I spent most of my recent review for Pharoahe Monch’s new album W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) praising the immaculate lyricists refusing to water down his relentlessly deep and confrontational flows. While that musical courage makes Pharoahe a rare breed, he’s not alone, as new release Assassins proves. A sci-fi introduction by Idris Elba (a.k.a. Stringer Bell) sets up the concept nicely, producer M-Phazes follows with an appropriately dark and cinematic beat and then the lyrical barrage begins. First up is Jean Grae, who it must be said is destroying everything she touches lately (see Base for Your Face and R.I.P.), followed by an aggressive and hilarious verse from the headliner (check the Dick Cheney reference). Closing out the festivities is Slaughterhouse representative Royce da 5’9”, who drops a predictably NSFW verse that demands at least a couple rewinds. In the end this is actually pretty simple. If you’re digging Assassins I guarantee you’ll love you some Pharoahe’s new album, available now. And if you’re not stay far, far away. Not everyone’s built to withstand the rigors of W.A.R.
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