This album was released on January 22nd this year. th1rt3en is a group comprised of legendary MC Pharoahe Monch along with guitarist Marcus Machado & percussionist Daru Jones. It was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021, and pretty much the first big release of the year that I was looking forward to. I first became familiar with th1rt3en when they released a promotional single entitled Palindrome toward the end of 2019. I was really impressed by that track, and I was wondering when we’d hear more from the group, so I was excited when this album was announced. I also just think the title and cover art are really cool. I think Pharoahe Monch is one of the best rappers ever, so I had high expectations for this project.
There aren’t any tracks that I dislike, so I’ll write about every song in the proper order of the tracklist. The album kicks off with Cult 45.
I love the dark production here from Nottz; the horns kinda remind me of the Underworld Theme music from Kingdom Hearts 2. Pharoahe Monch’s writing here is God-tier as always.
Season discrimination, sprinkle a little sage
Add a dash of hatred, eat it and get on stage
Chase it down with some poverty, add a splash of the murder rate
Regurgitate it and spit out rage
Sit in a circle of thirteen candles and smoke haze
Thinking we should miss Christ, Christmas'll make you a slave
Lactose intolerant at birth, never fazed
By the race for chasing American cheese in a maze
In fourth grade, I played scrabble
Scrambled the letters in the name Santa
Magnified and deciphered the Clauses in the game
The way he kinda broke down how Trump amassed his cult-like following was really cool, and the way the instrumentation crescendos after the verse is really awesome too. All three members of the group put their ass into this track; I don’t know who had the most impressive performance. Just based off this song, I was excited for how dark this album was about to be. It’s followed by a major highlight entitled Triskaidekaphobia. The opening lines in which Pharoahe Monch raps about throwing someone off a roof and telling their spouse that they had to bounce was crazy.
A magpie told me about the stash and your high cash amount
So I broke into your house and tossed your spouse off the roof
When you called her cell to ask her where she was at
I picked up the phone and told you she had to bounce
Once again, I love how dark the instrumentation here is. I’ve mentioned this phenomenon before when talking about Scuare & Pro Zay’s latest albums, but I love when the music sounds like the album cover. This is another example of that. I love how threatening and evil Monch sounds here.
When I spit spit in your face when I'm spittin' rhymes
It lets me know I'm makin' you have an uncomfortable time
Just from the tendencies I learned when I probed
The knowledge that mentally, you're a finicky germaphobe
And eventually, you will grit your teeth and try to strike
But right before you do, I'll hand you a picture of your wife
She's alive in the photo
See, after Organized you believed that I went solo
I just happen to let Pharoahe Monch speak on my behalf
Right now he's at your house as your wife is takin' a bath
Few rappers can spit as eloquently as Pharoahe Monch in my opinion. I like this track even more than the opening song. He killed this shit, and he even sounds great singing the hook. The weird vocal filter at the beginning of the second verse sounds fucking awesome. The verse itself is amazing too.
The times I almost lost the signs in my vitals
I'm Christ's last supper when you include the disciples
Used to cycle on a tricycle with a sickle, I'm psycho
A sicko, do this ritual specifically for my rivals
Thirteen different levels of metaphysical rebels
For instance, years ago settled differences with the Devil
He tried to cancel me out for several samples I embezzled
Almost had me off myself in the head with some heavy metal
I have zero complaints; I think the song is dope af. It’s followed immediately by yet another highlight entitled The Magician. This song is a lot louder and more bombastic than the preceding couple of tracks, which were dark, yet kind of minimalistic sonically. This track has a very prominent electric guitar contribution, which actually sounds pretty gnarly. I think that’s the first time I’ve unironically used the term “gnarly.” It doesn’t feel right. Anyway, if you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you know that I used to hate electric guitars, and I still don’t like them as much as a lot of people do, but I’ve kind of gained an appreciation for them. I think it sounds awesome here. Pharoahe Monch fucking spazzed out on the first verse too. It sounds like he was going head to head with the electric guitar here.
Picture the past of this passive-ass sadomasochist
Masterin' ass-kissin', harassed and chastised by bastards
Wolves done laughed at him, they plastered his ass
Against the school lockers, then they casted him away
He was never as fast as them, and he never played soccer
He never mastered gymnastics classes
So they teased him, they mocked him, the fuckin' bastard, they whipped his ass
Any reason they robbеd him behind the school when hе was late for a day
I even love the hook on this track. Pharoahe Monch’s flow on the second verse is fucking insane too. As soon as this track ended, I asked myself “oh shit… Is this about to be my album of the year?” The song blew me away. I think it’s dope af. Track 4 is entitled 666 (Three Six Word Stories). I believe this single was released alongside the announcement of this album. The beat is an instrumental recreation of Black Sabbath’s Hand of Doom, which is pretty cool. It makes for a really dope beat. Ironically, it sounds less dark than any of the preceding material in my opinion. The lyricism is still very dark though.
