For our first episode of the year, the RUN GPG Podcast welcomed Troy Jamerson, AKA Pharoahe Monch! With a distinguished career spanning more than three decades, Monch has worked with some of the biggest names in hip-hop, jazz, soul, and alternative rock.
Growing up in Queens, New York nurtured Pharoahe’s creative spirit. He attended art school and was always interested in graphic design and photography. He fell in love with hip-hop at the right time, early in its history.
“I was fortunate to fall in love with hip-hop during the time where it was becoming a cultural revolution,” Pharoahe said on the podcast.
The Grammy-winning rapper is universally known for his complex lyrics, intricate delivery, and multisyllabic wordplay.
In an interview with radio personality Sway Calloway, Eminem called Pharoah “incredible” and “ahead of his time.”
More incredible is the fact that Pharoahe became a an accomplished hip-hop icon despite suffering from asthma.
We talk about that and a lot more on this episode including the following:
- Growing up in Queens, New York.
- Earliest musical influences.
- Where Pharoahe’s hip-hop journey began.
- The Hip-Hop history of Queens and where it’s distinct style comes from.
- How movies like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Joker helped Pharoahe’s creative process recently.
- Pharoahe aims to create music with a longer shelf life.
- Commitment to the ever-changing paradigm that has the music industry pushing to the forefront the “low-hanging fruit of disposable artists.”
- How asthma affected and helped Pharoahe’s career.
- Pharoahe’s fascination with the number 13.
- The dystopian themes of his recent work.
- What would Pharoahe have become if he wasn’t a musician?
- Pharoahe’s dream dinner is with two great leaders and a famed musician.
- What legacy does Pharoahe want to leave behind in the music industry?
- Collaborations that stand out.
For the latest episode of the RUN GPG Podcast and to check out the other notable guests and episodes visit here.
Contact Pharoahe Monch
Website – https://www.pharoahe.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pharoahemonch
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGqx9c4CHFdNtAZJzvv1Wow
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/pharoahemonch/?hl=en
Twitter – https://twitter.com/pharoahemonch
Contact David Morrell
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/thegreaterdavid
Twittter – https://twitter.com/fearofdavid
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Pharoahe Monch - Podcast Transcript
Universally recognized for his mastery of multi-syllable wordplay. Pharoahe Monch is considered a hip hop and musical icon, but the career spanning more than three decades during that 30 year journey, he has stayed committed to the culture of lyricism and hip hop in an ever-changing paradigm that has the music industry pushing to the forefront.
The low hanging fruit of disposable artists. Pharaohe is a Grammy award winner who is consistency and talent. As an artist has led him to collaborating with some of the most recognizable names and creatives in hip hop, jazz and alternative music. We’re excited to talk about his incredible career. Some highlights, the creative process, maybe a little state of the union, what he’s doing now, and a lot more with the one and only Pharoahe.
Monch welcome to the run GPG podcast. Peace, peace, peace.
Yeah, well, it’s your, it’s your bio man. It’s your bio. And you know, there is so much, I do want to talk to you about, today, but to start with, as we always say on the show, we want to paint the picture a little bit, and get a brief, you know, pre feral biography, which will give us some context for our discussion.
So to break the ice, take us back to the beginning. Who was, who is Troy Jimerson? AKA Pharoahe Monch where are you from? Where did you grow up? Oh, man, I grew up right here in Queens, New York to make the Queens in New York, kind of a rough side of town, but kind of best of both worlds in that, parents were there and encouraging, Ms. Was kinda, you know, that place was kind of the hub for, creativity around organized. And the early days of me, getting into hip hop, I’ve always been an artist, went to art school, high school, art and design took up a computer graphics and photography, architecture, and all these different art courses.
They had news rotationals that they would have before you would pick your major. So I, I dabbled a little bit and a lot of the arts and just during that timeframe fell in love with hip hop. I was fortunate to fall in love with it at that time, because it was still like a cultural revolution in the sense that, you know, it, wasn’t just trying to, trying to get signed, for record deals. It was just the explosion. Fashion and that there’s some aspect of the breaking and DJs and graffiti and the whole thing. And so since I was immersed in it from that stamp, It kind of, gave me a respect, you know, for all of the elements, which I still hold to this day. It was about finding my voice as an artist and, you know, setting the goals high way back then, which I think I can attribute to longevity, you know, even like digging for records back then, you know, Jazz rock wreckage and breaks from the seventies. You know, it lets you know that, there was really good music that stood the test of time, even though you’re going through James Brown and you know, you’re looking at the dates and you’re like, man, this stuff is 15, 10, 20 years old and it’s still. Resonate. So we’re still spending enough sampling it.
