(AllHipHop Features) Don’t call it a comeback, but Hip Hop collective Army of the Pharaohs has returned after a four-year hiatus with the new album In Death Reborn.
The group’s fourth LP features contributions from Vinnie Paz, Esoteric, Apathy, Crypt, Planetary, Reef the Lost Cauze, Celph, Blacastan, Doap Nixon, Blacastan, Des Devious, Demoz, V-Zilla, King Magnetic, and Lawrence Arnell.
The supergroup was originally put together in 1998 by Vinnie and went on to release The Torture Papers, Ritual of Battle, The Unholy Terror, and The Five Perfect Exertions EP. Their latest project is a 14-track album that includes hard-hitting production from Frank Grimes, C-Lance, and several others.
New music from Army of the Pharaohs will not end with In Death Reborn. There are already plans to drop a follow-up this November. Also, Apathy is set to release a solo album in June followed by Czarface later this year. Projects from Reef and King Syze are currently available as well.
Three members of AOTP connected with AllHipHop.com. Esoteric, Vinnie Paz, and Apathy speak on reuniting, conspiracy theorists’ beliefs they are connected to “devil worshipping” or the “Illuminati,” and underground versus mainstream Hip Hop.
On reuniting after four years:
Esoteric: I don’t think we look at it as a reunion since we’ve never really strayed too far, being that we pop up on a lot of each other’s albums. It starts with Vinnie really, because even though he’d never admit it, he’s the big dog. When he starts sending beats around, we all start gearing up for another AOTP record.
With this one we got together in person about seven months ago, shooting a few videos in Philly for my solo record “The Danger” which featured Vinnie, Celph, and Ap… lots of the other Pharaohs came out too like Planetary, Reef, and Blacastan to shoot another video off the same project. I think getting together in one room helped build energy you can’t convey over the phone or computer. From there it snowballed.
Vinnie Paz: It was just time. Timing is everything.
On In Death Reborn being put together differently from other AOTP projects:
VP: I’m not sure it was intended to be a different approach. I just think we’ve grown as artists and people, and we realized that there is a better way to streamline the project to make it easier on everyone.
On comments the group’s subject matter represents occultism, devil worshipping or the “Illuminati”:
E: My favorite Big L record was called “Devil’s Son,” and he’s not a devil worshipper. He’s just using that as a vehicle to explain how crazy, unorthodox and how unlike the rest he is. That is what Hip Hop is about, being deadly with the pen, being creative and original. Sometimes you can’t just knock on a door, you need to get that swat team battering ram and bash the door in.
Inflammatory language will always rattle people. Our music is for the insiders who already get that concept. People that would equate us with the devil are people who never listened to hardcore Hip Hop before.
Apathy: A lot of conspiracy theorists misunderstand us. They take a lot of stuff too literally and look for Illuminati messages in Doritos chips. We’ve been spitting about the same s**t for seventeen years now. It’s not a shocker what we do.
VP: My response? You can’t argue with a fool. That’s my response.
On how the music landscape has changed for indie artists since AOTP first came on the scene:
VP: It’s completely changed. Everyone is a rapper now. Everyone has a Twitter and Facebook page promoting their mediocre product. It’s the Wild West out here right now.
On the current state of both underground and mainstream Hip Hop:
E: As with anything else, there is quality stuff at every level and horrible stuff at every level. The culture has certainly devolved since me and Vinnie would link at the Rock Steady Anniversary in the mid 90’s and take in all the b-boying and graf and what NYC legends had to offer. That was the blueprint for us, but things change, music hotbeds relocate, and only the strong survive. That’s why we are still here.
Listen, I can dig the most vapid, unintelligible trap s**t if I’m in the right setting, because it’s got that bass that has me bouncing or has my head nodding. If I’m out in a club or something and one of these ridiculous records come on that have no substance, I’m probably gonna be wiling out like everybody else… I won’t be returning back to a dimly lit basement to write a 16 about how I hate it. I’m gonna enjoy it, because I feel the vibe or associate it with girls or nightlife or whatever because I know how music changes, and I know what I bring to the table when I’m at bat – an alternative to that.
VP: It’s hard for me to answer that. I don’t really listen to “underground rap.” In fact, I don’t even know what that means anymore. The first thing that comes to mind is a bad rapper. [laughs]
Army Of The Pharaohs new album In Death Reborn is now available on iTunes.
[ALSO CHECK OUT: LP Stream: Army Of The Pharaohs “In Death Reborn”]