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- Posted on Mar 14th 2010 4:20PM by Ben Javorsky
What's the meaning behind the name Pharoahe Monch and how did you choose it as your moniker?
It's a pretty well known story throughout the underground now. I was a real class-clown in high school and I even made the teachers laugh all the time cracking jokes. I started earning money drawing on peoples clothes and stuff in art school and it was the first summer I was earning money from my art work and I felt independent. There was this barber that my father used to take me to and I went there one day and told him that I wanted to change up how he cut my hair, because I was paying for it and I felt like a big shot. Since I was pretty much telling him how to cut my hair and he disagreed with me, he cut my hair and it came out very f**ed up and I had to go to school and I had a hat, but the teacher made me take off the hat. One of the girls I used to tease started cracking on my hair and she called me a Monchichi and started singing the song from the Monchichi cartoon....so I just got stuck with it.
How did you get your start in the rap game and how has your career evolved from Organized Konfusion to what you're doing solo now?
Just pure love for hip-hop culture. I was fortunate to come up when break-dancing and graffiti and b-boying and styling and park jams was still pretty relevant in hip-hop and it just felt like a giant movement of art expression. I was an art student and I went to school with a lot of the great graffiti writers. It was very inspirational and from a cultural perspective it was something I wanted to contribute to on the emcee side and being an art student, originality was one of the things we really went for in Organized Konfusion. Now, it's just such a blessing to have lasted and built a career and to be making records.
How would you describe your sound in your own words.
I don't know. It's just an amalgamation and plethora of everything that I am. I'm very, very rock and roll, very soul. I'm all those things, so that's where you get the different elements when you listen to variations of music. Even from Organized Konfusion to now, you can get something very soulful, something very eclectic.
Who are some of your major influences, musically?
Coltrane, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Kool G Rap, KRS-One, De la Soul
Are you getting pretty excited for SXSW?
Yeah, man, the rehearsal's today. We might try to have something extra special...I'm definitely excited.
Will this be your first time there?
Nah, I think I did it in 99 or 2000, back when Internal Affairs came out.
Tell me about the show you're playing. It looks like your on a bill Friday night with some pretty solid old school hip-hop artists like Buckshot, Smif N Wessun and B-Real. Is this an exciting lineup to be a part of?
Definitely man, I was just talking with my manager and he ran into Dante Ross who [with] Elektra was responsible for signing Leaders of the New School, KMD and Pete Rock and CL Smooth and he was just talking about Duck Down as a record label, with Buckshot, Smif N Wessun, Heltah Skeltah and Sean Price. All of these things are very resemblant of labels like Stax; very monumental and inspirational. Also, they have not become Bad Boy or Def Jam, they're a very, very respectable and instrumental record label of artists. That's always where my head has been, it's probably why I'm still here but yet when people are interested and I can take advantage of it and I have a thriving career touring and things like that, I always saw the standpoint of when all is said and done what are people going to say about your music and when you look at that and longevity, it pushes you to make different types of records...So I respect those guys immensely to answer your question.
So, will you just be playing the show and taking off or will you be spending much time in Austin hanging out next week?
We might stay an extra day. I want to get back and start rehearsing for the tour of Canada with Slaughterhouse and then I'll release my album W.A.R. shortly after and start touring for that record. So, we might have an extra day in Texas and I'll try to enjoy some bbq and take it easy.
So you have a new album coming out, what can you tell us about that?
It's been said that it's my best album today. It's the most cohesive album. It's a call to writers, artists, poets, even 9-5 people who think off the beating path. It's a call and a warning to them to how the mindset is targeted and obviously the powers that be don't want thinking individuals with opinions and ideas to be the big percentage of our population. So, I feel like when you are different and you come up with ideas that are creative, you're kind of looked at as crazy. There's an attack on that. So, this war is an attack on that, a war against the industry, war against the machine, war against the authority, war within ourselves to not have fear and to express in that manner. It's an acronym for We Are Renegades. When you say the word war, of course, true images come to mind, but it's a very informative, brilliant and it's not an angry record at all....It's hardcore, but I'm not mad at anyone....I worked with Vernon Reid, from rock n' roll's Living Colour, he played guitar on the title track, "War," which I just listened to 25 times in a row. The sh*t is amazing, it's brilliant.
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