Pharoahe Monch is one of rap music’s most unappreciated and underrated gems. Inspired by the likes of Rakim and KRS-One, the Queens emcee is one of the few New York artists who didn’t receive notoriety during the 1990s for his gritty style and exquisite lyricism.
Monch (born Troy Jamerson) is a wordsmith who focuses on fundamental issues. Devoid of the meaningless materialistic nonsense that has captured the hip-hop genre, Jamerson’s music was so potent and presented such a harsh reality it, most likely, would have never crossed into the Top 40.
Just like Mos Def or Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch’s lyrical complexity is too much for label executives who want the dumbed-down version and too politically and racially charged for any corporation to want their hands on it.
Golden-age hip-hop fans and fans of conscious Afro-centric music will know that artists like Pharoahe Monch epitomise hip-hop. However, their lack of success shows what type of rap music they want to push. Jamerson is by far the one of hip-hop’s most hidden gems.
As such a lyrical force it is intriguing for fans of Monch to learn about his influences and in an interview with SPIN magazine the New York native revealed some of his favourite acts.
When asked what he considers the best rap album of all time, Jamerson replied, This answer changes quite often obviously, but because of the greatness that is the song ‘A Friendly Game Of Baseball’ from the classic album Breaking Atoms by Main Source. I’m gonna have to rep for Queens and the TDOT. The ominous Lou Donaldson sample used for the backdrop hits home every time!”
He continued, “Not only does the song metaphor my favourite sport brilliantly, but it takes on the wicked system that oppressed black people to this day, at one of the most crucial times in our country’s history. Songs like ‘Peace Is Not The Word To Play’ still resonate and hold up in 2023. Also being a fan of comics, and all my comic collectors will get get this reference.”
You can listen to Breaking Atoms below.