Exclusive: Pharoahe Monch Talks Depression & Independent Artist Hardships That Birthed New Album
Gemini’s are renowned for their two-sided personas but Pharoahe Monch, a Scorpio, possesses the undisputed duality of being one of Hip-Hop’s best raw talents as well as one its biggest enigmas.
His presence on records always commands attention with brash vocals and insightful lyricism yet at track’s end or close of a set, the allure grows bigger as there is a rarely a side story that beefs up the scandal factor for bigger headlines.
It’s an organic career path that has worked for Monch, born Troy Jamerson roughly 41-years ago. As a killer rhyme slayer from Queens, NY, the former Organized Konfusion frontman successfully has managed in keeping up a solo career afloat with just three albums in the past 15 years. Actually make that four as Monch gives Hip-Hop Wired the rundown on his forthcoming LP, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
PTSD flirts with the possibility of a utopian society where free-thinking is outlawed kind of like conceptive records on the radio. “I had personal experiences with depression and its side effects and I thought it would be a difficult topic to tackle but still give an introspective view to write from,” Monch tells Hip-Hop Wired. “When I recorded it, I looked at the violence in Chicago, L.A. and New York when the ‘war’ was going on from a social basis in the Black communities. It also made me look at the circumstances surrounding health care for independent artists and the struggle to pay for videos, promotion and marketing.”
It is a direct connector to 2009’s W.A.R. (We Are Renegades); the album that followed the rebellious Desire (2007) and Internal Affairs which holds a distinction as one of the most seasoned debuts of all-time. On a yearly timeline, the albums appear to be a bit on the inconsistent side but as Pharoahe explains, “The albums all did extremely well for an independent. A lot of what I’m pulling from is life experience. And that’s what longevity is all about.”
The gap in between albums is a question Pharoahe is frequently faced with, but as he tells it, he’s sculpting his legacy within his means so he can keep a stronghold on his artistic freedom. “The layover in between records is I don’t have the financial cushion to book out a studio for six months straight,” he elaborates. “And sometimes it’s contingent on the artists as well. I have Black Thought on the record and he’s obviously a very busy individual right now. Same with Talib [Kweli]. And when people holler at me, it’s not like I’m just sitting twiddling my thumbs waiting to shoot someone a 16 bar verse.”
Photo: W.A.R. Media