I Can't Call It: P.T.S.D: Pharoahe Monch

Posted On Monday, April 28, 2014

Pharoahe Monch is the Sade of hip hop. What do I mean by that? Well, simply put, Monch is one of the dopest artist we’ve ever seen or heard and I doubt anyone would dare to say anything less about Sade. Also, while the average artist drops 2 mixtapes a year and an album every other year, these two average about 5 years between dropping new music to the masses. But the thing that makes both of them SO ill is that no matter how much time passes between the last time we’ve heard from either one, when they decide to bless us with some new music, we’re ALWAYS eager to listen. And with Monch’s new album “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” you can best believe I’m more than all ears to see what he’s been cooking up for us during the past 3 years since W.A.R. dropped back in ’11. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love a song that actually says…something. It’s too many MC’s just rhyming to rhyme and not only aren’t they saying nuthin new…they’re not saying nuthin’ at all. But ya’ll don’t have to worry about that happening with Monch’s “P.T.S.D.” cause the entire album is a concept album based off a veteran coming home from combat and dealing with depression, his relationship falling apart and drug addiction. What makes the concept even more compelling is Pharoahe wrote this album while he was going through his own personal battle with depression due to a mixture of meds he was taking for his asthma. 

“P.T.S.D.” sets off with the Marco Polo produced “Time2” which has Monch weaving the story of where it all begins, “I’m trying to utilize my time to shine here/I realize we only have limited time here/dudes on my line, try’na to sell me a timeshare/that’ll be me with a nine, losin my mind in Time Square/like is this how you wanna treat me/you know what the business was before you hired me, a piece of sh-t.” The 2nd verse goes into exactly how he ended up there, “last year they hired me/and this week they fired me/and I got all these bills to pay/and what the f-ck am I suppose to say/to my wife she pregnant/and if the kid does not go to college his life’s irrelevant/and my melanin, makes me a felon/and I just wanna take this f-cking crack and sell it/to the planet/panic, I’m a manic depressive mechanic that manages to frantically do damage/lost it in Times Square and going home is not an option/is this illusion optic/perhaps it’s just a chemical reaction with my Zoloft and acidophilus/the section of my brain that forms sentences isn’t operative/danger, danger, danger, Will Robinson/a bizarre ride, Phrcyde, Fatlip, collagen/my tolerance is volatile and it feels like I’m losing oxygen.” 

“So I spin, the cylinder on my revolver” 

“Losing My Mind” is scene 2 of “P.T.S.D.” with Pharoahe dropping, “no Medicaid, no medication/thinking you’re better off dead, instead should have been dedicated to education/I spin the cylinder on my revolver, I spin, the cylinder/someone explain who’d leave a dick in charge of a bush, of a colon I’m screwed.” Pharoahe gives you the perspective of the gun used in Times Square while channeling his inner Queens brethren L. L. on “Damage.” “They cock them hammers, wave them llamas/but that’s that in front of the camera drama/so when the cameras are attached to dollys, I call them dali lama’s/mold me, loathe, hold me in the palm of your hand, load me/you know exactly what I am, murderer/when I’m inserted on to the top of fifteen family members/it’s the curse of the proverbial anarchy starter, the martyr/this is what I have been converted to do what I do is insanity/profanity, when they manually hammer me annually/you don’t figitty faze me yo, I won’t tigitty tase you bro/figgity f-cking cut you in half like it’s nothing minus the laser scope/then I will ring you bell like Avon/before displaying some of my various tattoos, Trayvon/the Oscar award winning Aiyana Jones, hey Sean.” Maaaaaan…you gotta be kidding me that this dude is really THIS nice! Flipping Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin and Aiyana Jones’ names like that?!?!?! And cats were mad that this dude got my vote over Jay Z on the battle of the boroughs ep on Live From the Writer’s Bench...come on. Monch told ya’ll on “Losing My Mind” that “going home wasn’t an option” so “Bad M.F.” tells what’s next on the menu for my dude, “totally intoxicated when he drove across the state line, rapper gone insane, story on dateline/lost his wits, didn’t take his meds/when they pulled him over, this is what he said/I’m a bad mother-cker man, shut your mouth/well we talking about Pharoahe.” “Rapid Eye Movement” feat. Black Thought has Monch sleep in the Recollection facility and has both of them blacking out on the mic doing EXACTLY what you’d expect from a Thought and Monch collabo. And for cats who don’t know Rapid Eye Movement or (R.E.M.) sleep is the stage of sleep where intense dreaming happens, hence Pharoahe's dream state during this song.


