Photo Source: Okayplayer.com
A year and half after the release of his first fully independent album PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Pharoahe Monch is hard at work on his next project. If the Queens, NY rapper’s claims about his recent studio efforts are true, fans have a lot to be excited about. We caught up with him to discuss his new project, the stresses of touring and life without a major label.
What have you been working on lately?
I’ve been really, really put in a lot of time in on a new project. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for some time now. But I felt like it would be in best interest of where I was at the time to work on WAR album and PTSD. But this project has been in my head for at least 10 years. Songs, ideas--I’m elated to just start making it come to fruition.
Why is now the perfect time to work on it after waiting ten years?
Before I did [W.A.R. and PTSD] I was going to delve into the record that I’m making right now and I think it’s perfect because I think it would have been too ahead of it’s time if I had done it seven years ago.
How far along are in the process of making this album?
I have done about ten records and for the first time I’m going to change my process. I usually never record one song that doesn’t make the album. I usually know exactly what I want the them to be so I just won’t work on anything unless it fits that scheme. Then I stitch it together like a film. So you could possibly film the ending scene first and the intro to a movie last but I know the parts already because it’s written in my head. Especially the concept records. I wouldn’t go into a concept record without having that concept mapped out. This project is way more raw and it’s hard and its head banger and live show. It’s a little more loose and organic. It feels more like Internal Affairs and I’m going to do a lot of recording because I’m in sort of a groove right now and I don’t want to stop. I want to keep going until I exhaust my ideas.
When did you get into this groove?
It was really frustrating because I had been on tour over this last year and half a lot and it’s really difficult for me to record on tour. So I would have pages of concepts, music ideas, riffs and melodies that I had in my head and I was just storing them in my head without a place to let them out. Meanwhile I was performing records that were relatively new so you have like 29 records in your head. I can’t even express how frustrating that is. So I recently took time off to vent. And it’s coming out like vomit so to speak. And I love that. It’s coming out with aggression and it’s a little pissed and I think people are going to be like ‘this is a totally different motherfucker from the last two records.’
Why should your fans be excited about the new stuff you are working on?
Internal Affairs, Desire, W.A.R. and PTSD are four totally different records and for me, I love to be surprised by the art and overwhelmed. I don’t want a predictable film. I hate listening to an MC and going “I know what you are going to rhyme that word with. I know what this album is about already before you put it out because you rap about the same shit every time.” One of the things that is exciting is the feel is very different.
Can you tell me anything about the concept of the new project?
I don’t want to speak about it. I don’t want to tell people what it’s about. I don’t want to tell people what it sounds like. Because I began to do that and I think that it’s whack because I know I judge things by how I feel as a fan and as artist. I know to some degree I want to know a little bit. But I feel like, One--there are a lot of biters in the industry now and two when I hear people talk about what [their album] is going to be I kind of have a voice in me that says “just shut the fuck up and put the album out and I’ll determine that when I hear it.” So it’s kind of me just struggling with myself. But I will say it’s clinically insane. It’s not Pharoahe Monch. It is 13 that embodies the voice and it’s aggressive.
What’s life been like working as an independent artist?
After SRC and Motwon, we wanted to do something that was grassroots that was right in the face of the people. I think at the time in the music industry when I was on a major I think the marketing missed a lot of kids because the music industry was making a transition. So when I went independent I was just like ‘let’s just make up this straight up raw record on this surface level and market it on this level. And we wound up outselling the major label record because it's about finding where people are. It’s the way information is disseminated and the amount of information that is out there. You could miss your favorite artist sometimes if you’re not paying attention or if you’re not online at the right time if there is high level marketing involved.
Can we expect to see anything new at A3C?
I’m working on it. I was thinking about debuting some shit but it’s such a departure from...I don’t (laughs). But the fly shit about is--and Nas was telling me this one time. The catalogue is so crazy right now that you could come to a show and hear me do just internal affairs and organized confusion shit. It’s just expansive so I haven’t even put the show together for A3C yet but I do have some dope ideas. I want it to be organic and artistic. But I don’t know if I am going to do anything new yet. Because it’s a whole different experience that this new shit is on and I’m an artist. To quote Erykah [Badu] I’m sensitive about the shit and the way I want it to be done. I want to present it a certain way. So if I’m at that point I will do it.
The show is going to be live. I got special guests that I can’t give away yet. But some of my favorite artists are jumping on stage. The show is going to be amazing. I lay it all out. I try not to touch stage unless I’m going to lay it all out. No one is going to be up there playing games. We’re definitely going to put it down.