Pharoahe Monch loves high quality rap – listening to it, making it, sharing it, studying it. As the Queens, New York rapper enjoys the release of his new album W.A.R. (We Are Renegades), we sat down with him recently to talk about his top five collaborations.
5. Pharoahe Monch featuring Jean Grae and Royce Da 5’9” – Assassins
Pharoahe Monch: It’s my new favorite song. On the song, I’ve hired these assassins to help me infiltrate the corporate world of the Matrix and steal the information and the technology needed to beam my album out to the world and these are the two people I hired to help me do that.
Jean just goes crazy on it. I was on tour with Slaughterhouse and Royce wrote his verse there in the hotel room and recorded it in Canada.
4. Pharoahe Monch featuring Common and Talib Kweli – The Truth
Pharoahe Monch: It was one of my most talked about songs lyrically. It was one of my biggest collaborations. The amazing thing about that is I had my verse and Common and Kweli pretty much wrote in the studio and wrote amazing, amazing verses for that song and that’s what blew me away about it.
But it was like stay in line, stay on topic with what the truth means to you.
It wouldn’t have been easy for me. Matter of fact, I talked to Common that day about how he had mastered the art of doing that because to this day I like to spend time on songs and he had said it had gotten to the point with him where people were asking him to be on stuff that he really needed to be on and wanted to be on, but he had gotten so busy that he had to take a flight the next day and it had gotten to the point where he was like, “I really need to be on this song” and got in the habit of forcing himself to do that.
3. Talib Kweli featuring Black Thought and Pharoahe Monch – Guerilla Monsoon Rap
Pharoahe Monch:It was a dream lineup with the concept. I went in the studio and laid my verse and Kanye [West, who produced the song] came later.
The way it was put together, it was a real interactive-not-everybody-there-at-the-same-time experience. I think it came out pretty fucking dope. [All of us not being in the studio together], it didn’t affect [the song] at all because the roles were laid out.
That’s what you do with songs anyway. You want to get the guys to play their roles and you actually get the collaboration in that manner for that reason. You’re really just bouncing back and forth and you really need to do what is necessary for you to do.
2. Mos Def & Pharoahe Monch featuring Nate Dogg - Oh No
Pharoahe Monch: It was me and Mos’ collaboration and every other collaboration prior to that was, “This is the beat. I want you to jump on this song with me that I’m doing.”
This is the first mutual stand, but the label was like, “We need this to happen and we would like you guys to do a song, so let’s work on something.” I picked the beat from Rockwilder.
Mos murdered his verse, said it to me over the phone and told me that he was thinking about, ideally, getting Nate Dogg on the chorus. I’m a huge Nate Dogg fan and was at the time, but it struck me as dope challenge, but really?
That came from left field. I finally heard the chorus and was like, “Oh my god. This just took the song to a whole ‘nother level.” I remember laying the verse in the studio with Rockwilder in Manhattan and doing the take and being so in sync with one of the takes that it got to me emotionally, just on how it hit, how it was pocketed.
I’m sort of emotional like that. It’s not a sad song, but it resonated. They were pretty taken aback by it in the studio, so it was a beautiful moment.
1. Organized Konfusion featuring O.C. – Fudge Pudge
Pharoahe Monch: That was my first time working with O.C. Really, it was the first collaboration, working with another MC outside of the group, even though he was family.
I think it was the first song that he did that got distributed and put out there by a label. That made it special, seeing him come up and grow.
For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker
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