Pharoahe Monch is a gun, one of the very few rappers that after a long career keeps releasing innovative albums. Who else 10 years after their debut album brings out a classic hip hop joint like 'Simon Says'? It just doesn't happen on the most part a MC has a 2 or 3 album halflife. So this being Pharoahe Monch's fifth outing I was reserved when it was first announced, well I couldn't help but be excited but I knew what the odds were of this comparing to his finest works.
Desire is that fifth album for the ex Organized Konfusion member and from the very first bar of the very first track (well past the intro) I knew this was going to be something special. Rather than try to capitalise on the sound that made him so popular Pharoahe rolled the dice and moved forward.
Influences of Gospel, Soul and Jazz shine through in the music complemented by some crazy singing both by Monch and guest vocalists. On occasion the singing is the focus of the track like on the lead single Push and it is to Pharoahe's credit the way it has been handled, not at any stage do these come off as RnB joints. The same creativity that made Monch one of the best rappers to ever bless a mic has been applied to every aspect of this album.
Production wise this is an incredible album it has the smoothness you would expect from the influences Monch takes onboard, but it also has the intricacy you would only expect from someone looking outside of the square, for example an electric guitar pops up with perfect timing behind a jazz loop.
Making a song that should be technically classified as RnB appeal to hip hoppers without question is a huge creative endevour, but that's the least of his achievements with Desire.
The one that stands out to me as creativity at it's best is the reworking of Public Enemy's 'Welcome To The Terrordome'. The first verse stays as Chuck D originally delivered it of course with Pharoahe's trademark flow and the second verse refelects more current world events. More than the vocals the reworking of the beat is amazing with the Bomb Squads grinding guitar being replaced with a more mellow version and the horns being updated with a much smoother sample that fits the vibe of the album.
Desire still has it's straight up O.K style rap tracks and Pharoahe is every bit the MC he was on his first release. Unlike other albums released by pioneers of the rap game this is not a wank fest of reminicent tracks celebrating a career, this is an album thats shows who the artist is today and where he is heading in the future. Sleep on this at your peril.
Take a look at the clip for the 50's swing influenced 'Body Baby'