It made me think about what a long-term career would look like as opposed to looking at it like a fad or just something to do for summer too. So I always had my eyes set on the 25, 30 year long haul and the end game of it all. Yeah. Thanks for breaking that down. It’s really interesting. When you talk to creatives, artists, musicians, sometimes they don’t actually start.
You know where they are now, the, you know, they started in some other aspect of it and, you know, It was my next question, which was, what was your earliest musical influences? Like, I mean, generally people of our age, you know, I, you know, I grew up with hip hop, but you know, hip hop when you started was not, it’s not like it was around for, you know, decades before that.
So, you know, your musical influences as you meant, you mentioned James Brown, some jazz, what are some other musical influences early in your life that you remember distinctly? I was also kind of lucky because it was all different music flowing throughout the house. You know, my oldest brother, rest in peace was, was heavy into classic rock, deep purple smoke on the water. All right. Classic rock stuff as well. And then later went into like classics of Coltrane and miles. And I was young, but I was watching all these stages and that’s how, you know, what I was influenced by cold train, but just just black church gospel vocals preach a vocal, but also heavy, heavy, heavy rock vocals and rock breaks as well. So I was immersed in the whole gamut, like the whole thing. And I’m lucky for that as well. Is there another reason why I gravitated towards hip hop out of all the genres is the one that requires you to have, to be a really good DJ, to have knowledge of all these different, you know, genres. Whereas if you become a master in jazz, you really need to study that in and out, come a master hip hop producer, or a DJ.
You really need to be, pretty well-rounded in all of these categories to be a grand master or just know yet music. Right. You think about the early stages? It was a lot of. You know, um, Billy Squier breaks a lot of the bands that we were finding breaks far more DJs was fighting breaks from back then was rock group. So you needed to dig everywhere and know everything. That influences coming through on your latest projects, which we’ll talk about in a moment here. I think that’s evident for sure. So take us back again. Like where did your actual journey in hip hop begin? Like, you know, did you start off as an emcee and start battle rapping and you know, like maybe your first record deal, where did it start?
Um, like I said, I wanted to be a break dancer. I was too top heavy to get on the floor and do spins. I was like, you suck at that. And then we would play beats and, you know, do a little wraps and stuff. And I wrote some raps and laid them down at a friend’s house. Like in real time. Kind of no record that took the tape home and listened to it.
You know, my part came up and I was like, yo, you really suck, bro. Like, this is terrible in that moment. I felt lucky though, to realize that I can hear how bad I was. I thought that was a good thing. But in that moment that I was saying, yo, this is the worst I’ve ever heard also. So blessed to realize it before playing it for anybody.
I was like, you got to, you’re going to have to work extra hard at this. I mean, those were the early stages, like coming from art background, early hip hop background. And we knew that we couldn’t sound like anybody else and it would take time to develop what we would, our approach to making records would be.
It was gutter, man. It was in the basement turntables and a tape machine, one microphone sharing, like all that. I did my part. Let me pass you the microphone types. And even in those early stages, because we had to work that way. Even when we went to the studio, we would be in a booth at the same time, sometimes the same time and save money.
You don’t realize how that’s exercising and developing skills. You don’t have. You know, finance. So you’re like, man, we got two hours, you got all the technology and all the tracks, you know, back then we were using like four and eight track recorders like that. So I do think that with us trained us to be better performers, better breath control and all that.
So those were beautiful times. Any of those old tapes still hanging around. Man. I’m definitely, definitely got some old demos. Those demos are still exist on like cassette tapes, but it turned into what would be our actual demo, in which, got in the hands of a Bobbito Garcia stretch on strong, who got, you know, Bob had a job at Def jams and, you know, delimited Russell Simmons, who was the first one to hear our demo.
