Pharoahe Monch @ The Globe, Cardiff

If you holding up the wall, then you missing the point

THE force of energy that is Pharoahe Monch steps across the Globe stage to loud cheers with his DJ and small band having already built the sense of anticipation for the enigmatic Queens MC.
Munch1 MAIN

On a sweaty, humid July 1 night in the Welsh capital Monch will soon discard his ceremonial, military style jacket as he get straight into his no compromising set.

When you have a hit such as ‘Fuck You’ in your back catalogue there can be no option other than performing on the front foot and sidekick DJ Kamron instructs the crowd to put middle fingers in the air.

Loud and aggressive club bangers though are only part of Monch’s output. He tells the crowd in the 350 capacity ‘intimate venue’ which he ‘loves’ as ‘you can see people’s faces and whether they love hip hop’ he’s fed up of the bullshit in hip hop. At a Monch show we’re all ‘intellectuals’.

Monch, whose career stretches back to the early 90s when he was part of the duo Organized Konfusion, has always produced material with street appeal and complex lyrics. ‘Damage’, which borrows from LL Cool J’s ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ is such an example, and Monch explains how it is written from the perspective of a bullet.

But some things are even too complicated for Monch’s lyricism. He seems unable to express his frustration as he speaks directly to the crowd about the deaths of black men at the hands of the police. He turns to DJ Boogie Blind who drops the classics ‘Sound of Da Police’ (Krs-One) and ‘Fuck Tha Police’ (NWA) before regaining the mic for ‘Clap (One Day)’ his ironic appreciation of the ‘po-lice’.

Boogie Blind is the centre of attention when Monch and the Ezra Collective, three young Londoners who met Monch at Ronny Scott’s jazz club and are now touring with him, leave the stage for the DJ to showcase his cutting and scratching skills on the 1210s.

When Monch returns to the stage he clutches a green, plastic water pistol which he shoots himself to the side of the head with at the end of the song as he drops to his knees.

Monch has so much more than rap braggadocio and sings the hook to ‘Broken Again’ from his latest album ‘PTSD’ and explains the ambiguity in the lyrics that it could be referring to an addiction to either drugs or a relationship break up.

The MC constantly keeps the audience in mind, not only with plenty of audience participation but anecdotes about the problems of passing through Brussels airport this week with a ‘terrorist beard’ to backstage conversations with Busta Rhymes.

Monch performs ‘Oh No’ as a tribute to the late Nate Dogg who he and Mos Def collaborated with for the anthem and the rapid fire performance, that only lasted an hour and five minutes, reaches its inevitable climax with the club monster ‘Simon Says’.

Though only 11pm a clue to how shit would start pumping was DJ Boogie Blind covering his laptop with a towel. Soon Kamron was spraying a bottle of water across the crowd and beers were flying and bodies bouncing.

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