Review Summary: Pharoahe Monch says, "GET THE FUCK UP!" (and buy this album)
What is there to say about Pharoahe Monch really? How technical of a rapper he is, how he hasn’t been very prolific over the years, or how he remains a legend after only releasing two albums? There is a lot to say about the Pharoahe, including the previous statements. The man is an extraordinarily talented rapper who’s been a part of at least 3 legendary rap albums, and has impressed anybody who’s laid their ears upon his work. Even his second studio album, Desire
, was almost an instant classic. From his days in Organized Konfusion to the aforementioned solo album, Pharoahe’s shown how hell of a great rap artist he is. In between all of it however, when he was still gaining notoriety, Pharoahe released his classic debut, Internal Affairs
. Garnering a small amount of mainstream attention with the single Simon Says, Internal Affairs generated a buzz in the underground of Rap like never before. What I’m saying is Pharoahe Monch and internal Affairs are the ***, whether you like it or not.
Opening with a 3-minute intro, Pharoahe Monch already asserts his authority over the listener. He busts lyrics of bragging and rhymes about who he is and how he’ll out rap the *** out of you. Then the album descends into Behind Closed Doors
, which is a DJ Premier-esque cut, in that the beat is bass-heavy with minimal, haunting piano above it. Pharoahe showcases his ability to flow over a multitude of beats throughout Internal Affairs, rapping over summery, pop cuts and darker, heavier tracks. Like on [i]The Next ***[/I[, where Pharoahe delivers a superb verse on a vaguely, Egyptian sounding track. It also features Busta Rhymes, who while usually good on guest verses, pretty much ruins the cut with a stuttering, awkward flow. Pharoahe could spout his chopped, jazz-influenced delivery over any track and still sound good though.
Pharoahe is a fierce lyrical machine. He never falls short of topics to rap about, whether it be the city of Queens, New York or boasting of his own abilities or even the touchy (to some) subject of rape. To quote lyrics from the aforementioned single Simon Says, “ Uptown let me see em/Notorious for the six-fives and the BM's/Heads give you beef, you put em in the mausoleum/And the *** don't start pumpin til after 12 PM/Ugnh, ignorant minds, I free em/If you tired of the same old everyday you will agree I'm,/ “
. Those lyrics show Pharoahe’s ability to weave complicated rhyme schemes in and out of verses while still maintaining his stuttery, spazzed-out flow. Pharoahe keeps listeners guessing with his complex word usage and complex technique.
For the most part, the guest spots are weak on Internal Affairs. It certainly does boast great selections like M.O.P., the always entertaining duo of Redman and Method Man, and the underrated Lady Luck. For every good guest spot though, there is a bad one. You’ve got the only-good-on-guest-spots-but-falls-flat-here Busta Rhymes, the ever-annoying Canibus, and the just plain garbage Sahbam Shahdeeq. Those three drop terrible verses here, some even worse than their own solo albums. Prince Po shows up for a guest spot here, but it falls flat halfway through. Pharoahe really should’ve left the album to himself, even if it wouldn’t have bolstered sales.
Internal Affairs is the dynamic between his later Gospel-influenced career and his earlier, more rap oriented style. Internal Affairs holds touches of both parts of his career, whether it be harmonized, gospel preaching in the middle of tracks or the focus on lyricism and complex rapping throughout. It ever ceases to amaze me how he can maintain himself on the mic without losing his breath or messing up a line. Internal Affairs is the proof that he is one of the best rappers to ever come out of the game. His commanding presence and dexterity are the makings of a great rapper. If Internal Affairs hasn’t caught your attention yet, I suggest you pick it up. It’s truly a post-modern classic from one of the few unique artists in a world of cookie-cutter sound-alikes. An excellent effort, 4.5/5