Pharoahe Monch Discusses Early Hip-Hop Experiences & Why He Still Loves H.E.R. (Video)

Last week, respected DJ/producer J. Period orchestrated a “live mixtape” Hip-Hop event featuring Rap performances by Rakim, Black Thought, and Pharoahe Monch. Surprise guest performers included Smif-n-Wessun, Dres and Chi-Ali, Eric B., as well as Mumu Fresh. Yasiin Bey appeared on stage, but did not perform. In addition to rapping and DJ’ing, the Dynamic Rockers break-dance troop displayed their talents on stage while a painter also created a portrait to commemorate the event at New York City’s Sony Hall.

Ambrosia For Heads founder Reggie Williams sat down with a panel of the night’s performers (Pharoahe, Mamu and J. Period) to discuss participating in the live mixtape process. Additionally, the three artists reminisced about their early days of listening, watching, and eventually, recording music.

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At around the 7:36 mark, Pharoahe Monch describes his early experience in recording. “I didn’t have any f*cking equipment,” the Queens, New Yorker recalls. “It was the pause-tape era, and you would find breaks and actually try to chop the breaks and loop the breaks at different parts. We had the double cassette recorder – record, pause, record – and then we’d write raps over the pause-tape sh*t. Even the vibe of how that sounded and how that was off and every pause and click wasn’t perfect; it gave a live feeling to it and a dope vibe to it.”

“The origins man,” he continues, drawing parallels to J. Period’s event. Monch has participated in other “Live Mixtapes” with J. before. “When you go back to the original reason why you fell in love with something it always feels organic, and it makes people reflect. I can tell just by looking at a couple of the faces in the audience tonight that they were like, ‘this may be some of my favorites but they’re in the moment, this is off the cusp,’ this is a thing we’re doing, and that’s what that sh*t was like.”

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Toward the end of the group chat, the trio is asked about their current-day love for Hip-Hop. The Organized Konfusion co-founder brings it all full-circle. “I’m blessed to be moved by [the foundation of Hip-Hop],” he said. “It wasn’t about the money. It was like, ‘I have to be a part of this movement. That’s the original foundation of where my drive is from. I want to recreate that feeling in my head in different ways. That’s the foundation of where it’s from—how do you motivate somebody to be like, ‘I want to do that thing’ or send that vibration off. That’s where it comes from for me: from the culture.”

Pharoahe Monch is presently wrapping-up a follow-up album to 2014’s P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Earlier this month, he proclaimed it his “hardest” and “darkest” work to date.

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Photograph by Photo Rob aka Robert Adam Mayer.