Welcome home to the man who passed more essays than motorcade police parades through East LA. Pharoahe’s last album did the impossible (make me ambivalent about one of my all-time favorites), but this is a blistering return to his hyper-technical but melodic conspiracy rap. There is a bit of singing, but he seems to have overcome his Gnarls Barkley rock-rap aspirations. What I like most about “Damage” is that it incorporates the guitar hero limp of the last few records, but fuses them with the boom-bapped, stressed and hammer-wielding Monch.
Maybe it’s me, but I do not want to hear Pharoahe on some spiritual blessed Dalai Lama tip. I want to hear him tell me that he is a murderer who shot the mayor and is looking for the Masons. This is that. You do not want him ringing your bell.