Pharoahe Monch – “Time2”

May 6th, 2014 by | Tags:

One of my favorite aspects of music is how easily it can transport me to someplace else. Whether it’s uplifting, grimey, freaky, realistic, whatever—a song can change how you think for a moment in time. You’re not at your desk, filing papers and cheating with Tumblr. You’re doing WORK, reading BLOGS, at the SAME DAMN TIME. You’re not about to cheat on your old man or old lady. You’re about to creep, yeah, and keep that on the down low. It’s the music and the lyrics combining to be something incredible. Some artists are better at it than others, but I think good songs are generally songs you can fall into and believe in for three minutes.

Pharoahe Monch’s “Time2” is a song that hits it. It’s about overcoming, and the main ingredient in triumph is adversity. The chorus is a plea for help, the first line is about the eternal struggle, and the song is about being in over your head. It was inspired partially by a man’s real-life meltdown in Times Square, and this verse is crucial:

La-la-la-last ye-ye-year they hired me
And this-s-s-s we-we-we-we-week the-the-they fired me
And I g-g-g-got all these b-b-b-b-bills to pay
And what the f-f-f-f-fu-f-f-fuck am I supposed to say
T-t-t-t-to my wife she’s p-p-p-p-pregnant
And if the kid does not go to college his life’s irrelevant
And my-my-my melanin-n-n-n makes me a felon
And-nd I just wanna take this fuckin’ c-c-crack and sell it

Musicians are performers, and all of them play roles. Sometimes that role is limited to their own, but when they branch out and start bringing in or acknowledging other points of view, things get good. I’m thinking of Nas talking to a kid in “One Love,” Freddie Gibbs trying to figure out if his girl stepping out on him for somebody at her college makes her stank or him immature, Lana Del Rey mocking her lover on several songs, or Kanye making records about self-loathing and pride. There’s something special there, and here, Monch kills.

The role Monch is playing here is one of someone who has lost his job and has no real options left. It’s a common story, everyone knows the tune, but the stuttering is what got me here. It makes this character Monch is playing real. It’s a little addition that changes everything, like when characters in movies actually stop to eat or a martial artist pauses to visibly catch his breath mid-fight. It grounds the narrative, and in so doing, makes it something out of real life. It’s different from just saying it.

Monch is one of the most technically gifted rappers ever, and it shows in this verse. He’s always bending and blending syllables, but the effect I get from melanin/felon and/and, and the way they all play off “fuckin,” is the type of thing that makes you want to run a track back.

“Time2” is off Monch’s PTSD, an album that might just be my main thing this year. Heartfelt, emotional, and it’s so real that I keep coming back to it. This isn’t even the most emotionally-charged moment on the album, though it’s pretty high up there. It’s about depression, it’s about feeling bad, it’s about going through it, it’s about getting better and being better. Monch can take you somewhere real with lines as simple as “My family customs were not accustomed to dealing with mental health/It was more or less an issue for white families with wealth” or as rugged as “You dont figitty faze me yo, I won’t tigitty tase you bro/Figgity fucking cut you in half like it’s nothing minus the laser scope.”

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

One comment to “Pharoahe Monch – “Time2””

  1. This album is fantastic, and “Time2” is one of the highlights.

    Pharoahe Monch is just operating on a different level. He’s intricate without being confusing, complex without being complicated. He never sacrifices clarity for the sake of technical wizardry. He’s extremely lyrical AND visual. It’s just amazing that he’s addressing real issues while rapping with nearly infinite flows and styles.

    Even though it’s still early, I agree that this may end up being my favorite album this year.