Pharoahe was in the group, somehow) and popped in "Fudge Pudge." I took the CD back with me and listened to it a bit, but I still didn't really pay much attention.

Then, this past summer while I was in Seattle, Pharoahe's second album, Desire, was released. I read a review by Noz, and had downloaded "What It Is" and was loving it even though it was painfully short. I went back to that first OK album and just listened to it over and over. I found more to like from both Prince Po and Monch the more I listened. Then I was able to download Internal Affairs. I just could not stop listening to the way the man not only put words together that looked cool when read, but said things in a way totally sold the image or thought he wanted to convey. Early in the school year, I finally got Stress, and I simply could not stop. Every verse is different, yet somehow a unique style manages to to creep through. Because he never assumed one personality, unlike other MCs, listening to Pharoahe I saw him change from someone threatening to kidnap and decapitate you to a guy simply concerned with how things sound together to being reflective. There's just too much to the man. HOW DARE YOU QUESTION HIS TRENDSETTING, LOOK AT WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE TABLE.

But seriously, this guy is extra nice. Sometimes it's scary to realize he was 19 when he did "Prisoners of War." And while some rappers got tired of bitches and switches and hos and wanted to talk about time traveling, Pharoahe (and Prince Po) simply did it. It's really a shame he only has two solo albums, and more of a shame that the rap climate is such that there is constant turnover to the point that now even OutKast seem outdated on Gangsta Grillz: The Album.

In other news, Lil Boosie is apparently a rising star. And Weezy had a "positively historic" concert in Newark last week. No comment.

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