An Intimate Look: Pharoahe Monch’s “Rapid Eye Movement” Part 1

On the 1st anniversary of the P.T.S.D album release, Hip Hop Hub invites J-J Coyle to take an intimate look at the lyrical prowess of Pharoahe Monch in the track “Rapid Eye Movement“, and a suspected feud with Jay Z…

“Rapid Eye Movement” (REM) on Pharoahe Monch’s fourth solo album, POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, places the Queens MC alongside fellow Hip Hop heavy-weight Black Thought.  In what was dubbed as the part two of “Assassins, Monch calls the Roots’ MC for help to escape the Matrix of the Music Industry and catch the ears of Hip Hop fans, over a compelling Marco Polo beat.


Pharoahe Monch enlisted Black Thought for the track “Rapid Eye Movement”

Thought brings the record home in spectacular fashion through aggression, memorable punch lines and his own multi-syllabic rhymes schemes.  The Philly legend also incorporates the album’s theme, as he talks about seeing a psychiatrist, while continuing the concept of abstract themes and imagery.

It is a verse that Monch humbly conceded bettered his offerings, but here there will be a view on Monch’s own cryptic scriptures encrypted with backwards vernacular.

In the prelude to “REM” – “The Recollection Facility Pt. 2a computerised voice calls out to Pharoahe, who is in deep sleep; where Rapid Eye Movement and intense dreams occur. Therefore, Monch’s verses are abstract to reflect a dream state of mind.

From braggadocios rhymes to asserting his manifesto, Monch utilises a variety of themes – comedy, sci-fi, social-political, and bullet personification – through diverse imagery to create his dream-like expression.

Most of the themes convey a reflection of the lyricist’s personality.  For comedic effect, Monch grows five times his size and slaps a rapper with Ma$e and is “twice as magnifying as ever hearing Chewbacca scream”. The reference to Star Wars is also accompanied by Monch’s transition of elements from copper to gold, reflecting his passion for science.


Pharoahe Monch’s P.T.S.D was released on 15th April 2014

His political stance: providing highs to the lower social economical bracket, as “a man made medical marijuana”.
Like his symbol the protective Eye of Horus, Monch positions himself as the opposite of the Illuminati:

The opposite of Mephistopheles’ eye inside an isosceles,
sent to Earth to warn of environmental atrocities…
Through a megaphone with the significance of Dr King, philanthropic,
‘cause I’m trying to see Man United without referencing UK Soccer teams

And as a pioneer of arms’ personification rap – the trilogy of bullet personification debuted on the 1994 Organized Konfusion classic “Stray Bullet released 18 months before Nas’ “I Gave You PowerMonch spits:  

With an arrangement of bullets that I have arranged,
encrypted in scriptures specific individual names

Thematically the ideas appear scattered and discombobulated, which fits into the notion that Monch is dreaming, whilst the abstract imagery is sent into overdrive as Monch ploughs his way through fine pieces of art:

…piss on a Picasso, Crack Statues,
rub my balls on a Banksy,
shit on it and throw it at you

The above line stands out as an anomaly.  Monch, an art school product, renowned for pushing artistic barriers, is anything but a destroyer of art.

It is this bar that fuelled podcast legends Shawn Setaro (The Cipher) and Combat Jack (The Combat Jack Show) to ask in an interview whether there was any reference to Jay Z.  Both of which were denied, as Monch claimed that “REM” was written prior Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby“…

click here for part 2

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