Friday, April 8, 2011

Pharoahe Monch – W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) (2011) – Review

Pharoahe Monch – W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)
The Queens MC has been in the game a long time now with amazing solo work (like Simon Says and Desire) and rare features (my favorite might be on Talib Kweli’s Guerrilla Monsoon Rap with Black Thought and Kanye West). With his new album, Pharoahe Monch is again attacking the establishment – both in terms of popular hip hop and the government. He preaches free speech and thought, imploring his listeners to think for themselves and find out what is really going on. There is certainly an air of mistrust to his lyrics, but the message of activism is through mostly positive measures. Pharoahe Monch’s rhyming is what truly sets him apart from most rappers, as he brilliantly strings words, thoughts and emotions together in varying patterns that delight the listener. The album feels very much together tonally, and his track selection both fit his style and the album’s overall expression, which benefits the experience as a whole – the album plays as a building story more than just a series of hot tracks. I like that Pharoahe Monch worked with producers that would give him the right sound for the album rather than just picking tracks from today’s hot producers. There are a few good features on the album as well – I like Idris Elba’s intro, and Royce da 5’9” and Jean Grae (who was also great on Talib Kweli’s Uh Oh, off Gutter Rainbows earlier this year) give great verses on the track Assassins. But, all the features are greatly overshadowed by Pharoahe Monch who is just ablaze. This is the best hip hop album so far in 2011. 4/5

Editor’s Song Picks:
1)      Let My People Go – Produced by Fatin “10” Horton
2)      Assassins – Featuring Jean Grae & Royce da 5’9”, produced by M-Phazes
3)      Evolve – Produced by Exile

Available on CD/Digital Download

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