Pharoahe Monch – W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)
Man…I missed this man as much as a straight man can. Pharoahe is one of my favorite emcees, and one of the greatest of all time. This particular album is geared toward “anti” – industry, authority, etc. He’s made a few tracks or comments with these themes, always the heavy conscious, lyrically advanced flows. But this is basically a whole album, a statement album of defiance. If there was an album to anger the so-called “hip hop police”, this would be one of them – which makes Duck Down the perfect label for what he’s doing now.
It’s a huge album sonically, as you’ve probably heard from the singles. But even starting with the first track, “Calculated Amalgamation”, he’s aiming for the moon. The production is rather excellent, from beginning to end. A lot of them definitely stand out. Exile brings the darkness on “Evolve”; M=Phazes, who has the most tracks on the album, really goes at with the most recent single, “Assassins.” This track is particular memorable because of the lyrics – Royce are super nice, as usual. But Pharoahe and Jean Grae KILL it. Of course, “Shine”, headed up by the legendary Diamond D, is still good on repeat listens. My sleeper track has to be “Le My People Go”, which was produced by a guy named Fatin Horton. There is one song I don’t like that much, the title track, which features Immortal Technique and Vernon Reid from In Living Colour. The beat is dope, but I’m just not a big, big Technique fan, and he’s all over the track. And I have to take a little away from “Black Hand Side”, simply because Phonte should’ve had a verse. Fuck a chorus.
Now, something had to be said about the theme real quick. It’s not complete. You look at the cover, and you listen to some of the interludes, and you expect something…more I guess. Just seemed to be lacking a little in cohesiveness. But even with that…..
Grade: a very strong B+…..as usual, the man kills it lyrically, and most of the production fits the project, and stand up individually. Very happy he’s back for now – definitely worth your duckets.