Yeah, I’m in good company in good company. Now you did mention, you know, Queens where you’re from, you’re synonymous with hip hop, you know, or hip hop on the east coast, east coast, hip hop. And you’re a Queens guy, right. And, and Queens actually has an incredible rap lineage, right? LL cool. J 50 cent NAS. Like, is there such a thing as a queen style? Is that a thing. We’re in the MC who launch professors, salt and pepper. Oh, there we go.
Well, what is it about Queens? What is it about Queens that has created this incredible ecosystem within New York? And is there a distinct style that comes from Queens? I think the styles have been all over the place from technical to street to brag. And all of those things, I think very early on in the beginning were outside during the park joints as well.
And sound clashes, sound systems, even before the MCs came up. I think one thing that pushed Queens is like the south and my California and the Midwest. So we always felt like, kind of like a trip to be like, yeah, you know, we gotta prove ourselves extra hard. So when you know, the south went through that without getting their respect from the east coast, The west coast, like Queens cats kind of like felt the vibes because you know, it was always like the unsung.
Yeah, interesting discussion for sure. Now you’re known as a, like a true lyricist, right? With an intricate delivery that can really paint a picture, you know, tell a story. So I love this question. I ask it of all the creatives that have on the show. What’s your creative process? Like how do you go about writing?
Has it always been the same and where do you find inspiration? Ah, man, I wish I could shut it off, but my brain is constantly going constantly searching. I’ll just come up with a theme and try to script it first. What would this song be about if he was to tackle this subject matter and I’ll leave it there.
And sometimes it’s like just bars and I’ll come up with a funny line or really intricate line, you know? And that’s how, that’s my process. It’s not like I’m pressed to, you know, not those types of things out immediately. So my process is I like it because, you know, sketch out, you know, the script, flushed it out, go back to it, perform it, put my soul and my spirit into it.
And if I believe it, then I’ll know I have something there to build upon because it encompasses the production and the music side as well. There has to be American. So for me, it usually takes time to get it done. And, I’m watching films, reading from having conversations with people that are inspiring.
I’m looking for anything. Films with the last project. It was, the road warrior joint fury road that really blew me away. In terms of the visuals. I must have watched that like 10 times in the joker, in terms of his performance in the film, in a commitment to the performance made me re-examine the commitment to the characters, the voicing, or the articulation.
On the rhyme side. So, you know, like after watching that film, I went back and was like, let me listen again. See if I really believe you. Like, like if I’m watching someone on camera, like, let me see if I believe this scene, I listened back to a song and be like, I believe this guy, like. Yeah, super interesting. Now maybe this is, maybe I’m asking the same question again, but in a different way or taking it further. Like I think anybody who knows, you know, the history of your music and your projects, they would say that you’re no doubt, a deep thinker, maybe an intellectual, but definitely an abstract creative.
I would call you an abstract creative for sure. Where does that, you know, that conscious rap, deeper level of the craft come from because it’s not surface level, you know, you get really cerebral. That’s the word I always use for you. Sometimes, you know, with art, you walk into the museum or you see a piece and it hits you right away.
You relate to it right away, you get it. And that’s beautiful. Sometimes you find an interesting piece and you grow with it and it grows with you and it redefines itself as you evolve. So experiencing that myself. Well, as you try to evolve, you look at something again, and you’re like, man, you know, this, you know, love meant this to me at 25 meant this to me at 35.
Now it has a totally different meaning because I’m experiencing it in a different way. I say that to say in their approach to making songs, I’ve always tried to put a little layer. I don’t feeling in there so that, you know, if you go back to a piece, it has a longer shelf life. It’s not just pop culture references, which are, you know, they play out after that moment is over.
I think a portion of that. So it was realizing that when you’re like a niche artists and you have a boutique thing that you’re doing, and it’s not meant to be mainstream, you know, but I’m fine with like, having. Somatic cupcake spot is one of them in Brooklyn, maybe two locations. And every time people come from Canada or come from Europe, London to New York, they’re like, yo, you gotta go to this cupcake spot. You have to go there. How long are you going to be in New York? You gotta do it. And then once you know that people is a line, then you take special care. I think that’s why I pay that much attention to the product they are there. And I need to keep taking care of them in order for them to come, keep coming back to my.
