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Monday, October 16, 2006

agent orange

Hip Hop is dead. It’s been said by many, and to an extent, I think it’s true. Nas himself made the call on his forthcoming album, and if you don’t think hip hop is at least on life support then you probably also think that the return of Nas, Hova, and Diddy will revive the genre. Whatever.

While I agree that hip hop is barely hanging on, there’s still a decent number of emcees out there that have stayed true to the genre and have kept it alive. Among them is Pharoahe Monch, former member of the venerated Organized Konfusion, and an emcee’s emcee. To me, Pharoahe stands out with lyrics that are consistently substantive and reach a level that few can touch. Lyrics about partying, bangin’, and women (which is about 90% of hip hop) are all cool, but really, it’s a little played out, done didded and old. Pharoahe’s lyrics, on the other hand, are reflective and socially conscious with a delivery and voice that is absolutely unmistakable. Best of all, Monch’s beats come hard and gritty, knocking you upside the head like the soundtrack to a revolution. Here's a taste of "Agent Orange":

[Hook 1]
Please lord forgive me for my sins
My life is all I have to give
Please lord forgive me for my sins
My life is all I have to give
Damn you that lost the will to live

[Verse 1]
Pissed on the motherfucking White House lawn
I threw a rock, then I ran
Cause I couldn't stand anymore within the grip of the man
Y'all wanna ask me who's sane
These biological gasses are eating my brain
Its a political grab bag to rape mother earth
Thirty seconds after they bagged dad for what he's worth
Thousands will die now so millions can smile later
This ain't the Rockford Files nigga
They stockpile data for satellites
Where you discuss who's style is greater
In this killing pool you playing it cool like Kyle Jada
When ya'll ready to rock like Led Zep and Al Qaeda
With weapons of mass destruction an hour later
What's your identity today?
You on some John F. Kennedy or Timothy McVeigh?
This Henessy done left me with a remedy to spray
For my identity your life is the penalty to pay

With an album slated for release this November, maybe hip hop’s future isn’t so bleak.

[MP3] Pharoahe Monch :: Agent Orange
(To me, this song is the epitome of Pharoahe Monch: thoughtful, militant, die-for-the-cause type lyrics over a bangin’ beat.)

[MP3] Pharoahe Monch :: Let’s Go
(Another anthem to a revolution, I love how he can pull songs like this off without coming off as preachy, kind of like an East Coast version of The Coup)

[MP3] Pharoahe Monch :: The Light
(Pharoahe takes a breather from the anthems on this one, showing his versatility with a hip hop love song. Not only that, but how many other emcees would say “She's off the hook, I would dress her decently.” What?! Decency in hip hop??!!?! Must’ve been a typo.)

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