28 March 2011

Review: Pharoahe Monch "W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)"

Social commentary: check. Informed lyricism: check. Beats that bang: check. 5 star guest features: check. Damn, is there anything that this album DOESN'T have?!? Pharoahe Monch drops fire and brimstone on the hip hop world in a way that not many others can do and so many others have tried to lately (*ahem* Lupe Fiasco) and blows the top on urban social critiques by the elitist governments and politics that haunt the stages of our cities today.

Pharoahe discusses issues that many have talked about, but brings the topic up in such a dramatic and visceral manner that they can't be ignored, which is exactly what we need in my opinion. For example, there is an extended video of his single "Clap (One Day)" that hit me hard, considering my civilian occupation. He covered all the bases of classic rap in that jawn: a track to nod your head to under lyrics that will wake the willing in a video that brings your attention to the real issues. Don't get it confused, though: there are plenty of bangers on this album and Mr. Simon Says does a GREAT job of kicking knowledge without preaching to you.

"Assassins" is one such track. Jean Grae brings the heat just as her disciples expect her to. Her flow on the song is amazing and she doesn't let go for the length of her verse. Royce da 5'9" packs a punch as well but doesn't compare to Ms. What? What? and her rapid delivery. Royce is doing his damn thing with Slaughterhouse, but this song only fueled my ever increasing desire for Cake or Death, Jean Grae's long awaited album, to come out ASAP.

There isn't just amazing, hard bass hitting tracks and flawless flow, either. The divinely raucous, yet amazingly talented Mela Machinko blows out on "Shine," leaving me to wonder where the hell is HER album? I need the music industry to stop sucking on Kesha's dick and get with some REAL talent here. I can't be for certain, but I think Mela lends her strong vocals to "Let My People Go" as well, which just so happens to be my favorite track on the album.

All in all, this is an instant classic. I was anticipating this album for the longest and Pharoahe Monch and crew didn't disappoint one bit. I hope that the period between his last offering, Desire, and his first album, a period of almost a decade, is a thing of the past and we don't have to wait so long for another blessing like this one. If you care about real hip-hop like so many people claim to do, cop this. Buy it, listen to it, rock it, enjoy it. I know I did, and it will be in the rotation for a long while to come.

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