Über Pharoahe Monch
Late-'90s Rawkus boho rappers are as known for their "smooth" flows as for politically charged messages. But Pharoahe Monch has a high, nasally voice and a tightly wound delivery that makes the N.Y. rapper sound more crazed than conscious. This intensity lends a vitality that other emcees in his division can't match. Monch began his career as one-half of seminal N.Y. group Organized Konfusion but went solo in 1999 with the smash hit "Simon Says," which copped the theme song from Godzilla as its anchoring sample. The subsequent album, Internal Affairs, was more hard-edged than his previous work and featured excellent production work via Diamond D, the Alchemist and Pharoahe himself. It was heralded as one of the best albums of the year, and Pharoahe was recognized as one of the most charismatic and technically gifted emcees in the Rotten Apple. There's no good reason why it took him the better part of a decade to release his sophomore solo album, but the excellent Desire was worth the wait.