Get 'em and then I'ma put 'em in the middle of a firing squad
Load and lock, pop, pop, pop
Watch me waterboard 'em, peel their nails back, torture them
Cigarettes on the eyelids scorching them
To the pupil to the iris to the retina
Viruses silencing them like they're silence us except I'm more violent
Fuck 'em, I mute their music when they're unplugged
Throwing up a middle finger to the future of these young thugs
I might be reaching, but to me that last line came off like a diss to Future & Young Thug. I really love the way this song is structured; it’s just one long ass verse, with three stories at the very end that each consist of 6 words.
In the bathroom scripted with love as he got nearer
Three six-word stories written with blood on the mirror
“I breathe like oxygen is expensive”
“Don't be offended, I am defensive”
“I love you, take care, intensive”
I think the song is dope as hell. The following track is called Goat’s Head. The sung hook on this track is pretty cool; it kinda reminds me of the song D.R.E.A.M. from his P.T.S.D. album. The first verse here is pretty nice, although it doesn’t blow me away like a lot of the others on this album. This track does feel like it’s lacking some of the urgency that’s present on other tracks; the groove is a little sluggish. It’s still a dope track though. The opening verse was dope, and the second one is even better. The “paradigm” & “Bill Withers” double entendres were tight.
Morph a singer into a duck, just before I hang 'em
I burn 'em at the stake, until its bill withers
Sleep with a pair of dimes that don't mind that they time split
Plus they promote me too, that's the paradigm shift
Juxtaposition is that opulence is limited
Women offering me top 'cause I'm popular with the penmanship
Got ice on my watch like an undocumented immigrant
So I doctored the dockets so that the document could benefit
This track definitely doesn’t stand out to me like the others, but I still think the beat is pretty good, and the rapping is great. It’s a dope track. The next song is called Scarecrow. It’s stuffed full of really dope Wizard of Oz references. He’s rapping about being on the road of yellow bricks, i.e. selling crack, and employing a white woman named Dorothy to move the weight for him.
I won't say shit in an interview
We are headed for the pinnacle
We only made a minuscule amount of money, she's my sweet little centerfold
Formidable foes on the road to the riches, you know that the code is so critical
And I got the key to the city, my niggas, you know that the city is emerald
The repetitive hook is nothing special to me honestly; the actual verses are what make the song worth returning to for me. I love how his flow kinda picked up for the second verse.
My sentiment is cynical
The benefit of status is really knowing what's identical
I put it in the pot and mix it with the chemicals
Inject it in the pen and then I show you what the pen'll do
I also love how the electric guitar gets heavier towards the end of the song. It sounds really good. I think this is another really dope track. It’s followed by the lead single for this album, Fight.
Cypress Hill is credited as a feature here, but it’s really just a B-Real feature. The production here sounds a bit more bombastic than most of the preceding material. This song sounds like it’d go crazy at live shows. It was undoubtedly inspired by all the protests against police murdering innocent black people. The hook is pretty cool, and the opening verse from Pharoahe Monch is great.
While we fight over who the true father of Christ is
We're suffering inside of an economical crisis
Children of the soul, the righteous
Turn into Black vampires, lost and lifeless
And you better protect your neck
And I'm not talking about Wu-Tang or ISIS
They'll pick you out the crowd on some Price Is Right shit
Burn a cross, water hose, dogs and nightsticks
Yeah, that's what it used to be, see, they would usually
Just hang a nigga, fuck 'em
Now they don't have the time to decorate the trees so they buck 'em
I kinda wish B-Real spit more than just 8 bars, but his appearance here was pretty nice.
This little piggy killed a minor
Same piggy got paid to stay home
This next pork chop removed his body cam
And he aimed his Glock at my dome
The second verse from Pharoahe Monch is definitely the highlight of the song in my opinion; he really stood out there. Overall, I think this is another really awesome track. It’s dope as hell to me. It’s followed by a major highlight entitled Racist. I really love the instrumental on this track. I think this song has some of the darkest production on the whole album. It’s also a bit more stripped back, yet more dynamic than most of the other beats. Pharoahe Monch went wild on this one too. He’s pretty much just rapping from the perspective of an evil bigot. I love how he delivers each line on this song too. He sounds genuinely evil here. This is what I imagine Satan would sound like if it was a rapper. There are a handful of racist and homophobic slurs in this track, but I don’t even mind at all since it goes along with the theme of the song. There aren’t many rappers who can pull off a track like this, but Pharoahe Monch nailed it in my opinion. This track is dope af. The following track is entitled Oxygen. This is one of the weaker songs on the album to me, but I still like it quite a bit. It’s just that Pharoahe Monch is singing throughout most of the song, and it lacks a sense of urgency, which I would have liked. The one verse on this song is really dope though.
My oxygen, operative or an opulent indigenous occupant
Angelic in your moccasins with the kinetic acumen to rid me of my toxins
You could dictate a doctrine on a cathartic spit
Fix your open-heart surgery for the brokenhearted
My high vibrational guidance system, hold
Namu myōhō renge kyō
Some of the lines cut pretty deep for me and remind me of my past, which in turn makes me pretty sad. I don’t really mind though; if anything that just makes me like the song more. The singing on the chorus isn’t really bad at all, but it doesn’t stand out much to me. It’s just sufficient. With that said, I think the lyrics are awesome.
