For hip hop emcee Troy Donald Jamerson, bka Pharoahe Monch, to stumble never means to fall, but instead, it’s a chance to move forward faster.
Let’s start with Jamerson’s name: A bad haircut in high school left him looking like a chimpanzee, so girls in Monch's class began calling him "Monchhichi,” after the popular 80s toy. He let the name stick, and later shortened it to "Monch.” Then Monch adopted “Pharoahe,” after meeting Prince Poetry, his future partner in the group Organized Konfusion.
Together with “Prince Po,” Monch released three albums: The self-titled Organized Konfusion (1991), Stress: The Extinction Agenda (1994) and The Equinox (1997). All three albums received positive critical reviews. Organized Konfusion came about in the early 90s, during “The Golden Age of Hip Hop,” arguably hip hop’s peak and where some of the greatest hip hop legends were conceived.
Monch then signed to Rawkus Records as a solo artist, dropping Internal Affairs in 1999. In 2000, Monch was featured with Mos Def and Nate Dogg on the hit song "Oh No" from the Rawkus compilation record Lyricist Lounge 2, a huge hit and one of his most notable singles to date.
Twenty years after his first release, Monch admits that the style of popular hip hop today, in many ways, has evolved away from the type of sound that birthed him as an artist. In addition, technology has facilitated a flooded marketplace, creating greater challenges for standing out amongst a chorus of millions.
But, he’s not fazed. He’s always looked at challenges as opportunities:
“We’ve had to get creative, because with all the noise that’s out there now on the radio, it’s just too much nonsense to weave through to find the truth,” says Monch.
“But therein lies the opportunity to build another medium. We’re back to having to do what we used to do to market to our audiences, through tours and word-of-mouth. Basically where my head is at, and not to sound cliché, but I’m about being the change that I’m complaining about and being the change that I need to see."
On his most recent album, W.A.R. (We Are Renegades), released independently in March 2011, the album charted at #54 on the Billboard 200.
“W.A.R. is an acronym for We Are Renegades,” Monch told Bed-Stuy Patch. “The record is selling really really well on an independent level, and the video is getting crazy hits on YouTube. From a business aspect, album sales are insane in the context of money spent, versus money earned. We’re at 30,000 sold as an independent.”
Bed-Stuy, get ready to Rock, as Pharoahe Monch comes to Restoration Plaza’s stage this Saturday, October 8, from 12:00pm – 5:00pm for the
Note: This excerpt was taken from an earlier BSP article, "," published July 1, 2011.