Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album
Hey, what a surprise. In a bid to take his caustic, stripped-down rap emissions overground, one-time Organized Konfusion kingpin [a]Pharoahe Monch[/a] has done the inevitable...
It's becoming a rap short cut to some kind of mainstream notoriety to let that fool grunt over your Casio beats but it ain't gonna work this time. For all that he's revered among hip-hop cognoscenti (evidenced by the presence of Redman, Common, Canibus and Method Man on this record, along with Busta), New York's Pharoahe Monch is far too lyrically and sonically glowering to appeal beyond the hardcore B-boy squad killing time between Wu-Tang releases.
His rhymes are ambiguous, which is dangerous in hip-hop, especially when you name one cut 'The Ass' and another 'Rape'. The key to the latter is a convoluted metaphor about how "loops are similar to clitorises" and that most rappers "ain't fucking it right", but any more intelligent exegesis is undercut by the tasteless use of samples of screaming women throughout the track. The baiting of ignorant playa thugs is also thrown into doubt during 'Simon Says', as Monch savours the seemingly ironic chorus which implores all the girls to "rub on your titties".
He attempts to make amends for his equivocalness by going all R&B croonsome on 'The Light', a track which, like pounding opener 'Intro', at least proves undeniably his credentials as a producer, as it mixes sinister strings and rippling Latino guitar to bittersweet effect. But he's better in the urban murk of 'Behind Closed Doors' or the dazzling blaxploitation drama 'No Mercy', where he stops striking dubious poses and just tells it as he sees it. And he sure as hell don't need Busta's help for that.
The film adaptation of R.L. Stine's classic horror novels is shockingly enjoyable
A defiantly bangerless take-me-seriously-as-an-artist album that reveals new charms every time you spin it
The utterly gripping story of how The Boston Globe exposed child abuse within the Catholic church
Hitmaker-for-hire makes a silk purse out of songs rejected by Rihanna, Adele and others