Monday, April 7, 2014

Pharoahe Monch Week, Day 1: Internal Affairs

One week from tomorrow, Pharoahe Monch will be releasing his 4th album, " P.T.S.D (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)". So with that being said, all posts on the blog this week will be dedicated to him leading up to the album next week. I'll be taking a look back at his first three solo albums, his work with Prince Po as Organized Konfusion, and more. On today's agenda will be Pharoahe's 1999 debut "Internal Affairs", but first, a small story.

Leading into the album, "Simon Says" was such a hot single. Each time I heard it, my anticipation grew for "Internal Affairs", then came January 2000 (can't recall the actual date). My long time friend Kentyl and I took a trip to Circuit City. The only two albums on my radar for that visit were Beanie Sigel's debut "The Truth" and Pharoahe's aforementioned album. It didn't take long for me to have both CDs in my hand, and in a moment that still puzzles me to this day, I allowed Kentyl to TALK ME OUT OF buying the album, smh+lol. Now, this would NEVER happen today. Kentyl's reasoning is still a mystery to this day, but like a complete fool I put the Pharoahe Monch album BACK ON THE SHELVE and copped RZA's "Bobby Digital: In Stereo" in its place (apparently he thought I was "turning my back" on the Wu by not copping the RZA album that day, and keep in mind he was never a big Wu fan and still isn't today). Needless to say, I was NOT happy with this turn of events, but I'll have more on this in the closing remarks on this album.


Release date- October 19, 1999




1. Intro
Produced By: DJ Scratch

"Refuse to lose!" -Chuck D


This horn laden, DJ Scratch produced banger sets the right tone for this album, and just in case you were thinking about taking it out your CD player, or cassette deck (or turntable if you had it on vinyl), Pharoahe comes lyrically blazing out the gate, ensuring you keep listening. Trust me, it'll be more of that to come on this album. 


2. Behind Closed Doors
Produced By: Pharoahe Monch

"Even wit door knobs you couldn't handle this"

This fast paced banger is tight as hell, probably my second favorite song on the album. In what would be a trend here, Pharoahe delivers so many quotables that I'd be listing all the lyrics. It's simply THAT good. Speaking of the title, he had to have been in a zone while making this one.
*5 out of 5*


3. Queens
Produced By: Pharoahe Monch

I really liked the soulful vibes on this one. It's not necessarily another track about where Pharoahe comes from, but rather a small glimpse at a day in the life in "Southside" Queens.
*4 out of 5*


4. Rape
Produced By: Pharoahe Monch

Now, please don't let the title of this song mislead you. Pharoahe is NOT talking about the subject of rape, but he flexes his lyricism and creativity for the term "rape" to serve as a completely extended metaphor of a sexual/lyrical assault (which would be the raping in this case) on a track, plus it's short, sweet and to the point. Must be heard to be appreciated.
*5 out of 5*



5. Simon Says
Produced By: Pharoahe Monch

As I mentioned during the intro, this was a hot single in 1999 and it was Pharoahe's first (and to this day only) brush with mainstream acceptance. It remains a classic banger to this day and probably the song he's best known for on the solo tip. (More on this song later.)
*5 out of 5*


6. Official
Produced By: Les Stone

There's no question that Pharoahe gets official on this one, which finds him utilizing his very sharp wordplay with all types of sports references, and I'm talking games, athletes and coaches. Amazing.
*5 out of 5*



7. Hell (Featuring Canibus)
Produced By: Les Stone

The beat to this alone would suggest you were in some type of "audio hell", but man that doesn't mean it's bad (it certainly isn't). Monch and Canibus lyrically come through and simply kills this beat, which also features an amazing, alliteration laced first verse by Pharaohe using the letter "F". Speaking of Canibus, at this point, he was still a force to be reckoned with on the mic. Had a song like this dropped even two years prior, Canibus likely would've stole the show, but Pharoahe holds his own with him.
*5 out of 5*  
  

