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Pharoahe Monch, ‘W.A.R.’ (Duck Down)

Mosi Reeves // March 22, 2011

Pharoahe Monch has mostly sold “wood in the hood” during a two-decade career (as he admitted in his sole hit, 1999’s “Simon Says”). But on W.A.R., the Queens MC is still in a linguistic fervor, rapping about being in the streets “like catalytic converters” on “Clap (one day)” and comparing himself to a preacher with a “.38 snub-nose” on “Let My People Go.” Major-label misadventures still trouble him — on “The Hitman,” he blames SRC/Universal for poorly promoting his 2007 gem, Desire. But that doesn’t stop him from focusing on more resonant issues, like the Cairo protests (“Calculated Amalgamation”): “No justice, no peace, no settle / We are renegades, fuck your gold medal.”