And that is a fascinating breakdown.
It’s true. I think your fans. I mean, they’re almost fanatical about your music, you know, and I think really great works of art. They’re timeless. I mean, you’re pointing that out, right. You know, to follow up on what you just talked about, you know, your bio mentions that your music has stayed committed to the culture of lyricism and hip hop in an ever-changing paradigm that has the music industry pushing to the forefront, the low hanging fruit.
Of disposable artists, right? You, you kind of talked about that again, you know, anyone who’s followed your career would say you’re as authentic as it gets, you know, you just described that. Can you speak to specifically the low hanging fruit of disposable artists maybe unpack what that means to you? And then the follow-up to that is the importance of authenticity, because I think that’s what that really means. How important is authenticity? I think, you know, there’s a need for fast food. Obviously we, you know, in a fast paced society, you’re getting up and you’re going and you need to go through a drive through you don’t have time to do this. Let me just get some coffee. So I understand the majority of people are not even into music. The way that I’m into music, you ask the average person, what’s your favorite group? They’re like, ah, You’re like, oh yeah. I met Coldplay Coldplay, and they’re like, oh, you know, colors and sound. And they’re not breaking down. Like advent fan is going to break down music. So the percentage of people actually buy into music, especially the way it’s disseminated now. It’s very few. For most people is something that’s just on in the car when they’re going to work on when they’re dusting or vacuuming. It’s like, if you asked them the breakdown, why the MC or why the singer is their favorite, they’re not going to give you too much detail.
So corporate wise, there is a need to reproduce a certain tempo. Keep the ads flowing on the radio. But for me, that that was never me. I could never reproduce, you know, in the corporate setting, even in art school, I was like, I’m not going to be able to work for this, this comic book company, because I’m not going to be able to sit there and keep reproducing similar things like I need to create. So this, this generation is just like that and higher in terms of like spinning out reproducing recycling. Kind of the same type of produced music. It really, kind of set a precedent in terms of
where we are right now with art. They’ll always be, you know, new teenagers and new consumers that don’t have the experience. And that’s what any corporation or company, almost sports fan. New ticket, new season ticket holders are coming in and younger and you want to tell your son, so I get that side of it, knocking it, understand it, but it’s important for me to differentiate that. I do think that though, the last three projects and even Simon says and stuff like that was, it could, could play ball in that arena, but they don’t corporate doesn’t gravitate to the artist. Because they know the artist is not going to reproduce that way. A good example is prince, you know, coming off a purple rain, this is a great, it has a movie. It has this, this is the most amazing, you know, album album. So that the company was like, okay, prince, your new album. Can we call it lavender precipitation?
And he’s. That was that I’m in Brazil recording with Brazilian artists and I’m onto something new and people pulling their hair out like artists. So I get, even in that sense, when they see a feral March walk in the room or whatever, so already like the consummate artists, like we can’t roll him up. And current out five ease, you know, so I always kind of knew what it was going to be from Davis.
Yeah. And you know, I think those that, you know, follow your work and are fans of your work would call you the consummate artist. Have you thought about the role you’ve played in, being a major influence in those that are already considered true lyricists, like, you know, Eminem yeah, apathy. Here’s a quote from apathy. I’m going to read this. He said, and talking about Fairmont, she said, do it is from the future. He’s not normal. He’s a savant, a level of effortless perfection that I will never even come close to. What are your thoughts on that? And are you from the future? Um, no, that’s a real interesting question too. Whereas not too long ago, that question would have been looked at. And I think people would be listening to this. Like, yo, they get deep. I don’t think it’s that. I don’t even think it’s that deep of a conversation in the sense that if you’re like getting into yourself and listening to your voice and understanding the spoken word and how we can with our thinking and press upon directory of where our lives are going with hard work in this. You can kind of project things that should be in a certain trajectory. And it’s not hard. I write a rhyme about civil war and people are fucking fighting and two years am I from the future? I am. I just kind of forecasting what I see if we don’t make certain choices personally, as well as, as the society.
That’s all I kind of ever did is, try to be selfless. Try to have empathy, to think about what happened 10 years in forecasts, which is not difficult, not very difficult to do. Yeah, well, you know, it’s, it’s like anything, right? Like just sometimes common sense prevails. Right? You just take a look at how divided things are.
