Pharoahe Monch Desire - Review

After leaping over some major hurdles in his career, Pharoahe Monch is officially back and letting everyone know he has no Desire to go anywhere. His 1999 club anthem “Simon Says” captivated the masses and even had some ladies “rubbing on [their] titties”. After all, Simon said so. However, having to tend to a slew of legal problems surrounding the blockbuster song and amidst some record label debacles, Pharoahe was in a bad spot. For his fans, its felt like a lifetime and in Hip Hop, 8 years really is. But not to fear fellow heads, Pharoahe is back and back with a vengeance with his sophomore solo album entitled Desire.

From the opening track “Free”, Pharoahe sets his sights squarely on the corporate fat cats of the rap game -- comparing the treatment of rappers to that of slavery. Though calling out the industry on their faults is by no means revolutionary, Monch keeps it fresh with lines like “Who am I? The poetical pastor / Slave to a label but I own my masters” (in reference to the lawsuit he was slapped with for the illegal use of a sample from Godzilla for “Simon Says”). Aside from his vengeful lyrics against the industry, Monch offers his take on issues of politics, the War in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, gun violence, infidelity and even lends some words of encouragement to young black females. No stone is left unturned in Pharoahe’s climb back to the top of rap’s lyrical elites.

Production-wise, this album is a masterpiece. Influences of Gospel and Jazz resonate and are complemented by soulful singing by guest vocalists Denaun Porter, Mela Machinko and Erykah Badu. The Alchemist makes his presence felt on the title track “Desire” and we get to see Pharoahe’s creativity behind the scenes on the rockabilly-inspired single “Body Baby” which is guaranteed to break a hip or two. Black Milk also makes notable production appearances on soul-infused tracks “Let’s Go” and “Bar Tap”.

Desire gives hope to the artistic potential of Hip Hop. It maintains its originality and breaks free of the stereotypical street narratives about shiny rims and grills. It’s a lyrical epiphany that’s chalk-full of creative imagery, meaningful metaphors and intriguing storytelling. This album is a culmination fuelled by passion and anger coming from one of the finest emcee’s to ever pick up a mic. This album will definitely open ears to what Hip Hop has the capability of evoking and is hands down the best album of 2007. If you’re feeling a detachment from the bubble gum pop hop that infests the airwaves, Monch will surely rekindle your love affair with Hip Hop.

Rhyme Revolution Rating: * * * * *

Download: Free, Welcome to the Terrordome, When the Gun Draws

Written By: Nomi Malik