Pharoahe Monch
W.A.R.


3.5
great

Review

by Jared W. Dillon USER (118 Reviews)
March 22nd, 2011 | 19 replies | 10,817 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 'smoke kush, wake up, and eat breakfast'

The length of the typical rapper's career could easily be related to that of professional athlete. They probably have a span of four years where they seem relevant until eventually they are booted from the mainstream. Trends in a genre based around immediate hits change so rapidly that it is hard for rappers to constituently do something new. Artists who have done so in the past are critically rewarded, but many times not seen as doing what the listener wants to hear. Many rappers from the so-called golden age of rap release records that are intentional throw backs to their glory days. The beats have gotten slower and the rhymes have gotten less complex creating a version of hip-hop adult contemporary. Artists who once were seen as genre shaping have now become redundant slaves of auto tune attempting to. Pharoahe Monch over his long and storied career has never once seemed to make music for the sake of selling records. Organized Konfusion in retrospect was probably the most diverse duo of the '90s. They fit in with the Native Tongues crew, but were also able to create boom bap tracks like Stress's 'Bring it On'. After Monch left Organized Konfusion he released his debut record 'Internal Affairs'. 'Internal Affairs' was an attempt to stray from the backpack label he'd gotten at the beginning of his career. The lead single that propelled the record ironically established Monch's mainstream relevance behind a track that had the chorus 'get the *** up'. Massive label issues have stunted Monch's career, but after years of fighting 'Desire' was finally released in 2007. Relying on gospel choirs and beats from then newcomer Black Milk 'Desire' was yet another addition to Monch's diverse discography. 'W.A.R.' comes after what seems like a rather short break with another attempt to create a new sound for Monch.

Nearly every project Pharoahe has been involved in has been considered a classic. 'Desire' took awhile to warm up to, but eventually many realized the slower beats suited Monch's new style. It hard to say someone is taking it easy when an album has lyrical monuments like '?'. 'W.A.R.' seems like Pharoahe's first career misstep. The album isn't necessarily ba, rather it doesn't stand up to the lofty reputation Monch has created for himself over the past two decade. The big change on this record seems to come from Monch attempting to make his always clever wordplay actually say something relevant. His lyrics have always mirrored those of a battle rapper. On 'W.A.R.' they still do, but they also seem to reflect almost exclusively the paranoia that was voiced on his single 'Agent Orange'. Record executives and political figures are targets throughout the record and noted hip-hop conspirator Immortal Technique even makes an appearance. The issue is a lot of these tracks just don't represented the Pharoahe Monch most want to hear. The album just seems like it was too quickly pieced together around some concept Monch didn't fully flesh out.

'W.A.R.' is a solid hip-hop record. There are a number of great tracks which all seem to throw back to the sound established on 'Desire'. 'Black Hand Side' featuring Phonte and Styles P has a slow burning groove. Phonte as always impresses and Monch's wordplay off of both rappers works beautifully. Lead single 'Clap' is a great lyrical tour de force for Monch especially when it breaks down in the second half. 'Haile Salassie Karate' featuring Mr. Porter and LA based producer Samiyam has the best beat on the record.The choice of Samiyam shows once again Monch's constant knowledge of hip-hop even up to this day. Monch is still one of the best artists in hip-hop today. Inconsistency from an artist who has always been consistent just weighs the album downy. If any other rapper released 'W.A.R.' in 2011 it would probably be seen in a much more positive light. Hip-hop is notorious for stale tracks on albums and so boring filler like 'The Hitman' and the title track 'W.A.R.' would just seem typical. For Pharoahe though every word has always seemed so precise. Every guest spot Monch has ever done seems like yet another verse in his personal hall of fame. There are numerous moments where that occurs on 'W.A.R.', but something is still missing. The record isn't reaching the realms of adult contemporary though it feels predictable. For Pharoahe's fans nothing he has ever done was predictable. It is sad to finally see the unpredictable hero of lyricism finally write an album that is only good. I'll still be listening to this album for weeks, I just hope it stays as consistent as the man's other work has throughout my life.



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user ratings (75)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Deviant STAFF (3.5)
After a slew of recent landmark releases should Pharoahe be Worried About Relevancy?...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Hep Kat
March 22nd 2011



14022 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

word

Digging: Fucked Up - Year of the Dragon

Inveigh
March 22nd 2011



24192 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

word [2]

Digging: Symptom - Caverns Of Katabasis

Psilocyanide
March 22nd 2011



1823 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

words

Gyromania
March 22nd 2011



14653 Comments


The length of the typical rapper's career could easily be related to that of professional athlete.

a*

Good review, I'm starting to warm up to this album.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 22nd 2011



4830 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

i think we all agree here

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins®

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2011



17119 Comments


i like the title track. a lot. also you need to take the "ed" off of represented at the end of the
second paragraph.

Digging: Sad Lovers and Giants - Feeding the Flame

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2011



30300 Comments


Artists who once were seen as genre shaping have now become redundant slaves of auto tune attempting to.


Attempting to what?

It hard to say someone is taking it easy when an album has lyrical monuments like


*It's

The album isn't necessarily ba,


*bad

Monch has created for himself over the past two decade


*decades

artist who has always been consistent just weighs the album downy.


Don't know if you were going to end the sentence on down, but yeah






Digging: L'Orange - The Orchid Days

foreverendeared
March 22nd 2011



14678 Comments


Getting this asap.

Great review.

Maniac!
March 22nd 2011



26187 Comments


Deviant's should be featured instead imo

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2011



17119 Comments


eh, i like this review better. it just has a couple kinks in it that need to be edited.

TheOceanInside
March 23rd 2011



439 Comments


summary is how i life my life lol

DBlitz
March 23rd 2011



1685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

The issue is a lot of these tracks just don't represented the Pharoahe Monch most want to hear


agreed i think

SwayzeFaced
March 23rd 2011



336 Comments


true

mmfarva
March 24th 2011



1352 Comments


Weirdest moment was unexpectedly hearing Immortal Technique again, I haven't listened to him in years it seems.

captaincrunch11
March 24th 2011



1193 Comments


This is pretty good, not enough memorable tracks to be great.

defjaw83
March 24th 2011



1763 Comments


I'm really apprehensive towards this in case it really disappoints me. So much to live up to.

Guess I'll spin it tomorrow

Digging: Bonobo - The North Borders

HalfManHalfAmazing
March 24th 2011



565 Comments


is this actually good?

Psilocyanide
March 24th 2011



1823 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yes, just a little disappointing.

youneverlistened
June 1st 2011



1 Comments


Well written review. I'm gonna check this out



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