We can see the path we’re going down. We see where it ends up if things don’t correct. I mean, same thing. Now what’s interesting about you that some people might not know is you actually have asthma, whereas Matt. Right. And I wanted to ask you about this because I think it’s very interesting how. Has that affected your career and what role you referenced him earlier?
Does John Coltrane, play in that huge, huge, huge, huge, I remember my parents telling people who would ask, how long has he had asthma? And they would be like, oh, I used contracted at 13 months and at 13 with sticking my head back then. So that, that kind of gives you. Insight into that. But, um, for lung disease, that, that would just is crippling in terms of childhood and playing and all that. As I started to think about what my future was going to be like in terms of, you know, an adult, I was like, you know, you’re going to have to find some type of work or use some type of skill. That’s not physical as bad as I was back then. I was in and out of the hospital weekly. And so the. And the drawing skills and I’m like, yes, I can get paid from my end, my imagination. This is my way out of asthma situation. When the music thing came along, it was very instrumental in me becoming who I am, because it hampered my ability to breathe and rap. So this thing that I had to defeat and be better than, so, which pushed me to. Do runs as I’m listening to Coltrane and thinking about his breath control, how could he possibly hold this note? I do this run for so long and so complicated. This is what you need to do to defeat this ailment, you know? And in fact, if it wasn’t for the asthma, I don’t think I would be the MC that I am today. I think I would have relied on other things. But it was of always like a battle from the beginning against the lung disease has to be able to get your breath, control your lung capacity up to do things that somebody without asthma wouldn’t even try to do in a run or a bar.
And I think that was prevalent very early on, which is, which is why I think a lot of the greats like apathy and. Took a liking to hearing that I was trying to push that far with it. That’s a fascinating, explanation. I appreciate you sharing that because you know, when you think about someone who struggles with asthma, the last thing you think they would be, you know, you, you, you don’t think hip hop, you don’t think that they’re going to become an emcee necessarily. So it’s a really, it’s a really interesting conversation. I guess, you know, when you discuss it, you’re being vulnerable. Would you agree that, you know, being vulnerable as an artist helps you grow? Absolutely. It’s not easy. Even just reflecting back on that. I was like, oh, I feel the wave right now. You has to be real. I’m being, I’m being honest with you. And you know, even, um, albums to come like post-traumatic stress disorder. It talks about the medication and how to throw me out of whack during, you know, emotionally and mentally and all because of this element. And so I don’t want to, I, you know, it’s not like I want to be like little, let me give the asthma props and say, You know, the thing that was supposed to take you out, you know, got you to where you are and that’s how we supposed to overcome these issues, you know?
Yeah. Well, we won’t give the asthma props, we will do that. Okay. So moving along here, you know, talking about your current projects, can you tell us about, you know, your latest project in group 13? So as you can tell, like, Even in the very beginning, like I would hear these tempo changes and music, like hardcore, like some rock, which would go from almost like ballad tempo back into some just hard driving.
And, soon as I got with organized confusion, I was like, how could we do this on the muscles? Like, everything usually stays the same tempo. Like how can we bring. Yeah, glimpses of it early on, and then a definitely glimpses of it on internal affairs. So it’s something that’s been, you know, darker driving.
Hardcore music has been a go-to for me since the beginning, you know, I knew what with this project, I didn’t want to bastardize either genre, so I wanted to keep the temperament of hip hop or. So, you know, the likes of the stone and not since super ugly Marco polo and Ian Jones, as well as myself, all recruited as well as the band to produce this record and keep in mind that it needed to have a hip hop temperament to it, very heavy lyrical themes along with, you know, just using the term. I realized that I’m from a narrow where, you know, rock to me and my crew meant something dope and it’s changed just like hip hop has got really whack, flimsy pop and all over the place throughout the time. So my manager would say to me, you know, be careful when you use rock as a reference to talk about the album, because you have fans of all Evans and agents and they have a different reference.
