In the second part of J-J Coyle’s analysis of “Rapid Eye Movement”, Hip Hop Hub delves into Freud’s dream world, the history between Pharoahe Monch and Jay Z with a possible motive for these two lyricists to lock horns…
According to Sigmund Freud, when we dream our abstract images are coded and provide an unconscious message. For example, issues we have that we may push aside will be thought about in our dreams in a disguised manner.
Dreams can be split into two categories: the manifest, and the latent. ‘The manifest’ in a dream is the story or the recorded scrambled events or images which the dreamer remembers. However, the real meaning of the dream is masked by the dreamer in what Freud refers to as ‘the latent’.
If we therefore viewed this track as a direct attack on Jay Z, the line no longer becomes an anomaly but the latent, offering a greater context to the verses.
A Brief History & Possible Motif
Jay Z’s 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt, included the DJ Premier produced “Bring It On“. Copying the same title from Organized Konfusion’s “Bring It On“ (1994), Jay Z spits “crime organized like the Pharoahe”; in effect taking Monch’s name in vain (“Scream“, PTSD), as the Queens’ MC has no affiliation with ‘Gangsta Rap’.
Before signing with SRC for the release of Desire (2007), Monch shopped his work to Jay Z with the ironically named “When the Gun Draws“. He revealed in an interview how Jay Z had enthused over “When the Gun Draws”, before indicating that he wouldn’t be able to offer a meaningful budget to promote the record.
“I’m sitting there and shit is playing and “When The Gun Draws” comes on and [Jay Z’s] like, “What the fuck?! What the fuck is that?!” I’m like, “Word? That’s the shit you like?” He’s like, “This shit is crazy, Pharoahe! This shit is crazy, B! You should’ve played this first!””
– Pharoahe Monch on Jay Z
Pharoahe laughed off the meeting and proceeded to be at his witty best on an unofficial remix of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab“. As he raps “they say Pharoahe is too eclectic“, an inference could be made on the stated meeting.
Jay Z then jumped on an official remix of “Rehab“ within weeks opening with “you are now rocking with the best Amy”. More significantly, in the ending bars, Jay claims his flow is deadly; implying that he had killed Pharoahe’s flow:
Amy should’ve rehabbed him,
‘stead she doubled his ration,
Can you blame me for being a slave to my passion.
My heroin flows more lethal than Marilyn’s nose,
I’mma OD till I’m in peace like Anna Nicole.
Warning Shots: The Matrix (October 2008)
Pharoahe’s flow on Black Milk’s “The Matrix” is extraordinary, even for his own lofty standards. Apart from the clear warning to someone, it is notable that Jay Z’s voice is sampled (“Excuse Me Miss“) saying “I’m caught in the Matrix”:
I bomb crews I’m hot,
I’m cool the top gun but not,
the Fonz or Tom Cruise I got,
a pool of lyrical warning shots
that you shouldn’t respond to.
Monch also makes accusations of plagiarism: “While y’all bite like parasites and pit-bulls”.
Still Standing (March 2011)
The sole overt Jay Z reference to appear in Monch’s lyrics, as he says that he is still standing without having to sell drugs, or sell music glorifying drugs:
Crack never peddled that,
opposite of Jigga man
… like the statue of liberty
my knees will never bend
Pharoahe Monch will never sell-out his people or Hip Hop as Jay Z appears to have.