Diggin’ Through the Crates: Pharoahe Monch “Agent Orange”

Artist: Pharoahe Monch

Song: “Agent Orange”

Album: The Awakening (2003), a mixtape that preluded his second studio album (Desire). Free download here.

Before we begin, let’s just start out by introducing a lot of you to Pharoahe Monch, as not many I’ve spoken with have had the pleasure of listening to this hidden star of Hip-Hop. While not achieving a lot of commercial success, anything that comes out of Pharoahe’s mouth is lyrical gold. Starting out as half of the group Organized Konfusion, Pharoahe quickly gained the reputation of being a cerebral and entertaining emcee. Since his solo debut in 1999, Internal Affairs, Pharoahe has blown up the independent scene, tackling social and political topics with such clarity and hilarity.

Lyric: “It’s not a Game Boy, X-Box or PlayStation/It’s Resident Evil when every President’s a mason/ Robbin’ y’all fools like Dick Grayson”

Meaning/Character Reference:

Holy “Agent Orange,” Pharoahe Monch! That sure sounds scary and intense. In the mixtape leading to his second album, Desire, he reminds listeners that he is not only a wordsmith but is quite comic savvy, as well. “Agent Orange” is a song portraying the horrid war-time nature the United States government has been proved to display, referencing the US’ use of herbicidal warfare in the Vietnam War that left hundreds of thousands civilians starving and/or permanently physically deformed. When Pharoahe Monch starts listing off the game systems of our past, present, and future, he is basically throwing a brick through Congress windows with a note attached saying, “NOT TODAY, GOVERNMENT! DO I LOOK LIKE A BRAND NEW MORTAL KOMBAT VS. DC UNIVERSE GAME? BECAUSE I AM NOT TO BE PLAYED WITH” – sassy finger snapping ensues. Gloriously, Pharoahe Monch reaches out to the comic book world and pays homage to a superhero that only seek one thing – justice. Don’t lie; you said justice in your best Batman voice, didn’t you? What he is saying is that the system is robbin’ knowledge, power, and all that other good stuff from We, the People. For those of you out there who are wondering who Dick Grayson is, he is the only dude who can look badass in a red speedo, green gloves and a yellow cape, ROBIN! Boom, there is that AHA moment!  Pharoahe Monch is similar to Robin because they are both underrated and underestimated. If Dick Grayson can evolve from Robin into Nightwing, then maybe, just maybe, Pharoahe Monch can turn into Ra…sure, let’s go with that.

It's a Dick... in a box
It’s a Dick… in a box

Fun Fact: In Eminem’s “Rap God,” which we featured on last week’s “Diggin’ Through the Crates” piece, actually references Pharoahe Monch, a heralded Hip-Hop artist in the underground community. As a lifetime fan of both, it’s refreshing to hear that even a pop legend like Eminem knows who the real artists are: “I know there was a time where once I/Was king of the underground, but I still rap like I’m on my Pharoahe Monch grind.”

That does it for this week guys! Check back next week for more nerd-infused Hip-Hop. Also, if you’re interested at all in learning more about the artist or the subject matter in our posts, don’t hesitate to ask. Pharoahe Monch’s fourth solo album, entitled P.T.S.D., is slated for a release January 2014. Be sure to check us out for a comprehensive review on that! Til next time, nerds…

Written by Evan Lowe and Sherif Elkhatib

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Eminem “Rap God”

You know what’s more gangsta than some Hip-Hop? Hip-Hop with lyrics about comics! You may not know it, but there are tons of artists out in the world that are nerdy at heart. Underneath those expensive jackets and gold chains lie Superman S’s, Batman spotlights, and Spiderman webs that slide ever so subtly out of rappers’ mouths. Little do you know, those kids reading comic books in class are going to grow up to be rappers…yup…rappers. So it comes with great pleasure that I present to you all an addition to Hush that involves my two great loves – Hip-Hop and Comics, YO!

Artist: Eminem

Song: “Rap God”

Album: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)

Lyric: “Dale Earnhardt of the trailer park, the White Trash God/ Kneel before General Zod; this planet’s Krypton – no Asgard, Asgard/ So you be Thor and I’ll be Odin/ you rodent, I’m omnipotent”

Meaning/Character Reference:

“Rap God” is one of the newest hits that’s come from Slim Shady and it’s obvious that not only does he do his comic research and he is not ashamed to show it, but he also understand the chain of command in both the Marvel and DC world.

Let’s break it down: “Kneel before General Zod this planet’s Krypton, No Asgard, Asgard.” As many of you know, General Zod is the warlord of the lost planet of Krypton, and one of Superman’s ultimate enemies. Eminem has always portrayed his alter ego as the “Bad Guy,” so it would seem that General Zod is very appropriate. One of General Zod’s famous lines in comics is “Kneel before Zod” which is something he says to those he believe is inferior – which is everybody. Fun Fact: Michael Shannon, who plays the role of General Zod in Man of Steel, also plays the boyfriend of Eminem’s mom in 8 Mile…..OH SNAP!!

zod

Seamlessly, Slim moves through universes and dimensions and winds up on Asgard, Asgard (which I can only assume is the capital of Asgard). Now that we are here, who would you think is the biggest badass in that universe? Thor, right? WRONG! Even though Thor is a powerful demi-god, and a premiere member of the Avengers; however, he is not the god of all gods. Odin, Thor’s father, is the greatest of them all. Even Thor knows his place in this world and bows to Odin. Eminem clearly wants the rap game to know that other rap god are still beneath him

odin meme

BONUS LYRIC:

“And I should not be woken/ I’m the walking dead, but I’m just a talking head/ A zombie floating.”