When you say this. They don’t think, you know, John bottom, they don’t think, you know, Jimmy page, they’re thinking some whack because rock isn’t popping right now. So just don’t throw it out there to be cool because it has a different reference for everybody. For me, you know, like I said, in my timeframe, it was just so dope. We were rapping over the breaks like that and really vibing off of them. And, Metallica lease and just going on these journeys where they was, where they were taking it. So in order for people to take me seriously, you know, I was like, you need your recruit, actual staff. You need to go back to the basics, go back to the basement, go back to the garage. But for drummer and a guitarist implement these things in there. And in my dreams, the kid Marcus Machado was just coming. And blowing up and tearing it up all over the place. And Darryl Jones, same thing. Jack was drama and slalom and child live and play for everybody still does same, same with Marcus.
Well known. And I went to these guys. I was like, yo, let’s do this like a group, you know? Cause you know, I could rap over this. But I don’t think people really outside the genre and take it seriously if we’re not a group in a band. And that’s what that, that was about. Like, if you can imagine somebody from the rock side saying, yo almost finally do my hip hop album, yo and everybody on the hip hop side, like right.
Cause he know about the pop, like who’s going to produce it like this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I imagine on both sides of the. This is what people were here. When I was saying that I wanted to code this thing, is it going to be authentic? Are you going to really bring it? And I just, I’m just so excited. You know, everybody did their thing. The album is out and it works. I don’t want to say work to professor cause we’re still working on it, but people gravitated to it. The right people gravitating to it. The visual nominated and more that film festival. You know, the minor was selling out and
it’s not like, obviously not like, you know, 500,000 copies and they’re having problems with the pressing, but the amount that the distributors pressed up sold out had to repress the vinyl.
And, I think with just getting started, you know, that’s, that’s, what’s exciting about it to me. I’m looking at it, like, let’s treat this, you know, me and the guys had this conversation. I was like, let’s treat this. Like, we’re new. Nobody has an ego. Nobody just shit about us. We got to go out here and campaign for fans and for people’s attention.
And since these guys dig so much anyway, because they’re, they’re raw musicians. They were like, yo, let’s go for it. Yeah. The whole package looks really interesting. Like you mentioned the visuals. I also noticed you, you did a, you know, an NFT drop or an NFT release with this one, you know, with the singles. Can you tell us how that came to be and why you decided to do the NFT drop? One of the first visuals we started with was the animated short kill, kill, kill. I knew that it would take time to, you know, get the animation done. So we started with that. And then it came out so good. We were like, yo, how about we take these panels of something into comic and, you know, and it just kept going on from there. And then it was like, yo, how about we take these different frames and turn them into an NFT, but we didn’t really dive in, like I think we should. And I think we’re going to reenter that word. Yeah, I think it naturally works as an NFT. That’s why I asked, I think it works. I think it’s meant to be with that.
I think it was very smart to do that. The significance of the number 13, is it true that you’ve always had an obsession with the number 13? Yeah, it was prevalent. Like I said, my parents was always like 13 and I would go into an emergency room and the doctor would be like, how long is. 13 months, so, right. All right. What’s up with this number then when I got into junior high, high school started getting into sports and I made my high school team and I wore that number. And then I’m a birthday is Halloween and it’s 31. And I started to be like, what’s up with this three and this one, and we’ll just became Monday.
Interesting. Okay. So that’s where it comes from. I like that. Here, here’s a question and I want to unpack this a little bit. I’ve noticed, you know, a sort of dystopian post-apocalyptic theme to your current music. Is that accurate? Absolutely. Yeah. Where does that. That comes from my love of Saifai. And like I said, I was blown away by the fury road movie.
I think about the future. I think about what the fashion look like. What would the sound, what would it sound like per se? And, you know, it’s the same thing, you know, with the comments and the figures it’s like, they allow you to, you know, especially during the pandemic and during this writing period, they allow you to.
Where do you escape to, you know, what do you see when your escape? That’s just the same that I had over the past 10 years, or post-apocalyptic zombie apocalypse, you know, like, but, but how do you. You know, how do you overcome those situations or how do you avoid those situations? Magnificent day four exorcism is, is really simple. You know, exorcism is a cleansing away back to zero in a tone mint and, you know, just looking at society and like, how do we, how do we really do that? It’s going to be hard. How do you reset? We even want to reset. Sometimes, you know what sports, even personally, I’m like, I don’t even want to, you know, I’ve been doing it this way for so long. I don’t want to change. Why do we have to change the rules? You know, this is the way baseball, football is played, by the way I have to change the rules. And sometimes, you know, especially with, we can see what’s happening now and it’s new generations and the genie’s out of the bottle and, you know, it’s like, it doesn’t have to be this way.
