by: NATALIE HINDS
In 1999 Pharoahe Monch released the classic “Internal Affairs” LP, home of the smash hit single “Simon Says.” Seven years later the elite Queens bred, Pharoahe Monch, is back to release his second solo project titled, Desire.
As a veteran in the rap industry, Monch endured life’s many ups and downs along with a major label switch. As a re-emerging artist Monch is fully equipped with hot tracks, out of the box ideas and a burning desire to re-introduce himself into an “unbalanced” rap world in dire need of an originial, talented yet sophsticated MC such as himself.
After a debated label switch, Monch has found a new home at Steve Rifkind’s SRC Records. He’s also collaborated with some of the industry’s best. Some of which include, Styles P of the Lox for the track titled, “The Life”, rapper / actor Mos Def and west coast crooner Nate Dogg on the track “Oh no.” In addition to his notable collaborations, he left a mark with his track, “Fuck You,” for the Academy Award winning film Training Day and most recently did a cameo on Linkin Park’s platinum selling album “Reanimation” and Talib Kweli’s “Quality” LP.
In a new era where rap music has transformed through the ages, Monch is prepared for all the challenges headed his way. Does he have the formula to build and sustain a reputation as one of the most illest and diverse lyricist in the rap world? My answer is yes, “I think it’s a matter of my label, myself , my celebrity, attitude and willingness to get out there that is going to determine whether or not I cross over this mainstream barrier into a more familiar rap culture, garnering a higher fan base,” says Monch. “The opportunity is there for me to progress.”
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: Since your debut in 1991, Hip Hop has evolved and transformed in a variety of ways Do you feel it’s taken a turn for the better of worst?
Pharoahe Monch: There have been a couple of ups and downs but right now I feel that hip-hop has taken a downfall. I say this because the variety of music is not as abundant as it used to be, at least in my eyes it isn’t. In that sense- radio wise- when you listen to an 8-hour set on the radio, one does not hear an abundance of different types of artists, genres and songs and this statement applies to radio stations across the country.
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: So in an essence you believe that all of modern day rap music sounds the same? It’s all about “Lean with it, rock with it”?
PM: The biggest word in my vocabulary right now is balance. I believe that even when you go back in the days with the groups that you’re used to hearing, it’s not even about a specific sound that you’re used to listening to. When it comes to balance, I’m speaking more about what we as music artists are feeding the people- the sounds coming from a majority of these artists isn’t balanced. These new artists need to study their music history at the same time, I believe part of the responsibility falls on the labels and radio as well to try and create a balance between the type of music that is being put out there.
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: There have been rumors about you siging to Rocafella Records and also news going around that you’re signed to Shady Records. Is there any truth to these rumors?
PM: There is some truth to most rumors but not all. To answer your question directly, when I was at Geffen, my situation was to move over to Shady. I was excited about the move however the politics between Geffen and Rawkus (the merger) put a damper on the situation and caused the move not to be as smooth as I would have liked it to be.
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: The media tends to disregard artists who haven’t been in the spotlight as “has beens.” How do you plan to counter that disregard?
PM: It’s about how your music is effecting the people who recieve it. If you hit hard enough, the people are going to determine your position and where you stand in this rap game. Times are different now and the media is different now. You have the internet now where people have constant access to whatever they want. It’s no longer required to visit the nearest magazine stand to see the next hot thing. I feel like with all the touring that I plan on doing, I have the opportunity to showcase my artistic sound LIVE, this way people can see and hear me in the flesh. It allows me to showcase my brand of hip-hop and in an essence.. enables me to brand myself as a unique hip-hop artist. In doing this, I’m giving them a chance to get to know me. I think it’s a matter of my label, myself, my music, my celebrity, my attitude and willingness to get out there that is going to determine whether or not I cross over this mainstream barrier into a more familiar rap culture garnering a higher fan base. The opportuity is there for me to make my move and progress.
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: Lets talk about this new album. What will be part of the promotion for this highly anticipated album?
PM: Basically getting on the road and bringing my music to the people. I also plan on shooting a short film for one of the songs on the album called “When the gun draws.” It’s a part II to a song I did wth Organized Konfusion called “Straight Bullet.” It illustates the path of a bullet from a political standpoint. In other words it highlights not only who the bullet hits in the “hood” but where it reaches globally in terms of war and assasination. There are alot of poignant leaders in this country. We have pretty provacative footage that isn’t even geared to MTV or BET. Those who wish to see this must venture out on their own to get it.
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: What are some of your favorite tracks on this album?
PM: One of my favorite tracks is “Body Baby”. It’s a very fun song. I spit heavy on the verses but the chorus is catchy. Another one of my favorites is “Bartat” which was produced by Black Milk, it’s a funky 1997-1998 club vibe. And last but not least, “When the gun draws.”
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: How will this album differ from your last album, “Internal Affairs” ?
PM: I think Internal Affairs was pretty personal and much of a stress release. Over all.. the sound of that album is more angrier than “Desire”. I worked with Talib Kweli, Common and Busta Rhymes on my last album. On this album you’ll hear alot of joyous sounds, love and political topics. There are no featured artists on this album with the exception of Dwele and Erykah Badu
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: What producers did you work with on this album?
PM: Well myself, Black Milk, Denard Porter and Alchemist amongst others.
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: Tell me if I’m getting too personal, but are you currently involved with anyone right now?
PM: [He laughs] Too personal.
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: What would you like to let your fans know right now?
PM: This is the best album I’ve ever done with the best lyrics I’ve ever written.
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: Has a reunited Organized Konfusion ever crossed your mind?
PM: My standard answer to that question now is who knows what the future holds [he laughs].
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: I hear that you will be singing on one of your tracks called “Push”. What was that experience like? Why did you choose to sing rather than rhyme on this track?
PM: That goes back to Organized – I sang a few songs on some of the tracks that we did. I also sang on the “The Life” track I did with Styles P. I always dabbled with the singing thing so I decided to give it a try on my album.
RAPINDUSTRY.COM: Do you have any other projects in the works other than your album release? If so what?
PM: No. Other than my album I’m working on the short film for the song “When the gun draws” as I mentioned before. My primary focus is my album and the push behind it. It’s a sure shot album guaranteed to lift you off your seats!