BACK ONCE AGAIN, IT’S ABOUT THAT TIME OF YEAR WHERE PHAROAHE MONCH MAKES HIMSELF HEARD TO HIS AUSTRALIAN FANS. BEFORE HIS ASCENT DOWN UNDER TOURING WITH JEAN GAE, TROY DONALD JAMERSON DISCUSSES WITH RIP NICHOLSON THE NEW ALBUM, W.A.R. CO-PRODUCED BY OUR OWN EXPAT M-PHAZES, AND REVAMPING HIS FIRST ALBUM OR FIRST BORN AS HE REGARDS IT.
PHAROAHE MONCH interviewed @ 10.30 AEST – Friday 19th November, 2010
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
[Full Q & A below]
Into the fray with Price Poetry as the Organized Konfusion duo, Monch dropped three albums which received plenty on cred but little on sales. After signing with indie-house Rawkus Records in 1999, the seminal Internal Affairs was released and side-stepping plenty of free agent persuasion from Shady Records, Runyon Ave, Bad Boy and Sony Records, Monch signed with Steve Rifkind’s Street Records Corporation and released his 2007 follow-up Desire.
Monch’s W.A.R. Media imprint partnered with Duck Down Records are ready to bring usW.A.R. (We Are Renegades) which Monch regards as his finest work to date and considers it a boom bap return to circa 1993- ‘94. The supporting cast from Desire have returned, which Jamerson confirms is “still expected February 22nd next year.” And debut single off the LP is the Diamond D produced ‘Shine’ was released earlier this year finding Monch coupled again with the soul-drenched BK vocals of Mela Machinko who featured heavily on Desire. Behind the boards Denaun Porter, Black Milk, Lee Stone all return, but at the helm is Australia’s leading hip hop producer M-Phazes.
“M-Phazes produced the bulk of the album,” expresses Jamerson. “We got Styles P, Bun B, Phonte, Royce Da 5’9″, Jean Grae” and also slated to appear are Cee-Lo Green, Black Thought, Jill Scott and Talib Kweli while Samiyam, Marco Polo, Exile are expected to bring beats to the table. And according to Jamerson W.A.R. packs a bigger punch this time. “In ways I think its very harder approach than Desire.”
Also featured as possibly a notable track with a memorable name, ‘Haile Selassie Karate’ which exercises a new bag of kick ass for the Jamaica, Queens MC. “It’s produced by Denaun Porter from Detroit and the chorus has a beat produced by Samiyam and it’s really got a new style, a mean flow” but is by no means political.
Rumours of W.A.R. Media making a ten year anniversary re-issue of his first album Internal Affairs, a classic rap album, are worth the consideration for Monch who admits he would like re-introduce his early submission which includes a documentary about the making of the album. “We’re trying to make something nice as we re-produce it. Of course we could cut copies and drop it, but we’re working on something nice.”
Despite the revamping of his 1999 effort and admitting that 2011’s W.A.R. is a stronger album, asking Pharoahe Monch to play favourites between his three solid studio releases would just be bad parenting, when you consider that he treats them as his own.
“Actually, they’re all kinda like my children. You look at them and see their differences, their attributes, so for me thinking one is better than the next I think. But because Internal Affairs came out first, everything seems to gravitate off that. But I think Desire is just as powerful.”
Pharoahe Monch, in the airport awaiting flight to Australia, had apologised for having a hoarse voice from his recent shows and as he crosses our shores, the strain of how seriously Monch takes his live job is apparent in conversation. Working long and hard to get it right for his paying fans, Monch isn’t giving anything away easily for his upcoming dates.
“Because we’ve been practising so hard for the shows, I was like let me do something that takes it over the top. And we were going back and forth, talking about things we could do. And one of them was getting the laser light,” laughs Jamerson. “But I don’t wanna give anything away. It’s gonna be crazy.”
[Full Q & A below]
Q & A with PHAROAHE MONCH
Back down to Australia. You’ve been down here several times now, what is it you like coming back to here?
Not only is the country gorgeous, but the audience is really intelligent. And the shows are really good because they are in tune to a lot of the older music that we do.
You’ve been partnered with Duck Down Records since War was released, how’s business with them on the home front?
I’ve been with them for over two years now, they’ve done outstanding work. So it’s a chance for us to learn something from them and get it on and make this project happen.
How is the War album shaping up? When should we expect it out?
Still February 22nd. M-Phazes produced the bulk of the album. We got Styles P, Bun B, Phonte, Jean Grae.
Back with Styles P from 2002’s ‘The Life’ – was the chemistry still there?
Definitely, he’s a great artist.
‘Shine’ is really soulful does the rest of the album pick up where Desire left off – the more soulful approach to your hip hop?
In ways I think its very harder approach than Desire.
Off the track-listing you have a song called ‘Haile Selassie Karate’ – what is that about?
That’s produced by Denaun Porter from Detroit and the chorus has a beat produced by Sam I Am and it’s really got a new style, a mean flow.
And, opening with Idris Elba – how did he get on board with you?
I met him a while back and I did a soundtrack intro. We did this track and it sounds like it’s straight from a movie, you know. After we added the sound, the tunes and the sound effects was insane, he did a great job.
I’ve been following you a bit this week. The laser light show rig. What is that and did you get it on the plane?
That was a gag. Because we’ve been practising so hard for the shows, I was like let me do something that takes it over the top. And we were going back and forth, talking about things we could do. And one of them was getting the laser light. We were just joking. But we’ve been practising for these shows and we’re gonna have costume shows. I don’t wanna give anything away. It’s gonna be crazy.
[Jamerson apologises for having a hoarse voice from his recent shows. The strain of how seriously Pharoahe Monch takes his live job is apparent in conversation.]
Is there still the re-release of internal affairs with accompanying DVD?
We’re trying to make something nice as we re-produce it. Of course we could cut copies and drop it, but we’re working on something nice.
Actually, they’re all kinda like my children. You look at them and see their differences, their attributes, so for me thinking one is better than the next I think. But because Internal Affairs came out first, everything seems to gravitate off that. But I think Desire is just as powerful.