The new project is scored by adept musicians in Marco Polo, Lee Stone, and even Pharaohe himself, which plants sturdy backdrops built exclusively for the analytic streams of consciousness found aplenty in the lyrics. A heavy flirtation with an electric guitar makes “The Jungle” a crass course into the animalistic forays of man while the Black Thought-featured “Rapid Eye Movement” is every bit the rhyme joust one would expect from just seeing the two pioneers of accessible underground music.
Serving as the year’s lead-off single, “Bad MF” unintentionally proves all older artists don’t have to lose the flair which initially gained them notoriety. Fittingly, the track is replete multisyllabic madness which Monch has made his forte. The chance that his traditional brand of music could alienate potential youth listeners (and buyers) doesn’t rattle the W.A.R. vet.
“This type of nuanced rap, to me it says what it is,” Pharoahe explains. “It speaks to a percentage of kids who were into Star Wars and rap music at the same time. I think to back when I was in high school. I was listening to Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and that was 20 years past my time. There are kids out there that are going back to throwback classics like Organized Konfusion and Roots’ albums. There’s something kinetically embedded in the culture. I think there is millions of kids out there that would say it’s not that deep and actually ‘get it.'”
Working under extreme pressure can see some of the most fruitful ideas blossom into real gems. How else are diamonds created? When something as grave as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be flipped into a sonic pleasure, you may just be watching a master at work. Or a Scorpio masquerading as a Gemini.
Pharoahe Monch’s PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) releases in stores and online April 15, 2014 courtesy of W.A.R. Media/Duck Down Records. For more information visit www.pharoahe.com.