Blasting onto the scene with his follow up to 2007’s critically acclaimed Desire, Pharoahe Monch proves once again why he’s one of the most respected M.C’s in Hip-Hop. Four years is a long time in between material, yet Monch makes it very clear that he hasn’t been resting on his laurels. Forceful, intricate, bizarre, witty, and fun, W.A.R. (We Are The Renegades) is one of those rare albums that has immaculate production values yet retains the rawness of a basement freestyle session.
While it may take a few listens to completely absorb, Monch’s unique delivery packs a punch on every track, even overshadowing the shocking amount of quality guest talent, including Styles P, Immortal Technique, and Phonte. While most M.C.’s tend to rhyme to the beat itself, Monch often derails, a wordsmith to the fullest, his flows spilling out of line with the music as he makes his lyrical digressions. At times it can be a little hard to handle. It’s a refreshing look back at the good old days of that Rawkus Records flavor, and his patented style of unadulterated, tongue-in-cheek bravado is alive and well. God help the producer who has to keep up.
Maneuvering seamlessly from serious commentary on the state of Hip-Hop on tracks like “Evolve” (a standout that, sadly, hasn’t been issued as a single), to world affairs (“The Grand Illusion”), to satire (“Let My People Go”), Pharoahe Monch lets us know that, whatever the subject, give him a beat and he’ll knock it out of the park.
All in all, W.A.R. is a brilliant showcase of pure Hip-Hop, and further showcases the talent of a man at the peak of his artistic superiority. Get out your rhyming dictionaries, kids. This one’s going to be hard to beat.
W.A.R. receives a PARLÉ
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