Today, April 15th, lauded rap innovator Pharoahe Monch takes the stage at B.B. King for the release party of his new album PTSD. Along with his years as one-half of celebrated rap duo Organized Konfusion, Monch has further cemented his legacy with a series of solo records and scene-stealing guest appearances which have earned a devoted fanbase that’s followed him from his years at Rawkus to his current run with Duck Down.
With such a prolifically potent output, it’s understandable if you missed one or two of his excellent appearances. To right this wrong, here’s five excellent Pharoahe Monch verses you may have missed.
Organized Konfusion — “Stress (Extra P Remix)” 1994
This year, Organized Konfusion’s landmark sophomore album Stress: The Extinction Agenda turned 20. While many remember the classic title track, Main Source’s Large Professor laced them with an incredible “Stress” remix. Boasting a brand new beat with entirely new verses, as the best remixes do, the production compliments Monch and partner Prince Po perfectly, giving them an excellent platform that played ideally to their strengths.
Sway and King Tech featuring RZA, Tech N9ne, Eminem, Xzibit, Pharoahe Monch, Kool G. Rap, Jayo Felony, Chino XL and KRS-ONE — “Wake Up Show Anthem ’99” 1999
A cluttered end of the millennium posse cut that would cost an obscene amount of money to produce even three years later, this assortment of guests from beloved hip-hop program The Wake Up Show displayed how diverse the hip-hop underground map was in 1999. Smack dab in the middle was Pharoahe Monch with an ear splitting verse that boldly asked “Why did he have to die like cast metal?” It’s an absolute rap clinic in one song.
Rah Digga featuring Pharoahe Monch and Lord Have Mercy — “Tight (Remix)” 2000
Post-“Simon Says,” Pharoahe Monch guest appearances were in high demand. Our favorite of this era happened to be on the first lady of the Flipmode Squad Rah Digga’s “Tight” remix. Essentially a trinity of woefully underappreciated MCs, Digga and Mercy both slaughter their verses, but Monch’s firm control over his erratic staccato flow is one of the most jaw-dropping moments of his career.
Linkin Park featuring Pharoahe Monch — “H! VLTG3” 2002
You didn’t read that wrong. While not quite as bizarre as M.O.P.’s song with L.F.O. or Haylie Duff’s track with Kool G. Rap, Pharoahe Monch popping up on a Linkin Park remix album was pretty surprising. Nevertheless, Monch does anything but phone it in, being definitively Monch without particularly disrupting the Linkin Park sound. The cutting up of Grand Puba saying “Lincoln Park” is a nice touch as well.
Pharoahe Monch — “Agent Orange” 2003
Finally, perhaps the most known track on this list, but for all the wrong reasons. The first single from Monch’s hotly anticipated and never released sophomore album Inner-Visions, “Agent Orange” has come to represent the disappointments of the Rawkus era. Despite these unfortunate circumstances, “Agent Orange” is pretty excellent. Starting with a reworking of his verse on Organized Konfusion’s “Releasing Hypnotical Gasses,” Monch captures the frustration of Iraq War America with the knuckle-snapping tension of his verses.
Pharoahe Monch performs tonight at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 15, 2014