*This piece initially ran on February 18th:
Brooklyn is a hip-hop, Mecca. Home to the likes of Notorious B.I.G, the borough has birthed some of the most thorough emcees of our time. This week I’m going to focus on one insanely underrated BK bred emcee, Pumpkinhead. Now known professionally – on the battle circuit – as PH, Pumpkinhead, who got his first break on the Stretch & Bobbito Show, first made noise in 1997 with the single Dynamic. The joint received major mixtape burn thanks to it’s Beat Junkies remix, which featured a host of artists including a young Oh No (now known to the world as Jean Grae).
Pumpkin released two solo (indie) projects but failed to achieve any mainstream success until his critically acclaimed Orange Moon Over Brooklyn (OMOB), which dropped in 2005 on Soulspazm/Rawkus. The project, which was produced entirely by Marco Polo, was a breath of fresh air, and allowed PH to showcase his skills on a whole other level.
“I don’t really care whether you order it, purchase it at the local record store, or download it directly to your iPod like I did. All I can say is this – Pumpkinhead’s “Orange Moon Over Brooklyn” is worth getting by any means necessary.”
– Steve Juon, Rap Reviews (circa 2006)
It’s bigger than records, though. PH is noted among the elite in the field of Battle Rap. He won Braggin’ Rites in both 1998 and 1999 and made the semis of the Blaze Battles in those same years. With a handful of more classic wins in the turn of the century, PH quickly became one of the biggest names in the New York underground – and eventually became president of the Grind Time New York Division. After a hiatus to tour, PH finally returned to the ring with a classic win over Dizaster, who most notably slaughtered Canibus and faced Philly-rapper Cassidy.
Since OMOB, PH has started his label, released numerous mixtapes, appeared on multiple compilations, released a group album with his Brooklyn Academy crew and continued to actively battle.
If you slept on PH, it’s no problem – because the magic of the Internet can allow you to explore his catalogue. He’s an amazing lyricist. If you will, he’s a rapper’s rapper. I’ve taken the liberty of compiling some of our fave PH joints below. Give him a spin.
In EXTREMELY disheartening news, Pumpkinhead died early Tuesday morning at the age of 39. I learned of his passing on Facebook. He was extremely well respected in the underground world, and in my brief interactions with him after I initially wrote this piece, he was a great guy – very humble. Condolences to his family. He lives on through his music.