| @Pharoahe Monch | Pharoahe Monch


While a member of the New York City duo Organized Konfusion, Pharoahe Monch developed a reputation as one of underground hip-hop's preeminent lyricists, crafting intricate and intelligent raps with partner Prince Poetry. After recording three albums together from 1991-1997, the two split up amicably, and Monch pursued a more aggressive solo style with the terrific independent label Rawkus. He made guest appearances on other artists' records and contributed tracks to the Rawkus compilation Soundbombing, Vol. 2, which raised expectations for his solo debut. The single/video "Simon Says" was released in the summer of 1999 and became a massive hit among rap and club audiences, setting the stage for a surprising debut -- just short of the Top 40 -- for the full-length Internal Affairs upon its release several months later. While he didn't release a second album -- Desire -- until 2007, he was active throughout the intervening years, with fiery singles like "The Life" (with Styles) and "Agent Orange," along with featured spots on tracks by Ras Kass, J Dilla, Pete Rock, and Sa-Ra. The wait would be halved for the rapper’s third album, with the conceptual W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) arriving in 2011, four years after 2007's Desire. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi