Everybody got some favourite albums. Music that accompanied yourself through difficult times, records that acted like a friend when there was real one around. Whether it was the sound around the times of your first kiss or the starting point of your own attempts to take a deeper look into new musical territories. We all have this record somewhere in our hearts and private collections. In this category NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION lets the artist’s do the writing as they share their personal stories and feelings on their most loved record with us.
This time Finnish rap prodigy NOAH KIN talks about a hidden hip hop gem from the late 90s, in form of the solo debut by former ORGANIZED KONFUSION member PHAROAHE MONCH. Quite quickly you’ll get an idea what influenced him with this record. The young fella from Finland will be performing at the December issue of Berlin’s Ja Ja Ja Club Night as well. Find everything you need to know about the event on December the 11th right here.
Pharoahe Monch – ‘Internal Affairs’ (1999)
Do you remember when you bought that record?
I bought the record a few years after it had already been out for a while. I’d like to think it was in 2002, but it could’ve been later. In any case, I was like 8 – 10 years old a passionate music fan, thanks to my parents. It’s actually really cool that the parental advisory stickers don’t matter in Finland, so I didn’t need mom or dad to buy it for me, although they were hesitant over the artwork and track names like Rape, haha.
Was there a special trigger that initially made you buy the album?
I saw PHAROAHE on MTV and it blew my mind. I think it was the Simon Says video on a throwback hip hop top 10 list or something. As any child of the internet age would’ve done, I quickly googled who this guy was and how I’d missed him before now and found that he’d released one album so far. I was happy I wasn’t too far behind on his journey, or so I thought: he released his next album Desire in 2007 which was a long time for a kid in elementary school. Later I learned it was due to a drawn-out lawsuit over a Godzilla sample in Simon Says. Godzilla sample: awesome, getting sued: not so awesome.
Please explain in a few words why it is so special for you?
What happened when I first saw/heard PHAROAHE MONCH was that I was blown away by his mind-bending flow and how articulate they still were taking complexity and fast rapping to a next level. I mean we had TWISTA, but.. Enough said. Back on topic, I found it so compelling, that PHAROAHE MONCH would years later become a huge influence on my own flow and style of rapping along with other of course. Internal Affairs has dark-vibed storytelling in a complex, but comprehendible way that really spoke to me in a way that no other record had ever before. I also love the audacity of the record, lines like ‘smack a nigga in the mouth, stab his mother in the eyeball’ just get you every time.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
It’s a tough call, but I’ll have to go with Simon Says. I guess you can’t go wrong with a Godzilla sample (musically, legally you can and did) and again with the audacity of starting a song after an intense and dark intro, just blasting into a raging banger telling people to ‘get the fuck up.’ Powerful stuff. This track in particular influenced my rap style a lot: energetic, in your face and brutally honest, through metaphors and such. And of course a rap fan’s dream the star-studded remix was crazy.
Why should one listen to that record today? Anything about the album that speaks to the people today as well?
I think the record really embodies a lot of what hip hop is in it’s core, at least to me. Not as much a specific type of genre as it is a tool to express one’s thoughts. Tell me that when you rap along to your favorite hip hop track you don’t feel like you’re suddenly on a podium speaking to the people. It still contains the power it was given by the originators. Internal Affairs is a product of its time, but also really forward-thinking in a way that other hip hop records wish they could be.
Any other work by the artist you can recommend? Or any other album you’d like to give some credit right here?
The follow-up album Desire is a masterpiece. I think it’s PHAROAHE’s best work, it has all the things one could enjoy on Internal Affairs, but so much more fine tuned and sonically beautiful and power than anything he’d made before. He also does a notable amount of singing on this record, which is amazingly good and brings extra depth. Also, I’d like to give credit to albums by BEASTIE BOYS, KANYE WEST, DEATH GRIPS, METZ and latest MOURN that really took me into the zone I’m currently in. All of these slowly pushed me to show more of my true self, which isn’t really a ‘hip hop head’ as much as an extremely passionate music-lover and giving me the courage to keep reaching outside the box that people tend to put hip hop artists in.