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War Games With Pharoahe Monch

XXL: Continuing with the theme, what do you think about the ongoing war in Libya?

Pharoahe: I know where I stand on a very wide scope of world politics in general. I’m not split down the middle. It’s based on resources and the resource at hand is oil. On the other hand, [Moammar] Gadhafi is a tyrant, killing and harming civilians. Other countries are saying, ‘This is the position we’re taking on it.’ The U.S. has been silent and then they move in with missile strikes. The question that comes to mind is there are so many different tyrants in the world that are mistreating their civilians, so why not intervene in those situations? Why are we intervening in a situation where there’s oil at stake? We know that we’ve had different relations with Gadhafi, but now it’s gotten out of hand, so he needs to go. He needs to go, but you wonder about the U.S. involvement from a political standpoint.

XXL: A lot of hip-hop heads were influenced by the Art of War by Sun Tzu. What’s your take on the book?

Pharoahe: I never read it, but just from my comrades and peers talking about it, I’ve always been interested in reading it. A lot of what people bounced off of me from it, I kind of felt like it’s instinctive. I think that’s why street dudes excel in hip-hop because a lot of those philosophies apply. I was talking to Freddie Foxxx once and we were talking about street fights. He was like, ‘I talk shit, but when I fight my objective is to not get hit. If you get out of a fight without getting hit, you can consider that a win.’ Here’s a philosophy from a dude who’s known to break your jaw and yet his philosophy is to not get hit. That’s hood shit to me. Possibly because of the consciousness and people don’t see it, but I’m from Southside. I grew up in the height of the jumping era – 15 motherfuckers chasing you, you got to outrun them [laughs].

XXL: A lot has been made about the world ending in 2012. Numerous natural disasters and wars in the last few years alone add fuel to that fire. So when you hear the term War of The Worlds, what comes to mind?

Pharoahe: I think (talk about the world ending) is pretty on point. I think the songs and the verses . . . the Quran, the Torah and the Bible, there’s parables. When you talk about the end of the world – is it literal? What I think is you’re seeing these rebellions, these revolts because of people crying out that there needs to be some type of evenness here. Resources are limited. This is something you could see years and years ago. Basically you got 5% of an entire world of people having the wealth of the rest of the world. But it gets to the point where the conditions . . . you don’t have a choice, you got to eat. Most people want to feed their kids, educate their children, eat some food and not suffer.

XXL: If there’s one thing that people take from the W.A.R. album, what would you want that be?

Pharoahe: I think there’s a couple different individuals. There’s one individual that’s is on the frequency that’s going to hear honesty, passion in the words, vibration and the way things resonate beyond what I’m saying lyrically. Just the feel of this song like, ‘Damn, this means this to me. Even though this song is called Shine and it’s my workout joint, yo this is this.’ Then there’s the cat that’s going to say, ‘This is really dope’ but it’s not going to cut that deep. Then there’s the people that are going to say, ‘Man, I don’t know why people are bugging out over this shit.’ It’s been like that since I started. You know the percentage, so you play to that audience. Everybody who was on it, thank you. If you can’t support in the movement by buying a CD, just tell a friend.

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