Lyricist Lounge (Pharoahe Monch, Joell Ortiz and Jin interviews included)

Lyricist Lounge (Pharoahe Monch, Joell Ortiz and Jin interviews included)

New York has been known for its lyricism since the very inception of Hip Hop. With the exception of 2Pac, all of the greatest Hip Hop lyricists come from here. BIG, Big L, Big Pun, Rakim, Nas… Now we have new faces with Papoose and Joell Ortiz representing for our great city…

So it is almost expected that the Lyricist Lounge has been bringing New Yorkers the best this city has to offer in their events. Their latest event at the Canal Room was no exception. Hosted by Pharoahe Monch and featuring performances by Joell Ortiz and Jin, this was an event for a true NY lyrics lover. Noone could ever accuse any of those cats of senselessly repeating punchlines in their hooks or any sort of basic rhyming.

Pharoahe might as well be the very epitome of complex lyricism. Since Rakim changed the way rhymes were delivered there weren’t many people directly impacting the very wordplay itself. Delivery, context matter and level of words vs beats communication differ between almost all of the greats. However the pure lyrical experimentation belongs to only few. Pharoahe is one of those few. Masterfully wrapping verbal expressions around targeted concepts he defines each one of his songs with a different approach. Despite a lack of a high number of albums released, Monch has become almost a household name among many of New Yorkers and beyond. Just about every Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Common listener will have some very admirable words for this artist. Conscious music full of harmony and sense has not been represented a great deal as of late. At least not in the Hot 97 and MTV rotations. Pharoahe keeps it alive for everyone who remembers what Hip Hop has always represented. It wasn’t born as a result of chasing dollars or trying to look supa fly for the ladies. It was born as a form of expression for the urban youth. It was greatly rejected at first and it took many years for the music itself to find its way into hearts and TV screens of almost every house in this country. Now that rhymes flowing over beats are becoming more and more a gesture of pop music, it has been up to artists like Pharoahe Monch to keep the original spirit alive. Don’t get it twisted. He’s not just an underground rapper with a cause. Pharoahe wrote 3 songs on Puffy’s last album. Can you even get more pop than that? Or is that part of why Press Play was a surprisingly successful lyrical album?

Joell Ortiz comes at a time when New York needs fresh new faces the most. After months of various music label offers he opted to go with Aftermath. What? A Cali label you say? Did you know that Raekwon is on it too now? Dre may have taken his time with Detox, but he hasn’t stopped working on new stuff. From Busta to Papoose, he infuses his love for New York into just about everything he does. So, here is his newest act, Joell. A Latin-American rapper, he’s seen it all. Coming from the grime of NY streets, overcoming family hardships and drugs, he managed to make a name for himself long before the deal. Recording tracks with the legends of rap, like Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap, he’s been working with Mike Heron for a long time. Well-known for his freestyles, he brought something fresh and original to the decaying game of NY Hip Hop music. He brought sincerity mixed with word artistry.

Jin is perhaps the most unexpected and best known new battle rapper from this neck of the woods. Defeating other rappers for 7 straight weeks on 106 and Park, he even got indicted into their Hall of Fame. Originally from Miami, he found his home in QB years back. Rapping in Chinese may throw you off a tad, but how many multilingual rappers do you know? Bringing his skills to the mike in the US and abroad he found more than just a satisfaction of being a dope rapper. Representing 2 cultures he literally carries the culture of Hip Hop across oceans. His latest album is in Chinese entirely. In case you need a NY proof, he had defeated another New York battle marvel, Serius Jones. Nowadays Jin has grown. As every creditable battle rapper he’s moved his game more toward making studio albums. Hey, now it’s not only the die-hards that can enjoy his flow. His spreading it to all.

Guests who came to join in included everyone from O.C. (D.I.T.C.) to DJ Chela to Raye to Supreme.

Pharoahe Monch, Joell Ortiz and Jin gave their interviews to WNT and shared their views on Hip Hop, plans for the future and overall progress.

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