Thursday 27/07/06 @ 93 Feet East, London.
93 Feet East is to say one of the smallest venues that this hip-hop obsessed music journalist has ever had the pleasure of visiting. So with that in mind, upon entering the dimly lit shoe box the only two things in view are a bar that's neatly tucked away to one side (which also has a queue longer than Peter Crouch's leg span), and a room full of sweaty hip-hop fanatics ready to get the fuck up. After grabbing myself a quick cold one (courtesy of the good people at Hyperlaunch New Media) it's time to find a spot in which I can prepare to view one of the most anticipated returns in rap since Mos Def gave us "Black On Both Sides", disappeared, and then returned five years later with "The New Danger". That's right; Pharoahe Monch is back on the block and ready to kick some serious commercially appalling hip-hop ass.
Having started his career as part of rap duo Organized Konfusion, Pharoahe Monch will without question be your favourite rapper's favourite rapper. He doesn't need a gun to do his talking for him and he certainly doesn't need any form of jewellery to prove his status; and if you think you can find an MC that truly believes that he or she can fuck with what Pharoahe has to offer, then I guarantee the next time we meet you'll be wearing a straight jacket and screaming, "duhhhhhhhhh," because you must be crazy! After dropping what many people believe to be a hip-hop classic, Pharoahe disappeared from the scene for a number of years and has only just reappeared this year. With an anti-gun campaign well underway plus a new album due out before the year is up, being at 93 Feet East this evening couldn't mean anymore to a true hip-hop fan than it does at this point in time to me.
Stepping on stage donning a white army-like baseball cap, Pharoahe takes one look at the tightly packed audience stood in front of him and excitedly says, "Wow, there are some real hip-hop fans in here." Alerting me to the fact that there isn't a chav in site, Pharoahe jumps straight into a few classics that seem so much more enjoyable without a fake gold-wearing, Burberry cap-rocking idiot stood next to me. A riot almost breaks out within the first few minutes due to the emotionally aggressive feel that the "Training Day" theme tune "Fuck You" injects in to the hearts of each individual who parted ways with their hard earned cash to see the talent stood in front of us. Dropping a few gems from his 1999 Rawkus Records release "Internal Affairs", as well as a few from his soon-to-be-released sophomore album, none rile up the already buck-wild London crowd like "Right Here". In between the displays of untouchable lyricism, the hook rowdily spits, "Aiyyo Uptown (What!?)/ The Bridonx (What!?)/ Long Isle (What!?)/ Stridong (What!?)/ Brooklyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyn!". Replacing the word Brooklyn with London, Pharoahe's gesture goes down like a porno star… incredibly.
Apart from the above mentioned there is of course one other track that guarantees the type of crowd reaction that has only before been seen in a rock concert mosh pit. From the moment the "Simon Says" beat drops, clothes go flying, mobile phones fall on the floor, and arms raise the roof higher than building cranes. Witnessing Pharoahe lyrically sodomise the beat in person is something one can only dream of, and when it comes true, it feels like every breath taken is literally plucked from each of your lungs by the soul seeking lyrical taskforce that Pharoahe's brain compiles. Blowing up the spot with its heavy bass line and quick-witted word structure, the man on the mic decides to drop it once more just before the close of this unbelievable night. This evening was the present that every kid hopes to unwrap on Christmas morning, and every partner prays to open on Valentines Day. Pharoahe Monch is the reason why so many rap fans can look in the mirror everyday and say that they still love hip-hop.