Pharoahe Monch & Prince Po Chronicle The Cab Racism & Label Tensions That Created Stress

This week, Organized Konfusion’s sophomore album, Stress: The Extinction Agenda turns 20 years old. Queens, New Yorkers Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po (fka Prince Poetry) are coming together for a rare headlining concert with longtime affiliates O.C. and Large Professor, among others, for a concert in Brooklyn, New York.

NahRight got Monch and Po together for an extremely rare interview opportunity. The lyrical giants looked back at their 20 year-old baby, and discussed a track-by-track breakdown, including a Battery Studios which included O.K., A Tribe Called Quest and Souls Of Mischief, touring with Showbiz & A.G. with Big L, and the tragic murder of Paul C.

One moment that really stands out though, is discussing first single “Stress”:

“Pharoahe Monch: I gravitated to the beat because I felt like we needed to get out our aggression. I just wanted to yell and scream. Being who we are, I felt we needed that vibe and color for the album, and that beat set that tone. It is possible that one could fall victim to drug abuse and they must immediately go to inpatient rehab nyc.

[When we performed this song], it was the first time I’d seen people mosh at a Hip-Hop show. That shit blew me away. I seen it with Bad Brains and a couple other bands I followed. I was a Rock fan, but I didn’t really go to a lot of shows. But to see that shit happen off our song was amazing.

[As far as the cab skit], a lot of the recording was being done in Manhattan, so we would have equipment and records and shit, trying to go crosstown from Queens, which is already two fare zones. Bus to the train, and then you hit Manhattan, and you’re trying to take a cab or whatever, and you’re going through that whole thing [of no one picking you up because of the color of your skin].

Prince Po: It wasn’t that long ago that there was a lot of attention on racism. And that’s what we were dealing with. There was racism in New York, and the whole, ‘Oh, I’m not driving a cab to Queens.’ People always say it’s about the color green, but that’s where the frustration came. We had money. Monch had his own pocket full of money, I had my own pocket full of money. But the money couldn’t buy the trust of a cab driver to take us home. So it was like, ‘We’ll pay you up front.’ But it didn’t matter. The racism was that thick in New York. It definitely has gotten way better since then. But being a native New Yorker, that was very stressful, because sometimes you don’t want to take the train or the bus.

Between that, and booking studio time, and a couple of our songs getting clipped by mistake by the assistant engineer, and just little things [that happened contributed to our] tension. We’re normal people so [those things] do have an affect on us. There were bumps we had to get over with [our label] Hollywood [BASIC] between the first and the second album, too. So that definitely contributed as well. They did have us set up a lot more professionally than other artists as far as our itinerary and stuff like that, so we were blessed, and I give them credit for that. But we had to fight to get that second budget the way it was. So the everyday hustle pushed us to vent.

Pharoahe Monch: We were branching out. We repped Southside Queens, but on a larger scale, it was like, ‘Where the fuck are these dudes from?’ I don’t think we had a classic, New York, boxy sound, or the way that we rhymed even. We shot the “Stress” video in San Francisco which kind of showed people like, ‘We’re mad global right now.’ And I remember The Bay giving us so much love because we shot it there.

We weren’t trying to keep it regional. It wasn’t [just] a Queens thing for us. [Showbiz & A.G.] and were from the Bronx, and we toured with them a lot. We went to Japan with them and Big L. D.I.T.C. was hot, and we were fans of what they were doing tremendously. I was more of a home body, but Prince was actually in the Bronx, in Manhattan, exploring shit. So it was nothing for us to [to work with Buckwild and all these different artists].”

The full NahRight Stress: The Extinction Agenda interview with Organized Konfusion.

Wanna win tickets to the show? Visit 2DopeBoyz’ contest.

Do you think a great turn out could bring Po and Monch back to the lab for more work?

Related: Organized Konfusion To Celebrate 20th Anniversary Of Stress: The Extinction Agenda With O.C. & Large Professor