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Always one to take his time between albums, Pharoahe Monch has returned with possibly his best album since 1999’s Internal Affairs. He’s touching on various important social issues, most notably mental health awareness, and also flexing his lyrical muscles to remind us why he’s an all-time hip-hop legend. This is somewhat of a concept album that’s a direct sequel to 2011’s W.A.R., as Pharoahe brings us into the mindstate of someone who’s just been through war and struggles to feel “normal” again.
The album starts off pretty gloomy, as the first few songs are about struggling with post traumatic stress disorder and depression, and Pharoahe Monch stutters on purpose in some of his verses. The middle section of the album is my favourite, as Monch gets more aggressive and braggadocios. “Damage” continues a theme he’s had on all of his albums where he personifies a bullet, and “Bad M.F.” and “Rapid Eye Movement” have the lyrical acrobatics on full display. Pharoahe then takes a more macro perspective over the next few songs, including “Jungle”, which has the familiar drum loop from Raekwon’s “Incarcerated Scarfaces”. He gets a little more introspective before ending things on a positive note with the Talib Kweli-assisted “D.R.E.A.M.” and a remix of “The Grand Illusion” from W.A.R..
The time Pharoahe Monch takes between albums is worth it, as you can tell he puts in a great effort to make a solid, cohesive body of work. With P.T.S.D., he takes us on a roller coaster of high and low moods, sometimes rhyming in a peaceful tone and other times literally screaming in our ears. I personally enjoyed seeing Pharoahe rap about out-rapping other rappers, letting his wordplay and versatile flow shine. While he puts a lot of energy into having an important message in his music, it was great seeing that fun side of him again.
My Grade: B+
Remember to check back here tomorrow to see which album came in at #12 on the countdown!