Pharoahe Monch Internal Affairs

To a small yet dedicated following, Pharoahe Monch represents one half of Organized Konfusion, an ahead-of-their-time outfit who authored the conceptual masterpiece Stress: The Extinction Agenda. To those newly acquainted with the MC, he is the Godzilla sampling rapid-fire wordsmith behind the shrewd club hit “Simon Says.” Bridging the apparent gap between these two factions would appear to be daunting, but Pharoahe handles the situation with aplomb. His complexity, intelligence and taste for countless flows are his trademark; what Internal Affairs brings convincingly to the forefront are the different sides of his personality. An awkward shyness and sensitivity emerges on the pining of “The Light,” while on “The Truth” he’s joined by Common and Talib Kweli in dense meditation. These tracks, along with the cautionary parable “Queens,” are gorgeously framed by underrated veteran producer Diamond D, but their jazz-tinged intonations only represent part of Internal Affairs’ scope. Unlikely collaborations with the raucous M.O.P. and firebrand Canibus work surprisingly well, as does the obligatory remix of “Simon Says,” featuring a cadre of Def Jam stars. But Pharoahe also wanders into areas that will surprise his most ardent fans, ranging from the innocuous sport-themed “Official,” to the ill-advised metaphoric excursion “Rape.” So, while Pharoahe satiates the needs of his diverse audience, he does not cave into those who have foisted critical acclaim upon him or who have just tuned in, ensuring a personal triumph. (Rawkus)