And the people start to ask why. You want to be forced into dealing with the change. And so this is the theme of the album. You know, it’s funny. I personally not, you know, this, show’s not about me, but personally, you know, like I’ve always been drawn to kind of a darker, imagery, darker themes and music and art, things like that.
Almost like a Gothic feel and, you know, going through, you know, just to current projects, I’m like, this is almost. Like a Gothic side of hip hop, like a Renaissance kind of darker feel, although it is post-apocalyptic. So that’s kind of what I take from it in terms of the imagery and the imagery is profound. I mean, you know, the animated, video, the, the imagery and it makes you think like really makes you think, you know, on another level. Yeah. It was more than just a window dressing. It made you think, right. You know, the, the kids, you know, watch a lot of film and you know, for me, when you have the protagonist and antagonist and you start off with kids in the woods, your heart is like, oh no, who are those kids?
Where are their parents? Automatically. So as I’m writing the shirt, I’m like, okay, it’s three kids. The oldest is a girl they’re in the woods. They’re escaping from who knows what the escaping from some dystopian prison. So, you know, when film you’re like, you don’t care about the characters, you have nothing. So in thinking about that, I tried to start off right from the. You have to care about these kids. Like you have to be like, where are these kids running, chasing the creatures. I don’t know where my mind was with that, but I, I told the animator, I was like, they have beads, they’re 12 feet tall and some eyes wide shut meats.
I don’t even know shit. And so they capture the kids and then they’re to return them back to where they’re from. So you’re saying, who are these kids? What time is this? Is this in the future? Passes this, this reality what’s happening. So I want you to feel all of those fields. The twist is once the girl uses her power, it takes the creatures out.
She realized that they were the victims of their own situation. They turn into innocent kids. And so she puts the mask on. And she turns into them. The theme is, you know, don’t become the thing you hate by killing them or whatever, but there’s a larger theme because we want to flush it out and continue the series because the, at the end, she walks back towards the, the camp or the prison or whatever.
And basically I feel like she’s, this is like a Trojan horse type of thing. Like she really knows she’s going back there with a purpose, even though she changed. That’s the whole thought out process of. Even in the fight and the mask, you know, I was careful, I didn’t want to date the visuals by being like, oh, you know, those sneakers that they have on came out in 2020, like I was like, no clothes that has dates. It’s just cards. It needs to be so far in the past because, one of the big resounding themes for the project was let’s remove all pretentious. Because with the phone selfies and the videos and everything we’re watching, it’s like, this is me, I’m me. I’m rapping. And I was just like that frame. I’m tired of that frame.
So I’m actually marketing to myself, like what would make you take like, this is a breath of fresh air. Like, oh, I hear rapping, but I don’t know. Who’s actually rapping because these guys have mask on, which I kind of thought would read. Like, it’s not about us. It’s about the. Please listen to the music. It’s not about what I’m wearing or the jewelry or the car. Please listen to the music. And I think in time, I think you can still go back and these visuals won’t date themselves because they’re not like, oh, that’s what everybody was wearing during the summer of 2020 or the fall of 2014 during the pen.
You know? So we were careful not to have those that posture and not feel and all of the visuals, which I think allows the view. To interpret for themselves. And that’s when I have the most fun, you know, I know you’re trying to tell me something, but I’m creating my own world in this movie, or I’m reading this book, I’m getting what I’m getting from the book.
Allow people to have some, some room to do that, you know, it’s fun when they have yeah. And it’s exciting to think you’re going to continue the story. So that’s, that’s, that’s really interesting. Okay. Some wrap up questions in the time we have left. Now, if you didn’t become a musician, a hip hop legend, what would you have been?
I would’ve, I would’ve focused and had to gravitate more to the arts or, you know, drawing and illustration.
Illustration was my major and photography was on that and I took a liking to that and I still dabble. I still use it. No. I found the artists for the album cover everything. You know, when we were shooting, I’ll go look at the frames and be like, can we frame this this way? Can we do this? Like this? Can we get the single wider directors?