8. No Mercy (Featuring M.O.P.)
Produced By: Alchemist

Pharaohe's calm but powerful voice matches up well with the aggressive sound of M.O.P. on this apply titled banger.
*5 out of 5*


9. Right Here
Produced By: DJ Scratch

In one of many things that's missing from today's hip hop scene, the call and response hook was used well on this hype track, calling out to the boroughs in New York. 
*4 out of 5*


10. The Next Shit (Featuring Busta Rhymes)
Produced By: Pharoahe Monch
Co-produced By: Les Stone

Guest Busta Rhymes was really pushing the arrival of the year 2000, and along with Pharoahe, that comes across well in this song. Time to switch the sound up heading into the new millennium.
*4 out of 5*


11. The Ass (Introducing Apani)
Produced By: Diamond D

Pharaohe talks about his way with the women, only to receive the countering view from Apani. Fun(ny) song, nothing more or less.
*3 out of 5*


12. The Light
Produced By: Diamond D

Even coming after "The Ass", Pharoahe delivers a respectable song for the ladies. It's all about the lady of his eye seeing the light while shining like one.
*4 out of 5*


13. God Send (Featuring Prince Po)
Produced By: Les Stone
Co-produced by: Pharoahe Monch

 Organized Konfusion indeed. When these two linked up you could count on something tight, and that's exactly what we get here. Pharoahe delivered his usual tight verse, but I feel Prince Po was the standout here.
*4 out of 5*


14. The Truth (Featuring Common and Talib Kweli)
Produced By: Diamond D

"The truth is there it's just the heart you gotta find it in" -Talib Kweli


Three quality MCs talk about the advantages of the truth in an excellent song. I certainly would like to see these three do something together today.
*5 out of 5*


15. Simon Says (Remix)
Featuring Lady Luck, Redman, Method Man, Shabaam Sahdeeq and Busta Rhymes
Produced By: Pharoahe Monch

 To say that this adrenaline laced posse cut is better than its predecessor is a gross understatement. All involved drop DOPE verses and to this day I still can't decide who had the best verse, which is one indication of how TIGHT a collaboration/posse cut is, and at 6:15 it certainly didn't wear out its welcome. Classic stuff.
*5 out of 5*



Now before I get to my final thoughts, allow me to return to the Circuit City visit and its "aftermath". With all due respect to RZA, I was never impressed with that first "Bobby Digital" album, so after I finished listening to it that night, I was pissed that I put back Pharaohe's album for it (and no, my friend Kentyl and I did not have a falling out, lol). Interestingly enough, I still didn't get a chance to go back to any store and cop "Internal Affairs" (likely due to a good number of albums being released in 2000), plus the album would sadly go out of print not too long after its release, which brings me to my next point. I recall hearing that the sample used on "Simon Says", which was the "Gojira tai Mosura" theme, used memorably in the old "Godzilla" movies, was apparantly not cleared, so due to those issues, the album was immediately pulled from shelves and to this day never received a re-release. That's a little harsh in my view. Furthermore, it took me YEARS to find a copy of this album, new or used, it didn't matter. Several years back, checking places like Amazon, Ebay, half.com, etc, were of no use, because those sites had USED copies of this album for $40 and up, which is way too high. I remember seeing a sealed copy of it on Ebay for $100. Wow. Being the persistent person I am, I never gave up on this one, so I lucked up in 2012 and found a "like new" copy of it on Ebay, and although I can't recall the actual price, I paid under $20 for it, and that was like 13 years in the making.


Now, as far as this album goes, it was one of the best albums released in 1999, definitely one of the most lyrical. Pharoahe was lyrically sharp on the mic, and his wordplay, metaphors and conceptual vision made him stand out very well while still being underrated at the same time, and that remains today. The album still holds up incredibly well, only aging in one or two spots, earning a solid 4.5 star rating.

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