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. That is, dragged hip-hop’s own Krusty The Clown, Busta Rhymes, away from one of his numerous guest-spots to, like, do a guest-spot on his album.
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 [a]Method Man[/a] on this record, along with Busta), New York’s [a]Pharoahe Monch[/a] 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 [I]”loops are similar to clitorises”[/I] and that most rappers [I]”ain’t fucking it right”[/I], 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 [I] “rub on your titties”[/I].
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.