Showing posts with label pharoahe monch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pharoahe monch. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

resonators 2019 - episode #023 - 'internal affairs' by pharoahe monch (VIDEO)

Oh, this is going to piss people off... eh, I stand by it. Billboard BREAKDOWN is up next, so stay tuned!

resonators 2019 - episode #023 - 'internal affairs' by pharoahe monch

I think I'm in the quarter of Resonators entries where I'm just going to be reviewing acts that I otherwise know and and like a great deal already - a little different than the discovery and research that came from last year's genre, but when the albums are pretty consistently great, am I supposed to complain?

Anyway, the story of this artist begins in the late 80s with the duo with the very timely name Simply II Positive MCs - in a desire to remain more marketable in changing times they'd rename themselves to Organized Konfusion and begin releasing critically acclaimed cult albums throughout the the 90s. And while the critics adored them for forward-thinking content and a unique sound in the era of gangsta rap, their eclectic and varied delivery and lyricism meant they never really saw mainstream success - kind of a damn shame because they didn't skimp on hooks or catchiness either, but that happens more than it should in the underground even today. But three albums in and after a particularly ambitious but mostly failed 1997 project The Equinox, the duo decided to split amicably and go their separate ways to chase solo crossover - and when you consider both had been rapping and producing their own projects through the entire decade, it's not surprising they wanted to thin out their workload and narrow their focus. It would take a relatively long time for member Prince Po to land his solo debut with The Slickness in 2004 to generally positive coverage, but the other rapper would receive immediate acclaim with his release in 1999 on Rawkus, featuring a murder's row of collaborators and later highlighted as one of the best hip-hop debuts of all time. And given that I've talked about this artist before and it's near the twentieth anniversary of its release - and the long-awaited re-release on streaming platforms long thought impossible thanks to sample clearance issues - it's time we go back to the source: this is Internal Affairs by Pharoahe Monch, and this is Resonators!

Monday, April 21, 2014

video review: 'ptsd: post-traumatic stress disorder' by pharoahe monch

Glad to be back - Easter was relaxing, but it's good to get back into routine, and this album was a great way to start.

Next up, not quite sure yet. We'll see!

album review: 'ptsd: post traumatic stress disorder' by pharoahe monch

You know, when Eminem released ‘Rap God’ last year, I wonder how many people saw the underground rapper Pharoahe Monch referenced in the lyrics and either thought, ‘Hey, I wonder who that is’, or ‘I’ve heard the name, but if Eminem referenced him, he must be good, so it can’t hurt to check him out’.

And I’m not too proud to admit that I include myself in the second category. I had heard of Pharoahe Monch’s strange and twisted career before – starting in the underground with the critically acclaimed duo Organized Konfusion with Prince Poetry before releasing his debut instant classic Internal Affairs in 1999… and then vanishing from rap music for a good eight years after a sampling controversy before a comeback and complete shift in style and content with Desire in 2007. I figured that once again, it was a good opportunity to finally acquaint myself with an artist in my backlog that I just hadn’t had time to cover.
And man, it’s a good thing I did, because Pharoahe Monch represents almost everything I love in rap music. A lot of personality and charisma, a taste for eclectic beats and production, an actual sense of humour, and most of all a gift for intelligent and layered wordplay that deserved all of the praise it got.  And with the benefit of that knowledge, I could see traces of his multisyllabic flow and delivery in so many rappers who followed him that it’s startling that he isn’t more famous considering his influence.

But when Pharoahe Monch returned to hip-hop in 2007, he came back with a decidedly different edge, less of the hard-spitting yet deftly intelligent gangsta rap that characterized his debut and more of a conscious political angle. Now in theory, I had no issues with this: of the many rappers who have tackled politics and serious issues in their music, Pharoahe Monch would probably be one of the few who delivered the material with any degree of respectable nuance. But when he released his third album We Are Renegades in 2011, I found myself a little dissatisfied. The political arguments were distinctly disjointed, the wordplay wasn’t quite as tight, the heavier beats and production that moved away from the soul samples often felt like they lacked cohesion, and it all spoke to a lack of singular focus. Sure, the album was still very good and I liked much of the content that he brought up, but I felt his presentation suffered a bit in bringing it to the table. On top of that, the dystopian framing device of the album felt a little silly and hyperbolic to me – not so much bad as lacking in subtlety.

As such, I wasn’t sure what we’d get with Pharoahe Monch’s newest album Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The album did promise a more personal focus – a touch I felt was somewhat missing from We Are Renegades, but given it was marketed as a follow-up to that album, I had no idea what he was planning to do. So I picked up the album and expected the worst – how did it go?