Like, all right, Mr. you know, 2 cents, but I, you know, it helped me have a perspective. So I was still being an art. I just don’t know where specifically, I probably be dabble over here and dabble a little bit there, but definitely the arts, because I was so bad asthmatically I couldn’t even see, like, I couldn’t stay consistent with maintaining a certain type of job, you know, it doesn’t surprise me that that’s what you would have been if you were in a hip hop. Legend icon musician.
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Ah, here’s one it’ll make you think. If you could have dinner with any three people in history, past or present, who would they be in? Hmm, it would definitely, I think, just not thinking about, just go, go, go. It would be like Malcolm Martin and a musician. Let’s say Jimmy. Right. And the thing that I would beat them over the head with.
You always have these people that try to see the greater good and try to make a change. And, you know, the, these guys were so embedded and impactful, Austin, when you think about art and art, that changes people and hopefully, you know, that’s why you’re doing it. W you know, we’re not going to be here forever.
So you want to leave something meaning. Just like one of the encouraging words for that. And, you know, it seems like a daunting path because things are still bleak. I think about 30 years ago, thinking about now, I honestly didn’t think that the temperature of society as a whole globally would be where.
Right now. And it is, it’s me up sometime because I’m like, man, you know,
Yeah, it’s true. I mean, it’s, it’s kind of sad where we are, you know, some of the, you know, you find less and less people, you know, concerned about, you know, the greater good, you know, you see a lot less of that these days. I think mental health is an issue for a lot of people these days, you know, being isolated from others.
I, you know, it’s, it’s kind of scary when you think about the next generation to, you know, anyway, not. Too far down that path, but you know, you brought it up and I want to, I want to end with this question now, have you thought about your place in music history? Like what will be the legacy of choice Jamerson, AKA Pharoahe Monch what will you be remembered for?
I don’t know. That’s why I go so hard trying to make memorable, but, I still like a good amount of the. Has been done. There’s a history before Simon says that is really, really, really, you know, on the fandom side and lyricist side. And then there’s, you know, history after that, that went to a couple of different places that I think is mentionable and worthy of mentioned.
But, I’m right where I want to be. In the sense that, you know, all my heroes were like kind of obscure, you know? But when you bring them up, people like phenomenal work, phenomenal albums. It’s funny because I, I love great song, great chorus, pop song, pop chorus. It’s not like I’m anti that. I really think some of the, you know, w we’re still pushing the album because I really think some of the themes.
We’re getting licensed and you never know you get, you know, one of the songs wind up in a, an apple commercial and we’ll be having a different conversation, but yeah, man, place just hardworking thought provoking, thought a lot about the process and. And, that that’s all you can ask for my opinion of all the collaborations and people you’ve worked with.
Is there any that stand out in particular as like, wow. You know, I’ll never forget that one of the things was the, this record. Oh no. I deal with Nate Dogg and most stuff. And just going out to Cali to get the, the Nate dog vocals rest in peace to the, to the legendary Nate. And I’m just working on that record.
And then again, in context, if you think about it, at the time we put that record out, it wasn’t a lot of east coast artists working with Nate dog. So that took people by surprise that me and most did that song with him. And I just, that’s one of my favorite songs. He killed it and most killed it and it came out so well, but just like, yeah, man, like, being out in LA.
And Trey’s studio and working with all of these other people at the time during that timeframe is it sticks out in my head. Cool. Okay. Thank you for that. What an honor to have you on the show today? Monch it was a absolute pleasure, your true legend creative icon. Good to hear your story, get to know your story in a bit more detail that’s for sure.
So, above and beyond, it’s your body of work that speaks for itself, man. That’s that’s what people really take away. So, appreciate that. And as I said, you know, like to, to lyricists and people that respect, hip hop or it’s a religion for them, you’re, you’re considered an icon today. You know, I think that’s fascinating just to think of when you look back and you realize what you’ve, what you’ve done for a lot of these other like iconic hip hop people, you know, they, they, they credit you I’ve seen that numerous.
Right, but you, you know, don’t see it. Yeah. That’s amazing, man. It is. It is. I’m grateful for that. Thanks brother. I appreciate your time.