Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pharoahe Monch - Desire

If you haven't read this article from Slate today it is highly recommended. It has to do with indie rock going away from classic rock's roots in blues and other originally black music. While it points out that examples given are chosen carefully the overall article gives some great facts about the progression of the indie scene, in terms of ethnomusicology.

Pharoahe Monch, from Queens, NY is best known in hip-hop circles for his complex delivery, internal and multi-syllabic rhyme schemes and has gone relatively unnoticed until recently. His debut, Internal Affairs, debuted in 1999 and over the next 7 years released singles and tracks for movies. He kept himself in the game by creating successful singles, and ghost-writing tracks for others such as Diddy. The long layoff between albums is interesting and at the same time curious. Without being familiar with the debut album, it's easy to hear the latest release with fresh ears and not expect to hear something similar to 8 years ago.

On Desire, Pharoahe Monch creates an album that is laced with his signature lyrics and flow, while using authentic gospel, deep funk, and silky soul. With all of this thrown into the stew Monch has an crisp, tight feel that track-to-track is one of the best hip-hop released in the last year. These tracks are bold, brash, bright, insightful, and occasionally brilliant. While the vast schism in time between albums would take most off their game, Pharoahe Monch has come back stronger and clearly has honed his craft. The production throughout the album is varied and inspired. It's not fractured or all over the place, but rather demonstrates various influences, while staying true to Monch's style and interests. One of the best lyrics comes from the title track below where Monch spits "Slave to a label, but I still own my masters." Stating clearly that he is independent at the end of the day, and will make music the way he sees fit. One can only hope it doesn't take another 8 years for him to concoct another albums worth of original material; although at this rate it would be well worth the wait.

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