(AllHipHop Interviews) “Who put these pu**ies on top? Putting out that pu**y music. I call it pu**y pop,” raps Pharoahe Monch on his single “Bad MF.” The lyrical legend is challenging the status quo in Hip Hop with the track off his forthcoming P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) album.
Monch’s forth solo LP, due out on April 15th, features Talib Kweli, Black Thought, deNaUn, and Dr. Pete with production provided by Monch, Lee Stone, Marco Polo, Jesse West, Quelle Chris, and more. The New York emcee uses the conceptual project to reflect on his past struggles with depression and the current health of the music industry.
AllHipHop.com caught up with Pharoahe Monch to talk about P.T.S.D. and other subjects including possibly collaborating with Eminem, Hot 97’s Ebro Darden’s comments on Duck Down artists, and reuniting with his Organized Konfusion partner Prince Po.
The P.T.S.D. album starts off with a skit where a voice comes on and suggests that the character’s memory can be erased through a medical treatment like in the movie Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. If that technology was actually possible would you be open to using it to erase memories that you didn’t want anymore?
Each individual is different. I don’t have anything per se, but I’m sure people have experiences that they would [want to erase]. A lot of things I’ve experience have been a growing experience as well. When something is traumatic, I think people would really consider that. That’s why I put that in there. I am drawing from Eternal Sunshine and Total Recall to have this back story to the album.
What are some of your personal favorite concept albums?
Anything that De La Soul did in the past is inspirational. The last concept album The Roots did [Undun] was phenomenal. The Equinox by Organized Konfusion. As a rule, concept albums are taboo. I just feel like if you’re going to do an album it should be something that makes people sit down and listen to it or ride to it. Aside from that, I feel like I have songs on this album that are palpable outside of the framework like “Bad MF,” “Broken Again,” and “D.R.E.A.M.”
You reunited with Prince Po for Marco Polo’s “3 O’Clock” last year. Is there a possibility of a full Organized Konfusion project in the future?
We’ve doing some spot dates for the 20th anniversary of the Stress album. We did a show in New York. We’re doing a 4/20 show in L.A., and we’re releasing a Stress album instrumental as a twenty year special thing. As far as recording a new album, I don’t even think Pharoahe Monch is going to be doing another traditional album. I’m going to drift more to projects.
I’m working on a project with Georgia Anne Muldrow and different specialty s**t. It allows me to be even more experimental than I already am without having to combine this long-playing thing. I feel like I can get the fans more music that way.
Eminem name dropped you on “Rap God” and said you’re “ahead of your time.” Could we possibly see another Pharoahe Monch/Slim Shady collaboration in the future?
For me, that’s like a dream come true in terms of rap collaborations. When you think of those type of records and what you want to hear, I’m picky as f**k and I revere Em so highly I would just want it to be super f**king epic. Not even it just doing really well, cause obviously Pharoahe doesn’t give a f**k on that side. I just want it to be - aside from lyrics that you know would be f**king upper echelon - I would like people to be like “Oh, my god. It f**king changes and reverses into another beat, and it slows down and speeds up.” That type of thing.
When you released your song “Stand Your Ground” last year, the L.A. Times did a write-up on it where the paper basically stated it was amazed you were unafraid of potential blow-back from the song. The article also mentioned that it was contradictory to what they called “powerful rappers” focusing on money and fame. Would you like to see more high-profile artists in Hip Hop be more vocal on social issues?
I would like to see people be honest. If you’re not affected emotionally, and you’re not empathetic and sympathetic in the Trayvon situation, you don’t really give a s**t, then don’t do a record about it. Continue to do what you love to do. It’s the truth. It’s not propaganda or to be provocative. It hurt really bad.
I know it happens all the time, but in this particular case I’m like, “Come on man. I go to the gym. I wear a hood when it’s cold. That could be me. That could be my brother, my friend.” We sympathize with the family, but it's more of an ache like "when do we evolve everybody?" This is just some sh*t that we’ve been dealing with now for quite some time, and I don’t feel like we’re evolving past the situation at all.
So, it’s in my fabric to do that. Not to be a hero, but to express that hurt in my music. I wasn’t even finish when we released [“Stand Your Ground”]. It was just like people need to hear my sentiment on a song. If a million people hear it, fine. If five people get some relief or can relate, then fine.
Just like you don’t want to hear me rapping about how much money I got, I don’t want to hear no one who’s not really affected put their spin on it. You want it to be honest. If it’s honest, then we need it.
What did you think about Hot 97’s Ebro Darden saying Duck Down artists' music doesn’t appeal to women and that’s why they don’t get radio play?
That’s a ridiculous statement. I understand the sentiment, but we all know what woman want to hear. I think that’s not giving women respect on the other side either to say that women don’t like Wu-Tang or women don’t like any other songs that were heavy, hard-core, or not directly aimed at women. I think it’s about what’s good and what’s not good.
I get a portion of what Ebro is trying to say, but I think a lot of woman who do like Hip Hop also like good Hip Hop and funny Hip Hop and understand the difference. They know when the record is made directly for them like when the record is called “Hey, Boo Boo I wanna give you flowers.” They know when a record is, “Alright HOV, H to the O-V…” Just as many women liked that record as dudes.
You appeared on the Ultimate MC show. Are you interested in doing any more work on TV?
Film, writing, and behind the camera. I’m rocking this directorial debut for “Bad MF” [music video] which I want to see how people feel about that. I love media. I just want thought-provoking, intellectual, nerd media. [laughs]
Cerebral art is really popular right now. Look at shows like True Detective or Breaking Bad - these shows where you really have to sit and think and invest time in. Maybe that will convert to music as well which kind of leads into my last question. What do you think it will take to get “pu**y pop” from the top?
[Laughs] The truth is I’m about balance. Some of that stuff is fun, but to a certain extent. It just reaches so many levels of “alright already.” Where’s the balance, like you said, on the Breaking Bad or True Detective side? You don’t get the balance.
[“Bad MF”] is a statement to the artists, radio, labels, but also a social statement. Who’s really man enough to speak out, put their lives on the line for the views bigger than them? “Who put these pu**ies on top?” is about how I just don’t feel like we get that anymore. So it’s a bigger statement than just I think the music on the radio is wack.
Pharoahe Monch’s P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) will be released Tuesday, April 15th.
Follow Pharoahe Monch on Twitter @pharoahemonch
Watch the trailer for P.T.S.D. below.