Sunday, 3 June 2007

Pharoahe Monch and hip hop cover versions

Pharoahe Monch’s “long-awaited sophomore album”, Desire, is likely to make a lot of end-of-year lists. The songs jump all over the place, from early single ‘Gun Draws’ to the ‘Hey Ya’ feel of goofy come-on ‘Body Baby’, and the production is “unobtrusive” to put it kindly, but it’s a solid album by a talented MC, with a couple of things to say (even if they are, hey, guns and A&R people are baaaad). He does good videos, too:

Pharoahe Monch – ‘Gun Draws’

Slightly odder is the inclusion of a pretty straight cover of Public Enemy’s ‘Welcome To The Terrordome’. Is Monch trying to rehabilitate Chuck D’s reputation as a rapper, as opposed to a righteous, intelligent shouter with a penchant for horrific puns? Is he pointing out how PE’s rhetoric is as relevant today as it was fifteen, twenty years ago, and that simply repeating their points is a political statement? Either way: fair dinkum, erm, Pharoahe.

Pharoahe Monch – ‘Welcome to the Terrordome’ (from Desire)

Public Enemy – ‘Welcome to the Terrordome’ (from Fear of a Black Planet)

By my count, that draws PE level with Slick Rick at three high-profile cover versions a-piece: Monch’s ‘Terrordome’, Tricky’s ‘Black Steel’ and, ahem, Duran Duran’s ‘911 Is A Joke’, against Snoop’s ‘La Di Da Di’, Jay-Z’s ‘The Ruler’s Back’, and Black Star’s ‘Children’s Story’ (though the Rick covers are more like re-tellings).

Tricky – ‘Black Steel’ (from Maxinquaye)

Can’t think of any more straight rap covers, unless we’re going to get into Ben Folds / Jonathan Coulton comedy territory (incidentally, that Duran Duran version – not comedy). Any ideas, holla. Anyway, here’s Raekwon doing a frighteningly assured re-working of Nas’ ‘The World Is Yours’:

Raekwon – ‘The World Is Yours’ (from the Prelude to Cuban Linx 2 Mixtape)

Pharoahe Monch – ‘Body Baby’

More fun:

Sniffy track-by track review by Byron Crawford

Enthusiastic write-up at the Smoking Section

Buy Desire

Buy Public Enemy

Buy Maxinquaye

Buy Raekwon

1 comment:

ian said...

Agree - that was a nice cover of Nas by Raekwon...