Published on June 28th, 2011 | by Queso0
Review: W.A.R. – Pharoahe Monch
The first thing I thought about while purchasing Pharoahe Monch’s W.A.R. was Lupe Fiasco’s L.A.S.E.R.S. (Check out the LASERS review by DB.) Leading up to the release of L.A.S.E.R.S., Lupe built this image of it being a revolutionary, fight-the system type of album. Needless to say I was disappointed. So, you can imagine how interested I was in W.A.R. after seeing “The Warning” feat Idris Elba and how hopeful I was it wouldn’t be a loser.
Lo and behold, Pharoahe delivers. This album puts a scope on society, while displaying Pharoahe’s lyrical excellence. Upon first listen, you’ll find yourself blown away by his delivery. The style in which he weaves his words is a caliber limited to a list I’m sure I can count on one hand. Yes, he’s that good! But, he’s not just sounding cool—he has a message.
One of the first things you’ll notice about W.A.R. is that Pharoahe puffs his chest a bit . . . which he has the right to do. I never listened to Internal Affairs much (go ahead and load your guns), but Desire quickly became one of my favorite albums. While most artists were dropping tracks about how fly, pimp, gangster, untouchable they are, Pharoahe was being critical of the world we’re in and delivering complex lines, all while remaining one of the most underrated artists alive. He does the same now, but begins with other rappers and himself:
Yes, how many gorillas swag who actually killers really rhyming
Artists that actually signed still killing
And when it comes to killing the mic, they not willing
and I’m supposed to be shook . That’s the shit that kill me
But, he can’t simply tell you he’s good. You can get so lost in his unorthodox rhyme scheme, that you miss much of what he’s saying. It probably doesn’t help that he can load so much into a few verses. Just enjoy a master at work on the first listen and have Google at your fingertips the next time around.
Lyrics posted in this review can’t recreate the passion or complexity in the tracks. Tracks talk about popular media, a fictional group of assassins and living in his neck of the woods. At the same time, he will reference things many people don’t know about, such as, victims of police brutality, wrongfully accused, and RU-486.
Independently, production doesn’t stick out. This makes it amazing. The vocals and beats match well on every track. “Evolve” has an epic feeling, “Let My People Go” sounds like a call to action, and “Assassins” (feat. Jean Grae and Royce Da 5’9”) has a very aggressive sound. Beats don’t always have to stick out and should often match the mood, as they do on this album. If you skip tracks on the album, you may find yourself thinking that the track selection doesn’t match up. But, listen from beginning to end, and W.A.R. has a very nice flow.
Many people will consider W.A.R. an album with great lyricism. Some may consider it to be borderline militant or paranoid with anti-establishment lyrics and talk about what some consider conspiracy theories. But there’s more metaphor than militarism. It as opposing the complacency with fucked up situations in society. “Get used to usage of a backwards euphamism.”
If W.A.R. does anything, it should make you more aware. It is a wealth of information delivered with amazing finesse. It’s an artist spitting “straight form the soul, goddamnit.” The guest list includes performances from Immortal Technique, Showtyme, Styles P, Phonte, Mela Machinko, Jean Grae, Royce Da 5’9”, Citizen Cope, and Jill Scott. You can’t often find a great album with high quality delivery and message. In this, you get both and then some.