Pharoah Monch
“Simon Says” may have been a “monster” hit for Pharaohe Monch, but that’s just the blueprint for his next album about to drop. “Desire”, hitting stores in January, is already being one of the most anticipated hip-hop albums of 2007. From Organized Konfusion to his new deal at Universal, check out this exclusive Pharoahe drops on WHO?MAG.
Interview by Rob Schwartz

WHO?MAG: Tell us about the single PUSH?
PHAROAHE MONCH: To me, it sounds like something straight from the mid-seventies. The sample is from the mid-seventies from a gospel song, so I tried to implement the same type of feel spiritually and inspirationally. I tried to use Tower of Power and use some of the same horns and vocals to give it some of the same feel.

WHO?MAG: How did you get with Organized Konfusion?
PHAROAHE MONCH: We met in high school and started just doing demos and it turned out to be more than we expected. We let some people hear it and they told us it was pretty damn good. We were originally just doing it for the love. It went from high school, to the lunch tables, to a record deal.

WHO?MAG: How did you get with Universal Records?
PHAROAHE MONCH: I was recently release from my deal with Rawkus/Geffen and toured and played a lot of new music. I came back last year and was basically looking to land a new deal. I had a couple of choices, but this seemed to be the best fit for the kind of music that I wanted to put out.

WHO?MAG: Did you expect the single “Simon Says” to be such a huge hit?
PHAROAHE MONCH: No, I didn’t expect that, but I did feel like it moved me in a way that I thought would translate to people well. When working on the beat I was like “oh my god, this has an image to it that I have never felt before in hip-hop!”

WHO?MAG: So how did the whole Godzilla theme come about?
PHAROAHE MONCH: Just being an avid fan of monster movies. A friend of mine hit me up with some movie from a movie soundtrack.

WHO?MAG: So what’s going to make DESIRE different than INTERNAL AFFAIRS?
PHAROAHE MONCH: I feel it has grown just like I have. That’s the beauty of following your favorite artist. They get married, they get divorced, they fall in love, they get hurt, they go to jail, they experience so much and have transitions through life. You get to experience that whether you ride with them or not. What makes it different is it’s a natural progression for me to grow spiritually, not even on a religious level, but a level where it’s just common sense and it’s natural. I feel a lot of that has been implemented in to the album. Not in a preachy way, but in a way of just let me bring you along the path that I am on. Production wise, I have Mr. Denaun Porter executive producing the record and The Alchemist on production. I experimented vocally by singing on some things. It’s just real old and not a safe record at all.

WHO?MAG: How do you feel about the rap industry now verse when Organized Konfusion was out?
PHAROAHE MONCH: The biggest difference was back then, I was more of a fan. There used to be more cats with more of a flow with more originality and musical style. Now, people use the same producers and the flows are getting a little redundant. Your legends are always going to stay different, like you have your Snoops, Dre is Dre, Eminem is Eminem, Jay-Z is Jay-Z, and Nas is Nas, but as far as a lot of the new artists, a lot of it sounds very similar.

WHO?MAG: So if that’s the case, where would you like to see the music industry go?
PHAROAHE MONCH: It’s going in the direction already, because record sales are already at an all time low. The record industry has changed as a result, you have Tower Records going out of business and there’s this whole internet thing. When it becomes that, it’s not the influence of your click or who you run with. It will be based back to proving to the people that you are worthy of purchasing your record because you can download a record now. The industry will change dramatically and it will be about integrity again and differentiate different artists from the pack which will bring about good music again.

WHO?MAG: So how did the collab with Mos Def and Nate Dogg come about?
PHAROAHE MONCH: The label wanted collaboration for the album with me and Mos. Mos, being the genius that he is, came up with the idea to get Nate up on the record. I asked if he was serious because I was a Nate Dogg fan, but I couldn’t hear him on this beat. Then Nate laid his chorus and I was like “Holy Sh*t”, it’s brilliant! I’m a big Nate Dogg fan and he just puts it down every time.

WHO?MAG: What’s next for Pharaohe Monch?
PHAROAHE MONCH: What’s next for me is this album “Desire” which is a very big album which is politically charged and a socially soulful record. It lands in January. We’re coming in December with a short film for a single called “When The Gun Draws”.