Pharoahe Monch's last album was released back in 1999, when Rawkus was the epicenter of underground hip-hop, and Monch was one of its star attractions. A famously complex lyrical virtuoso, Monch had a monster hit by sampling the Godzilla theme for "Simon Says," then took a monster hit when he was sued by the Godzilla people (or perhaps by the notoriously litigious giant lizard himself) for unauthorized sampling. Monch's stock has only risen in the interim. On his smashing new comeback album, Desire, Monch comes off like an emissary from hip-hop's golden age, eager to make up for lost time.
Here, Monch raps from the perspective of a bullet ("When The Gun Draws"), covers Public Enemy ("Welcome To The Terrordome"), and ends with a three-part, nine-minute-plus story-song ("Trilogy"). But Desire is fun and loose as well as cerebral and edifying. It's a feast for the mind, body, and soul. Where most rappers take 75 minutes to say nothing, Monch makes a lean 47 minutes seem epic in the best way. Hopefully the follow-up won't take another eight years.