Pharoahe Monch is one of Hip-Hop’s supreme lyricists, and has been so for more than 25 years. The Queens, New Yorker’s wordplay includes metaphors, similes, alliteration, assonance, and many of the other parts of speech that many are taught about in English/Reading class. Even living with asthma, the Organized Konfusion co-founder’s breath control is phenomenal, and allows him to support his substance with incredible style.
At the top of 2019, Monch premiered his “Yayo” video at Ambrosia For Heads. That song is indicative of the rapper’s artistry. The video reconsidered the meaning of “dope” with a bars that are just that. Now, he unveils his group, TH1RT3EN, formed with high-skilled musicians, guitarist Marcus Machado and drummer Daru Jones. An animated lyric video for “Palindrome” shows that Monch using an array of palindromes (and in word-unit palindromes). These are words that can have meaning backward and forwards. He raps at the top, “God damn, dog, I spit the dogma; I am God.” He also uses words like “racecar,” “civic,” and “radar” to finesse the concept. The track closes out a week of palindrome dates (9-10-19, 9-11-19, 9-12-19…running through 9-19-19). While these weeks have existed yearly since 2011, CNN reports this is the last of the century.
Like only Pharoahe can, he makes sense of this daunting exercise, and he also makes a song that jams. Monch then builds the song to have a field-day with arrangements and word groupings. He reverses a Run-D.M.C. homage, sends Middle Passage ships Eastbound, and makes the “live” chorus “evil” for the thematic Friday the 13th drop.
The word puzzles continue through the song, only to be enhanced by one of 2019’s best lyric videos. Notably, this song is produced by Nottz, the 20-year-veteran who is already in the middle of a banner year thanks to album-work with Rapsody, Little Brother, and Murs, among others. The Virginia representative is a decorated member of The Soul Council.
Earlier this year, Pharoahe has appeared on Diamond D’s The Diam Piece 2 and J. Period’s The RISE UP Project. Marcus and Daru have also been working with Pete Rock this year. Daru and Bobby J From Rockaway recently released “Flolikedis,” while Marcus made “Supreme Love” with FKAjazz and BD3.
#BonusBeat: Those in the Washington, D.C. area can catchTH1RT3EN live tomorrow (September 14)