Tax day in the U.S. is under two months away and while that can be good or bad, it seems to be turning into a great day for new music. Pharoahe Monch is returning to the forefront with P.T.S.D., which stands for “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”, and it will be packed with a lot of special guests, including Black Thought of The Roots, Talib Kweli,and Vernon Reid, plus production from the likes of Quelle Chris, Jesse West, Marco Polo, and Lee Stone. While the press release says Mohch has been “at the forefront of lyrical innovation for two-decades now”, that’s not quite true. We’re talking three decades: 90’s, 00’s, and now in the 10’s, and he’s not about to stop just yet. A song called “Bad MF” has already surfaced, so have a listen to it below.
A U.S. tour will coincide with the album’s release and when those are announced, I’ll post the dates here.
There was a time not too long ago when the lyrics of Pharoahe Monch was considered ahead of its time, futuristic, and yet as the music evolved into new eras, everyone loved him but so-called experts refused to rank him up there with alleged greats. Pharoahe Monch doesn’t need validation, although I’m sure there’s a bit of that ego in him which says “fuck that, of course I want that recognition” but having a hard work ethic has made him one of the best MC’s of the last 20 years. He is now making music in his third decade, how many people from back then can still sound “of the future” and “in the now” without people ever having to think of what came before?
Okay, maybe that last comment was kind of rude so let me say it differently. With quality artists, you always should acknowledge what came before, because they wouldn’t be what they are without everything that lead to it. Yet with his new album, Pharoahe still sounds like he’s speaking to people of the future, hoping for everyone to catch up someday and yet a lot of what he has been speaking about for the last 20 years is being realized today. W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) (W.A.R. Media/Duck Down) is a collection of songs that fits what some would call an audio movie. There are no interludes even though some of the tracks are as long as them. Instead, the pace of the album and how it’s programmed show how important the process of making music is for Pharoahe, as you get a sense of the horrid outlook he has on the world we live in, which maybe is a reflection of how we view ourselves. These songs are filled with metaphors and complexities that show classic Pharoahe, but by taking a deep listen to tracks like “Haile Selassie Karate”, “Let My People Go”, and “Calculated Amalgamation” you realize he has always been speaking like this, it’s just that he’s capable of looking for, exploring, and discussing new stories and ideas. This is the kind of hip-hop that seems perfect for sci-fi junkies, those who seek to use metaphors as ways to speak in code so that those easily offended will not realize they’re evil ways are being exposed. Yet you don’t have to hang out at Comicon’s or Dungeons & Dragons to understand what he’s talking about, he’s direct and to the point at times almost too direct but that’s how he cuts and soothes listeners at the same time. He knows he’s capable of saying something that will make fans go “wow, now this feels good, I sense something great here” while fans will put faith in him, knowing that he’s in control of his destiny and people admire the paths he’s willing to take.
In other words, W.A.R. is what The D.O.C. once called “Rhythmic American Poetry”, a/k/a the essence of R.A.P., a dialogue that isn’t just someone speaking out of his ass just because he admires the sound and smell of his own verbal farts. Pharoahe Monch is a communicator, and fortunately there are enough fans who put faith in what he does in order to keep hearing it year after year. As a hip-hop record, people need to listen to this and understand what proper programming and producing can do and sound like.
Living Colour are going on the road in support of their new album, The Chair In The Doorway, and one of the dates will be an opening slot for The Roots. The rest are headliner shows. Here are the confirmed dates:
August 10 | The Highline Ballroom | New York, NY (w/ The Roots)
September 1 | The Birchmere | Alexandria, VA
September 2 | Bottle & Cork | Dewey Beach, DE
September 3 | World Cafe Live | Philadelphia, PA
September 4 | The Crazy Donkey | Farmingdale, NY
September 6 | Infinity Hall | Norfolk, CT
September 8 | Tupelo Music Hall | Londonderry, NH
September 9 | FTC @ Stage One | Farfield, CT
September 10 | Johnny D’s | Somerville, MA
September 11 | Mexicali Live | Teaneck, NJ
September 12 | Rams Head Tavern | Annapolis, MD
September 14 | The Loft | Atlanta, GA
September 15 | HOB Orlando | Lake Buena Vista, FL
September 16 | Jannus Landing | St. Petersburg, FL
September 18 | Emo’s | Austin, TX
September 19 | Granada Theatre | Dallas, TX
September 20 | Warehouse Live | Houston, TX
September 23 | Canes Bar and Grill | San Diego, CA
September 24 | The Key Club | West Hollywood, CA
September 25 | Regency Grand Ballroom | San Francicso, CA
September 26 | Berbatis Pan | Portland, OR
September 27 | Studio Seven | Seattle, WA
September 30 | Fine Line Music Cafe | Minneapolis, MN
October 2 | The Magic Bag | Detroit, MI
October 3 | Lee’s Palace | Toronto, Ontario
October 4 | Double Door | Chicago, IL
October 5 | The Grog Shop | Cleveland, OH
October 30 | Highline Ballroom | New York, NY
Put them in your schedule.
September 15, 2009.
For a moment forget the Beatles attack of 9/9/09, and mark the 15th on the calendar for Living Colour hits the marketplace once again with a brand new album called The Chair In The Doorway. The band in 2009 is the lineup it has been since 1993, which is Vernon Reid, Corey Glover, Will Calhoun, and Doug Wimbish, and the new album is their first in five years. They are going to work it by heading out on a world tour, so if they play near you, show support.
Until then, here’s a look at the track listing for The Chair In The Doorway:
1. Burned Bridges
2. The Chair
4. Young Man
6. Behind The Sun
7. Bless Those
8. Hard Times
9. Taught Me
10. Out Of Mind
11. Not Tomorrow
I know it’s not audio or video, but it’s a mere taste of a band that I’ve been a fan of for 20 years (and whom I had the pleasure of seeing 20 years ago when they opened up for The Rolling Stones on their Steel Wheels tour), and perhaps will move people of all ages to rock once again.