Will Hagle pities the fool that acts shitty in the midst of the calm, the witty

War, by nature, is divisive. Trauma is universal. If you didn’t agree with or just didn’t care to hear Pharoahe Monch’s political thoughts on W.A.R., the album could be easily alienating. P.T.S.D. is similar to his last album in that it’s politically timely — as veterans return home from two wars and random mass shootings seem to keep occurring — but it differs in that it’s much more grounded in relatable emotion on an individual level.

W.A.R. was a personal album — Pharoahe Monch often spoke in his own voice, but it almost felt more detached because of the large political issues he discussed. On P.T.S.D. he does the opposite: he speaks as a character, but that voice serves as a proxy for ubiquitous emotional issues.

Pharoahe Monch has long been a dramatist, crafting stories from perspectives aside from his own and delivering them in impeccable rhyme form. The narrator of various P.T.S.D. songs may or may not be one character, but Monch takes on specific themes with each track. “Broken Again,” for instance, is told from the perspective of a heroin addict who is struggling to kiss the sky without enhancing.

Monch is also a good actor, as the pain of the song’s words are further brought to life by the way he recites them. Desiree Godsell’s in-front-of-an-enormous-window body contortions are also a nice addition. In the hands of any other writer or director besides Aaronisnotcool, “Broken Again” could have been interpreted as something like a scene from Rent.

On W.A.R., Pharoahe Monch lobbed accusations against government and music industry bureaucracy. In the “Broken Again” video, the red tape is wrapped around himself. Whether that was the intended message of the clip or not, it’s a simple way to explain that Pharoahe Monch’s new video has great imagery and his new album is good and in my opinion much better and more relatable than his last one while still remaining politically and emotionally important.

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