5 Best Songs From Organized Konfusion’s Self-Titled Debut
Queens, New York is hallowed ground when it comes to hip-hop, with legendary acts like Run D.M.C., LL Cool J, Nas, Mobb Deep, and 50 Cent all helping stamp the borough as one of the premier breeding grounds for rap artists. Those names may be the first that come to mind when the casual rap fan waxes poetic about Queens and its illustrious history, but one of the unsung acts from Queens that true hip-hop junkies would be remiss to overlook is Organized Konfusion. Comprised of rappers Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch, the duo would get their first break after the late producer Paul C helped them record a demo, leading to a short-lived record deal with Solid Sound Records. Their debut single, "Memories of Love," would fail to gain traction or radio airplay, and after the death of Paul C, and after their deal with Def Jam Records fell through, Organized Konfusion would sign with Hollywood BASIC, where they would release their self-titled debut album in 1991.
Released in late October of that year, Organized Konfusion would be a commercial disappointment, failing to crack the Billboard 200. Although the singles "Fudge Pudge" and "Walk Into The Sun" would garner the duo some buzz, with the latter peaking at No. 15 on the Hot Rap Singles chart, Organized Konfusion would be widely acclaimed by critics, who praised the album for its inventive production, Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch's refined lyricism, and political commentary. Organized Konfusion would see their biggest success with future releases like 1994's Stress: The Extinction Agenda, and their 1997 offering The Equinox, which would be their last album as a unit before the two decided to pursue solo careers, but their self-titled debut remains an essential underground masterpiece.
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, we selected five songs from the album that exemplifies its greatness.
"I stand here before the forces of evil with a style/The poetically God-gifted child/Bringin' forth the story of a lyrical soldier/Blessed to manifest in the eyes of the beholder, raps Pharoahe Monch on "Prisoners of War," a super-lyrical selection on Organized Konfusion's debut. Comparing their rhyme skills to automatic weapons, the war that Organized Konfusion is preparing for is one that sees them fighting for the crowd's attention when rocking the mic. "Prisoners of War," which is one of the more up-tempo salvos on the album, is sure to win over rap fans today as it did 25 years ago.
One of the more light-hearted tracks on Organized Konfusion, "Audience Pleasers" sees Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch dedicating a jam to moving the crowd. Featuring a sample of "Lowdown Popcorn" by James Brown, "Audience Pleasers" wins with its twangy guitar riff and tumbling drums, which the pair of Queens reps native with ease. On an album full of abstract conceptual cuts, "Audience Pleasers" is easily digestible and an example of Organized Konfusion's dedication to showmanship
Organized Konfusion takes listeners on a journey throughout Southside Jamaica, Queens on "The Rough Side of Town, a cautionary tale that details the various dangers of their neighborhood. Featuring samples of "North Carolina" by Les McCann, and
"Black Frost" by Grover Washington, Jr., the track is a sonic collage of bells, snares, and distortion. The duo's answer to Boogie Down Productions' "South Bronx," "The Rough Side of Town" is a gritty number that stands as one of the highlights on their debut.
"We gotta get away, we gotta do it now, we gotta walk into the sun," urges Organized Konfusion on "Walk Into The Sun," one of the standout selections from their self-titled album. The self-produced cut uses multiple samples, including "Action" by Orange Krush, "Runnin'" by Earth, Wind & Fire, and "Green Earrings" by Steely Dan, all of which the pair utilize to concoct a frantic cut that's as layered as their lyrics are dexterous.
One of the more popular selections from Organized Konfusion's debut is "Fudge Pudge," which sees them delving into their grab-bag of samples and hooking up a jam that mixes the jazzy with the frenetic. Introducing O.C., who would later release his own classic album, Word..Life, "Fudge Pudge" made an indelible impression on rap fans, not to mention its accompanying music video, which helped raise the group's profile beyond the five boroughs.