Pharoahe Monch Speaking on Process

Hip-Hop and Rap, Thoughts on Living

I love listening to other artists talk about how they go about creating art. In this case, we get to hear how one of the illest MCs in hip-hop, Pharoahe Monch, goes about finding inspiration for his lyrically masterful compositions.

My favorite little detail is the fact that Monch draws a sketch before getting started, and then uses the alphabet to help him find his rhymes.

As a writer and artist, my mind is just like…blown. So simple, so effective. Word.

Fact is, everyone has their own approach to writing and creating. I have a friend whose process involves crafting poetry from lines she’s saved over a course of months. She takes these bits of poetry and constructs a new stanza, allowing it to sit again for some time, and then revisiting that piece with an editor’s eye. I can’t work like that.

My process involves creating a fragment, a line, simple combination of words or strokes (in the case of drawing), and move on to what the page seems to pull out from me. It’s a subconscious thing. I create what in my eye demands to be on the page. Occasionally it’s not what I planned it to be. If I approach my writing with a preconceived notion of what I’m hoping to accomplish, the end result may be a permutation of it, but it will rarely be the original outcome I sought to express.

I’m getting better at planning and executing my ideas. It’s all in the practice. But to see how other artists, musicians, rappers, etc. go about creating is inspiring, and if anything, helps me feel like I need to elevate my game.

Step it up, yo. I gotta step it up.



Love Poetry, Poetry

No one ever said it would be easy living with You, but it was much more difficult to die.
No one ever said it would be easy to die, but it was much more difficult living with You.

No one ever said it was difficult living, but it was easier dying with You.
No one ever said it was difficult dying, but it was easier living with You.

No one ever said I would live, but I did, and it was easiest with You.
No one ever said I would die, but I did, and at that time I knew.

No one ever said a difficult thing, until You.
No one thing ever said difficult, until You.

No one ever said difficult You.
You never said difficult too.

You never said.
Never said You.

You, never.
Never, You.

Q & A

Poetry, Unorthodox Poetry

L: Nah seriously, I’s wrapped in toilet paper.

L: Nah, I ‘on’t ‘mem’er how.

L: I think it all started when I’s thirteen. I wanneda be gangsta like them kids who wore them ugly stripe shirts from tha indoor swap meets.

L: Yeah. Yeah, those ones that had fuzzy fabric on tha thick black stripes. Yeah, I thought I’s cool. But hey, at least I didn’ wear them nasty neon fanny-packs from tha eighties, a’ight. Hahahahaha.

L: I would say I started dressin’ like that back in tha mid-nineties. It must’a been actually more like, ‘99? ‘98? I ‘on’t know, I ‘on’t really ‘mem’er.

L: Do you ‘mem’er them ol’ Rollin’ Hard t-shirts? Yeah, those with the half-neck’ed girls ‘n lowriders? Yeah. I started rockin’ that shit ‘round ’96, ’97. I’s really one of the vatos then. That’s when I started burning El Pachuco on trash cans ‘n shit. I’s small time then. Mostly hitting my sketchbook. I thought I’s the shit, then. Had no regard for myself in those days.

L: Huh, wha’? Waddaya mean?

L: Oh, well, to put it straight, I ain’t give a damn about anythin’, man. I’s psycho. I wanneda take myself out this world, and travel to the next dimension, man. Yaknaw-I’m-sayin’? I’m talkin’ suicide. I ain’t actually try anythin’ then. I ain’t do that ‘til I hit 20. 21.

I cut myself one day at work wit’ ma pocketknife. I’s working at Sears at the time, ‘n I said fuck it. There’s nobody in the Lawn ‘n Garden Department or Fitness Department, so I said fuck it. I heated ma knife wit’ a lighter I bought and said fuck it. I ran that shit hot across ma forearm ‘n cut myself as deep as I could.

I figure by cuttin’ ‘n burnin’ myself at the same time I’d avoid having blood dripping all over. See, it was premeditated ‘n shit.

L: Yeah, I’s confused then. I wanneda die ‘n see how many people’d really care. I fine’ly came to tha conclusion that tha only people that it’d matter ta were ma brother ‘n sister. I fine’ly fo’gave my dad for leaving ‘round that age too. I learned he love me too. ‘N then there’s ma grandma. I couldn’ break her heart either. I ‘on’t know what I’d do without her in my life. I wouldn’ be tha man I am today.

L: I ‘on’t really wanna talk about it no more. I tol’ you. I’s given a fair chance like e’erybody else. At leas’ tha’s what I tell myself. I made it this far ‘cuz it was ma destiny to. Tha’s all I’m sayin’. God wanned me to do this.

L: Aight then, tha’s cool. Hit me up when the next show comes ‘round. I might see you. I might not. Ha.

Hey, man, I can’t guarantee shit. I come ‘n go like the wind, my frien’. I ‘on’t stand still for no one. Just don’t tell ma girl that. Hahahahahaha.

L: Peace.

Dogma de Fe

Love Poetry, Poetry

Dios, nunca pensé
que me
fueras dar
vida, cariño, amor, merced. Nunca
lo sentí. Y

ahora entiendo que
es mi misión
servirte. Es mi
entendimiento que soy
un arma de fuego por ti.
Un AK-47 tirando
balas y quemaduras
por ti. Descargaré

en tu nombre,
Señor, sobre las ruedas
del mundo monocromático y
lo bañaré de colores del cielo en alba,
lo esculcaré y pintaré
mi nombre igual como el tuyo
y juntos amaremos a nuestros semejantes
como amamos hoy
los perros,
fieles a sus maestros. Soy

tu bendición y
eres el mío.

Ella lo es también.

Ella pronuncia tu nombre,
y me enseñó hablar
tu idioma,
idioma de dogma,
idioma de fe,
idioma de pálpitos
del corazón, hipo
de bebé, y repeticiones
de carros nauseabundos.
Lo bueno de la vida

es ella, y tu
y yo
lo sabemos.
Lo sabemos como
sabemos cuales muertos
ruegan por nosotros,
ruegan por sus madres,
ruegan por vidrios empañados con
carteles de cloroformo. Dios

santo y sagrado, me dijiste
en un sueño que eres
el poeta, y
te lo creí. Ahora

dime, ¿cuáles son
tus favoritas palabras?

Dirty Licks and Love Notes

Love Poetry, Poetry

And while the seasons
extend into
each other we extend
into another, forming
bridges of sweat, arms and
legs, lip smacking and
sucking kaleidoscope into
your skin and mine tainting
sections of purity with my defects
and your insecurities, purging
each others sciences as foreign
waste matter, solid blues and golds.

Your eyes clear pain
in my presence. You’re salty
mi amor. You’re salty
and fine and soft. Hips
curving and embracing
my mind as thighs of strength
wrap around my brain squeezing
candid thoughts, dirty
licks and love notes in
poetry from my godless mouth.

I worship you and pray to my saints
thanking them
for the opportunity of our courtship.