Boom! I gave y’all a bonus lyric just because I can. Once again, Eminem displays his nerdiness by referencing a great comic book series and television show, The Walking Dead. In this rhyme, Em’ is basically saying that if you disturb him from his slumber, it’s only going to be bad news for you. Slim is immortal, y’all! Even if you cut his head off, it can’t stop him. He will still be a floating head inside the Governor’ fish tank rap battling any other undead head that challenges him. Eminem prove to be a rap god to the casket and past it.

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That’s all for now. Check back next week for more Hip-Hop and Comics!

Written by Evan Lowe

The Great Gatsby Soundtrack Review

Have you listened to the music from the new The Great Gatsby reboot?  Why the heck not?!  It’s amazing.  My go-to station on Pandora is the Lana Del Rey station. The eclectic mix on there keeps it fresh.  So when I popped in the Gatsby CD, it was like listening to my favorite music already.  Artists ranging from, of course, Lana Del Rey (whose track “Young and Beautiful” is the main theme song of the movie, and of Gatsby and Daisy), Florence and the Machine, The Xx, Gotye, Jack White, Beyonce, Andre 3000,Fergie and Jay-Z.  And those are just the big names.  The album starts with Jay-Z.  Considering he is the Executive Producer of both the soundtrack and the film, I’m ok with it.  Honestly though, the only redeeming factor about the song is the sampling of quotes taken from the movie.

The rest of the soundtrack is a mix of upbeat, flashy old-timey music that has been updated, but not overly so, for the dub-step era and  somber slow songs that make one feel the weight of the world.

Beyonce and Andre 3000 cover Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” in a way that let’s me know they appreciate Amy.  Nothing will be as good as the original, but I have never heard Beyonce’s voice sound so silky and sexy.  Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” is sure to make anyone dance.  It has the rhythm of the 20’s with hints of modern beats to make old and young feel good about life.  Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” has the same effect on me as most of her songs do, like a sweet sadness has enveloped me, but that it will all be okay.  Basically like being a teenager on the verge of adulthood.  Jack White’s “Love is Blindness” is so wrought with anger that you can’t help but feel Gatsby’s anger at his luckless situation with Daisy throughout the entire film.

The best song on the soundtrack is “Where the Wind Blows” by Coco O.  I have never heard of Coco O. before, but believe me, I am glad I have now.  This song brings out my inner hippie.  It makes me want to dance barefoot in the morning dew. The song is just so dang happy-go-lucky, that you can’t help but sing along to it, and really for me, that is amazing music.

Below are some YouTube links for some the awesome songs.  I won’t go through all the songs as that would be boring.  Who wants to read about them when you can listen?!  Go buy the CD, if you are “old-school” like me, OR go download it on iTunes!

Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful”

Bryan Ferry’s “Love is the Drug”

Florence and the Machine’s “Over the Love”

Coco O.’s “Where the Wind Blows”

The Xx’s “Together”

Gotye’s “Heart’s a Mess”

Jack White’s “Love is Blindness”

Sia’s “Kill and Run”

written by Adrian Puryear

New Lupe Fiasco: Bitch Bad

Lupe Fiasco just put out another song for his highly-anticipated album Food & Liquor II that will be coming out September 25th. Following the release of his first single, “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free),” his new track is already one of my favorites. He released a video for it recently that you can find below.

“Bad Bitch” is a very blatant commentary on the downward spiral that the word “bitch” causes. It’s full of complicated metaphors and entendres. In short, it’s almost safe to say that Lupe Fiasco has put the dark shadow of Lasers behind him. Enjoy the audio on this video below.

I know we can all find way to download these songs – and for lesser-known artists, I do not mind posting harder-to-find tracks to promote the music – but when it comes to actually supporting the artists, the best way to do that is fiscally. If you really like the songs, please spend the extra $1.29 to download the track or buy the album in stores.

written by Evan Lowe

Hip Hop Spotlight: Logic

Many young MCs spend years simply trying to get their name heard. Most of them put out a fist full of mix-tapes to demonstrate their flow and technique. Yet with only three mix-tapes under his belt, Young Maryland rapper Logic a.k.a Young Sinatra is increasingly growing his fan base. Ever since the second tape, Young Sinatra, Logic has made it known that he has what it takes to compete with the big boys. By the release of his third tape, Young Sinatra: Undeniable, which dropped April 2012, Logic has scheduled a national tour doing 25 shows, covering 17 states, and even a show in Canada. The Visionary Music Group Tour kicks off on July 11th in San Diego, California.

With reoccurring themes of stardom and determination to become legendary in the rap game; Logic has pulled no punches on perfecting his craft. It’s obvious in his music and classic flow that he puts in the time and effort in the studio so that when his time comes it’s difficult to deny his skill. One thing that impresses me about this guy is his versatility he can bring to his songs. On his mix-tapes he demonstrates this by putting out songs that will get crowd moving in a second, yet he also talks about his struggles growing up in a not so pleasant childhood, as well as deeper subjects that run through his thoughts. Logic is a breath of fresh air to the rap game and its obvious he puts his heart onto every track.

You can check out all his official mix-tapes, learn more about him, and find ticket information at his website http://www.mindoflogic.com

Logic – One

Logic – The Spotlight

Logic – All I Do

written by Evan Lowe