Pharoahe Monch @ 93 Feet East, London 27/07/2006


By Sophia Jackson

One of hip hop’s finest underground lyricists, Pharoahe Monch, delivered an aggressively entertaining performance at East London’s 93 Feet East, last Thursday. The East London gig was part of a mini European tour which included Belgium, France, Germany and Amsterdam.


Pharoahe Monch, real name Troy Jamerson, proved that he was more than a one album wonder and as soon as he made his entrance at 10 pm, the crowd were instantly hyped. However, the sweat box of a venue proved to be no hindrance to the support he got from his fans. We all had nothing but love to give as we shared the pre-release celebration of Monch’s long, long awaited second album. Hailing from Queens, New York, Pharoahe Monch and his powerful backing singers gave a tight performance from start to finish of his 30-minute slot. The half hour treat was a mix of the old and new as Monch belted out songs from his first album ‘Internal Affairs’ which was released way back in 1999 and the new, unreleased but highly-anticipated album ‘Desire’.


Pharoahe Monch was a former member of the New York City duo Organized Konfusion alongside Prince Poetry. They released three critically-acclaimed but financially shamed albums on the underground scene. From 1991, Monch honed his distinct reputation for delivering some of underground hip hop's most on point lyrics. Yet it’s a mystery that he isn’t bigger than he is.  In 1997, Pharoahe opted to join forces with independent label Rawkus, which has since been taken over by Geffen. 


On the night, the first song he performed was the controversially titled ‘F*ck You’ which was later changed to ‘Got You’, a track guaranteed to get any party started. Hearing tracks from his seven-year-old album highlighted exactly what kind of classic anthems had materialised from this wordsmith. They still sounded fresh and acted as a reminder of what hip hop used to be. However, at this point he made his sentiments on war and George Bush clear, and the crowd readily joined him in chants of ‘F*ck George Bush!’ which ended with cheers and applause when Pharoahe said ‘F*ck where we’re from, it’s where we’re at’. He then continued with ‘Right Here’ and ‘Queens’. At the end of the ‘Queens’ track, Monch did the obligatory tribute to some of hip hop’s late, great, ‘fallen soldiers’ as he described them. The roll call included ODB, Eazy-E, Big Pun and Big L but instead of a moment of silence he insisted on a moment of noise. The crowd obliged. The moment of noise was followed by ‘Oh No’, the track from the ‘Lyricist Lounge, Volume II’ compilation, which also features Mos Def and Nate Dogg.


Continuing on the classic trail, Pharoahe’s next offering was ‘My Life’. It was now time to introduce something new and he hit us with ‘Push’ from the new album, which gave his backing singers a chance to show off their skills. This track is going to blow up. It’s kind of jazz sounding and shows of his varied vocal talents too.


Also from the new album was a performance of ‘Desire’, which is the title track of the new album. Monch then gave a shout-out to the tunes’ producer Alchemist. Last but not least, was of course ‘Simon Says’. There’s something empowering about shouting ‘get the f*ck up’ at the top of your lungs. It’s the perfect way of venting any venom or anger you’ve had building up and giving your lungs and tonsils a bit of a work out. So, if Simon says ‘Get the F*ck up’, who am I to argue? It’s hard to believe that this same performer sensitively asked revellers at the front of the intimate venue to ‘refrain from smoking’.


Deciding to ending on ‘Simon Says’ was a good move, as it left the crowd on an exhausted high. Pharoahe Monch’s new album’Desire’ is set for release later this year under Street Records Corporation. Saying patience is a virtue is an understatement in Pharoahe Monch’s case, but as they say, all good things come to…





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