If you were to ask the average fan to list off their favorite rap duos of all time, chances are it would be a while before the names Pharoahe Monch and Prince Poetry (aka Prince Po) would come up. But to those in the know, the two rappers that make up Organized Konfusion are formidable emcees on the microphone.
While their self-titled debut LP flew under the radar, the group's second offering, 'Stress: The Extinction Agenda,' would prove to be their defining album. In 1994, the resurgence in quality East Coast rap grew and Organized Konfusion more than stood out. OK delivered one of the most cohesive and acclaimed projects of that year.
The collection has more than stood the test of time and is regarded as an undisputed classic. Today (Aug. 16), marks the 20th anniversary of the hip-hop masterpiece, which graced the Walkman's of hip-hop junkies worldwide back when it was released in 1994.
To commemorate the LP's 20th anniversary, the Boombox went through the arduous task of handpicking the album's five best tracks. Enjoy.
"Crush, build, destroy, stress!" With that simple, yet powerful phrase, Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po kick off 'Stress: Extinction Agenda.' On the Buckwild-produced song, Monch rhetorically asks, "Why do you choose to mimic these wack emcees? / Why do you choose to listen to R&B? / Why must you believe that something is fact just because it's played on radio 20 times a day?" Addressing such social topics like racial profiling immediately lets you know that Organized Konfusion aren't concerned with radio spins, just hardcore, no-frills hip-hop. Also, the mid-song interlude with the crew attempting to catch a cab as a black man in Manhattan is very true-to-life and gives the song an added dimension that takes it over the top.
Monch goes for dolo on the solo cut, 'Thirteen.' Toying with the Buckwild-produced track, he turns the beat into his own lyrical gymnasium, dropping his patented brand of monkey bars and running roughshod all over the track. "La-Di-Da, I flip it La-Di, live at a mardi gras, not even at a party / Give me bacardi...I smoke blunts / Stunts, I wanna humps / Chumps, I wanna pump em' full of [lead]," he raps. Along with an ill sample of ESG's 'UFO,' the song may cause you to catch Carpal tunnel syndrome from repeatedly hitting the rewind button.
Monch and Po detail their respective sour encounters with scandalous women on the rap ballad 'Why.' Monch gets his heart broken by his two-timing shorty, while Po goes through the motions of casual dating. From the shady voice-mails to gold-digging hoochies, the duo wax poetic about something most every guy can relate to: being toyed with by a female. Producer Buckwild comes through again working his magic with an infectious sample of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express' 'Light My Fire,' which anchors the song.
Monch and Po bring in fellow Queens rapper O.C. and Q-Tip for a little added reinforcement on the indelible free-for-all, 'Let's Organize.' Powered by a sample of Patrice Rushen's 'Kickin' Back,' each artist comes through with a superb verse, bouncing off of each others flows without missing a beat.
A few years before Nas recorded his acclaimed 'I Gave You Power,' Monch and Po had already executed the concept of personifying a traveling bullet on the chilling track 'Stray Bullet.' Produced by Po, himself, the track see's everyone from innocent children to house party patrons affected from the collateral damage. Weaving intricate tales of the bullet's journey, this classic song has become, arguably, their signature tune on the album. Monch would continue with the concept turning it into a trilogy with 'When The Guns Draw' and 'Damage,' respectively.