Pharoe Monch (Album Review)

Posted on March 28, 2011

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Is Pharoe Monch’s talent for aggression and anarchy possible to contain in an album? As he states on Renegade ‘this is calculated amalgamation’ W.A.R kicks off in a somewhat unexpectedly controlled and considered manner as Monch (known for flying off the handle on guest verses) delivers a provocative mission statement with every rhyme. We are challenged to keep up with him with no throw-away lines. Each verse plays like a lesson, a speech or a lecture, sounding rehearsed and edited, re-assessed and crafted over many years.

Themed albums occasionally struggle for credible material in stages, but W.A.R is delivered by someone with the intelligence, social resources and mental capacity to fulfil entirely the demands of such a bold title. The music throughout sounds original and purpose-built; creating a dramatic yet Hip-Hop faithful setting for Pharoe Monch’s sermons, during which never feel like we’re being preached to or patronised.
Staying rooted in the culture was obviously requisite number one during the production of this album. We’ll find boom bap beats and references anchored in the simple codes of everyday people (eg. Black Hand Side) but Monch is unafraid to fade out with some strings, elevating the subject matter into something more divine at times. Almost every track snaps with a true-school tempo that’s 1993 all over, and Monch’s lyricism is at its absolute finest throughout. We’re thankful it’s not littered too heavily with guest artists, otherwise the spirit of independence behind the whole album might be compromised. Saying that, watch out for Jean Grae and Royce Da 5’9 flexing on Assassins.
Most impressive is how Monch’s lyricism shares footing with the quality of the music on W.A.R. Rather than casting shadows over each other; the two elements forge a powerful bond, resulting in a memorable, highly engaging album with no compromises; which essentially sums up the theme of the album. Climaxing with the goosebumps of Still Standing and W.A.R, Pharoe Monch defines a renegade as a no-compromise, socially responsible individual who seeks the good, true, and virtuous in whatever they’re doing; inspiring others around him; sometimes leading by example alone.

Posted in: Reviews