Twenty Years Since Record ‘Simon Says’ Was Released

Today marks nearly twenty years since hip-hop artist, Troy Donald Jamerson, better known by his stage name Pharoahe Monch, released his solo album, “Internal Affairs”. The album was released Oct. 19, 1999 and peaked at No. 6 on Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album charts. ‘Simon Says’ was one of the most memorable records on the album and had a strong influence on hip-hop culture.

According to an interview on, Monch said originality is what stands out.

"As long as you are true to who you are, it will cut through," Pharoahe states. "I feel like if you don't express all the different facets of who you are, you're fronting regardless, because nobody is cerebral all the time."

Mike Hemberger, owner and chief engineer at The Stiz recording studio in Hackettstown, NJ called the album a “hidden influence”, which masked its success.  

“This album had more of an influence on some of the more well-known rappers in the game, which in turn influenced pop culture,” said Hemberger.

While ‘Simon Says’ was an album single, it featured a sample from Japanese composer Akira Ifukube’s ‘Gojira Tai Mosura’ record that was not cleared.  

“Newer hip-hop heads hear people of my time talk about Pharoahe, Black Star, Tribe, De La [Soul] and we talk about it with much more passion than they can even understand…they want know what it’s all about. Their [older artists] music came directly from the heart,” said Hemberger.

Andrew Mannheimer, sociology of hip-hop professor at Florida State University, said the album helped Monch reach success, however it was still “underrated” as a project.

“It solidified his place as one of hip-hop’s greatest emcees. The album is a remarkable display of lyricism and production. I feel like this is a golden-era type of album that was released after what many consider to be the golden era of hip-hop (the late 1980s and early 1990s),” said Mannheimer.

Compared to new music, Mannheimer shared that this album is like “home-cooked meal” unlike music today, which “sounds manufactured.”

“I think Monch influenced a lot of the great emcees that came after him. I think the fact that we are still talking about him in 2015 shows his profound influence,” said Mannheimer.