“Scream” sets off Act 2 of “P.T.S.D.” with Monch’s character coming to his wit’s end dealing with his depression, “civilians sings, I drink, I lean/I see dead people when I dream/this war with self is so extreme/sometimes I think I need to…scream.” Ever seen those late night commercials about new drugs the FDA is pushing where the side effects are worse then your actually symptoms? Welp, that’s where the interlude “SideFX feat. Dr. Pete” comes into play and has Pharoahe explaining a new drug he's taking for his asthma even though the side effects include "death in patients over 16." “Broken Again” is Monch’s character turning to drugs to help with his depression, “they told me to see the glass half full cause some see it as half empty/I chose to see the glass twice the size it needed to be/smashed it against the wall in the kitchen/on the floor going through withdrawals I was itchin/she rescued me, my heroine to the end/but then she morphed into heroin in a syringe/around my bicep, I would tie a shoestring/tap five times to find a vein in there/squeeze 7 cc’s so I could see the seven seas/and cc all my friends so they could see what I was seeing/but what they saw was a despicable human being/so I guess they just wasn’t seeing what I was seeing/convert two into one and an invisible plan/to discover what dreams come for this invisible man/sentimental education, beautiful weather/damn was constantly catching fire, Richard Pryor.” The title track “Post Traumatic Stress Order” goes into more detail with Monch’s struggle, “f-ck you know about a struggle/the boy in the plastic bubble/when I drink away the pain I guzzle/my life is like a complicated mathematical puzzle, for real/seen death twice, it’s ugly mother-ckers man/but you conversate with him when you suffering/he said let go of the pain, you’ll never rock the mic again/your choice, slug to the brain or 20 vicodin/I kinda likened it to Ortho Tri-Cyclen/disturbing the natural cycles of life and it’s trifling/f-ck what you heard, less money more problems/4 years removed from the game with no album/I put the gun to my brain, but first I wrote a note to explain/put the luger in my head and these are the words that I said."

“My destiny rules everything around me, dream, get the money…dollar dollar bill ya’ll” 

The Lee Stone produced “D.R.E.A.M.” featuring Talib Kweli has the two Rawkus alum going back and forth about living out your dreams and making it happen no matter what. Pharoahe checks in with, “welcome to the age of aquarius in the stages of various schemes/precariously I escape when I dream/each scene should win an Academy, put it up on the screen/my strategy, Pharoahe’s the king of Queens/who fiends for teens to view it as the new theme music/use it to shape their futures when they day dream to it/never elusive, never claim stupid/lucid, boost your recruits when you sing to it and just dream” while Talib kicks, “five o’clock in the morning, just getting home from last night’s performance/when I’m dead tired from touring I hit the coffin/I’m like a vampire required to stay dormant/out of range, the sunlight with a doubt it would remain/I used to smoke so much, that it clouded my brain/I took a break, had to find life’s meaning again/without the smoke in my lungs I started breathing again.” “Eht Dnarg Noisulli” or “The Grand Illusion” ends Monch’s story in grand fashion, “we were told that the hell below was a fiery inferno/I rediscovered my soul between the lines inside my journal/trapped within a Penn State of mind, Joe Paterno/external gratification is not happiness internal/interject, intellect, intercept, internet/a slave majority with one percent benefit/photoshopped images, retouched photography/pornography, sodomy, child labor economy/put away your hope, same political policies/two thousand and ten, only minus the space odyssey/there’s gotta be a better way, we pray to hit the lottery/we all need a therapist/for the robbery of our God, an official public apology/an angel plotted to have Organized Konfusion/you fell for the delusion, I’ll expose the movement, illusion.” But my fave cut off “P.T.S.D.” is easily the Marco Polo produced “The Jungle” where Monch compares the folk who occupy the concrete jungle to the animals that occupy the real jungle.in the real jungle. “See them gorillas over there in the park, them my niggas/after dark we get sparked up and pull triggers/you gotta speak orangutan slang or pull capers/the cops are the cheetahs and the trees are the skyscrapers/see in the jungle we often rumble for loot/some of us just stumble around high off the booze, shoot, you get shot, sh-t/play humble like last year when the cheetahs tried to catch my uncle/when you come through, you could get bumped too/if you don’t got at least 4 to 5 gorillas amongst you.” And then Monch flips the god Rakim’s famous lines from “Know the Ledge”, “I go to Queens for queens, I eat organic from Brooklyn, swing on a vine over the swine and keep ‘em shook/and take the anaconda through the tunnels/through the Mecca where the piranha try to ball and style on the persona/you know I keep it on the low like an iguana/when the monikers never leave the crib without the llama in the jungle.” 

Sometimes an album speaks directly to your situation. The same way a bible verse that you’ve read a million times over, all of a sudden speaks to what you’re currently going through. And that’s the exact way I feel when I’m listening to “P.T.S.D.” I’m sure me dealing with my own personal health ailments (fibromyalgia, sleep apnea (which is why I know so much about R.E.M. sleep), hyper/hypothyroidism and prostatitis could ALL be the reason why I mess with this album so much but even if I put all of that to the side, “P.T.S.D.” is still a DOPE album. And it's not only a solid hip hop album in a time when dope hip hop albums are damn near nonexistent but it’s another dope album in what I look at as one of the dopest discographies in not just hip hop music…but ALL of music. My ONLY knock on “P.T.S.D.” is that you don’t get that certified banger like “Simon Says”, “Desire” or “Clap” but the way hip hop has been looking in 2014, and if that’s the ONLY beef I have with Monch’s latest opus on deck, then I’m more then good.

4 outta 5


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