Pharoahe Monch Thinks Eminem Raised The Bar Again On “Rap God”

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Pharoahe Monch found out about Eminem’s breathtaking final verse on “Rap God” the way many of us did: He saw it on Twitter. Unlike many of us, the innovative New York rapper wasn’t just idly staring at his phone waiting for the track to drop; instead, his social media mentions were filled with people alerting the former Organized Konfusion member that he was shouted out in the track’s dizzying, reference-filled lyrics. “I know there was a time where once I was king of the underground,” raps Eminem. “But I still rap like I’m on my Pharoahe Monch grind.”

Where was Monch himself when Eminem paid tribute to his underground legacy? He was on his Pharoahe Monch grind as usual, but when he heard the track itself he was immediately impressed. “I knew he was going for incredible lyricism like always,” Monch said to XXL during a recent phone interview. “But it’s just really about the skills. He took it to another level on that song. The length of the song is bananas. How he shouted me out was just bananas. I thought the song was dope. He really raised the bar yet again.”

Though Monch has yet to fully dive into The Marshall Mathers LP 2—he’s hard at work on P.T.S.D., his follow-up to 2011′s W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) album—he wasn’t hesitant to say that he’s a huge Eminem fan and that he often listens to his albums to draw inspiration. Before Eminem’s pop success, the two were peers in rap’s ’90s underground, as Eminem points out on the MMLP2 bonus cut “Don’t Front” when he raps, “Almost forget, before I signed with the Doc/I almost signed with Duck Down/’Cause Rawkus didn’t make no offers and motherfuck Loud, they jerked me around/So wassup now.”

Monch has released albums on both Rawkus and Duck Down, and he remembers first hearing about Eminem back in the day from fellow New York rapper Mr. Complex. “He was listening to way more underground artists than I was at the time and he was telling me about Em,” said Monch. “He played me a song with Em about having a body in a trunk, back when it was in the demo stages… Content-wise and skill-wise it just blew me away cause it was so different.”

Even now, years later, Monch is still impressed by the Detroit rapper, and he’s honored that he thought to salute his grind on a new track. “I just wanna shout-out Em for shouting me out and showing me love,” he said. “I’m sure there are a 100 other people he could’ve chose to shout out there and that’s real big. So I just wanna show him love and say I’m a huge fan.”