I need you in my life like oxygen
Holy water come and wash away the sins
I want you
I need you
The song is dope. Track 10 is called Kill ‘Em All Again. The production here from Lee Stone feels more melodic than a lot of the other beats to me. The hook here is super simplistic, but the instrumentation is so good that I don’t even mind; I think it sounds great. In the second verse, it sounds like Monch was pretty much just shitting on Instagram and people’s obsession with it, which, as someone who hates IG—mostly because don’t nobody be interactin’ with my posts—I appreciate.
In a ceremonial cell like it's the 'gram, it's your scripture
The reason why you fail to see the bigger picture
Inauthentic addicted to Intеrnet affirmation
Quintessential assholеs mentally masturbating
Fascinated with fads, so captivated by cash flow
Although eventually we will all be acclimated
Blind lust for the acceptance from the masses do flop
To a pit of view from worm's-eye, who's on top?
The third verse is easily the best part of the song to me. It’s probably because it’s the longest verse on the whole track. Overall, this isn’t really a highlight for me, but I still think it’s a really dope track; I fuck with it. I love how dark the production from SupaUgly is on The Exorcist. The beat makes me think of Ozzy Osbourne for whatever reason. The opening verse from Pharoahe Monch is fire.
It's obvious I'm godly squeezin' off powerful semens
Scheming on the ivory tower when they're cowardly heathens
While I sit on the throne, may the skelеtons vomit in credence
Thе purses will curse you for treason
I'm easily the freest deity, it's often misleading
Of a diseased generation that participates in their grievance
I’m not really crazy about the weird vocals on the hook. They actually do kinda sound like Ozzy Osbourne. The second verse is even better than the first one in my opinion.
Where I sleep is like a total disaster
Where multiple rappers in a room on a wall postered in plastic
With their eyeballs removed from their images, "Fuck you" is the caption
From my genesis ever witnessed of limitless caskets
High percentages of vintage images crafted
Is it not yet definitive I'm a sinister bastard?
Again, this track probably has one of my least favorite hooks on the whole project, but the rapping is too good for me to not love this track. I think it’s dope as hell. The penultimate song is called Amnesia, and it’s another major highlight for me. It has a surprisingly smooth, melodic, lush instrumental. It’s a far cry from any of the other beats on the project. It sounds more like an R&B instrumental than a Rock instrumental. I love the lyricism from Monch here too. He’s rapping from the perspective of someone with amnesia, and it’s pretty heart-wrenching stuff.
I woke up to a blindin' light in my face and asked "Where am I?"
An attractive nurse replied "ICU"
I retracted my first response and contemplated my retort
Then thought to myself “okay, I see you too"
Philosophical sergeant, war monkey, Caesar
I was seized and suffered head trauma, now I suffer from seizures
Wrote “fuck you” in the palm of my hand as a contingency plan
Just to remember how to greet you, amnesia
The singing on the hook isn’t particularly great, but the passion is there, so I still felt it. This track really reminds me of something that could’ve been on PTSD. Pharoahe Monch is really good at writing about mental illness; I’d love to hear him rap about psychosis.
It's becomin' virtually impossible to cope
When I gargle with the lotion and brush my teeth with the soap
Scope, how I left my cell in the refrigerator
My brain used to contain about a thousand gigs of data
Now I'm watchin' new Al Pacino flicks screaming "Attica, Attica!”
Vexed on the floor doing stretches for my sciatica
Wide awake staring at Late Night
Watching The Roots perform like “wait, that's not Alex Haley in Africa”
This is easily the most emotional song on the album, and I love it. I think it’s dope af, even though it sticks out like a sore thumb sonically. The closing track is entitled Kill Kill Kill. I absolutely love the fast paced production here. It sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack to a Pokémon game. I kinda wish the verses from Pharoahe Monch were a bit longer, but they certainly aren’t bad at all, and I love the hook here. The instrumental switches up about halfway through the song and gets super dreamy and lush. At this point, Smithsoneon comes in to sing a super emotional outro. The tone of the song completely switches up for this outro, which is interesting. Overall, I think the song is dope as hell. It had the potential to be my favorite track on the album, but the production ended up being my favorite aspect of it.
This album is pretty amazing to me honestly. There’s not a single track here that I don’t think is dope. Pharoahe Monch is just as skilled of a rapper as he’s always been in my opinion. I of course appreciate the dark soundscape, and the political content is much appreciated. I really don’t have any consistent gripes with this project. Usually when rappers try to go for a Rap Rock fusion, it ends up being corny as hell, but I think Pharoahe Monch knocked this outta the park. It was just nice to get a project from him after almost 7 years. He takes his sweet time with every project, but considering how great the finished product always is, I can’t even complain. I think this shit is dope af, and it easily met my expectations. It’s just as fantastic as I was hoping it’d be. Don’t sleep on this shit.
Favorite Song: Racist
Least Favorite Song: Oxygen
Watch the video below for more thoughts on this album.