Pharoahe Monch

Beats & Rhymes: Pharoahe Monch’s WAR (We Are Renegades)

Each Monday, Beats & Rhymes highlights a new and notable hip-hop, rap, DJ, or electronic record that embraces independent sensibilities.

Pharoahe Monch: We Are RenegadesPharoahe Monch: WAR (We Are Renegades) (Duck Down, 3/22/11)

Pharoahe Monch: “Black Hand Side”

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Hip-hop veteran Pharoahe Monch is a lyrical force of nature, with an ability to rap complex rhymes with a muscular, rhythmic, and seemingly effortless flow. Even after 20 years, the quality of his three albums with Prince Poetry (as part of Organized Konfusion) hasn’t been diminished.

His first solo LP in 1999, Internal Affairs, was a more thug-inspired record that saw Monch making a significant move towards mainstream success, until legal battles over lead single “Simon Says” and its unlicensed Godzilla sample torpedoed its climb. Monch laid relatively low for the next eight years, releasing occasional singles and guest spots before presenting the soulful and inspired Desire in 2007.

Thankfully, he didn’t make the world wait as long for his third solo album, WAR (We Are Renegades).  On his latest, Monch doesn’t waste time reaffirming his place as one of the genre’s best, frequently employing polysyllabic rhymes and repeated sounds that move beyond the simple AABB end rhymes on which many rappers lean. He boasts about this on the standout “Evolve,” describing himself as “The anomaly / your mama nominated me phenomenal / I dominated without a six-pack abdominal.” The machine-gun assonance on display here is just one example of the lyrical complexity that Monch brings to the record.

Q&A: Melvin Gibbs on Brooklyn Roots, Brazilian Inspiration, and Upcoming Album

Jazz bassist Melvin Gibbs is an extremely diverse musician, and this musical diversification is exemplified by his new project, Melvin Gibbs’ Elevated Entity.

Hailed by some as the “best bassist in the world,” Gibbs expands his palette further on his forthcoming record, Ancients Speak, including tastes of Brazilian hip hop and African Yoruba culture.