From 2002 to 2007, Murs was a top emcee in Hip-Hop. He put out a handful of superior albums: Felt (w/ Slug), The End of the Beginning, Murs 3:16 (w/ 9th Wonder), Felt 2 (w/ Slug), Murray’s Revenge (w/ 9th Wonder); and this doesn’t include the work he did with the Living Legends. You’ve been sleeping if you don’t think these albums were some of the nicest records released during that time period.
In July 2008, Murs & 9th Wonder released their last album, Sweet Lord. Since then, some fans felt that Murs hasn’t been the same. He put out Murs For President a few months later with Warner Bros, and was dropped from the label the next year. A few fans liked how he took on a list of new producers; others felt that he needed to get back to the basics. The same goes for Felt 3. Some fans liked how Slug & Murs went out of the box with Aesop Rock’s production; while others felt that they were doing too much experimenting.
9th Wonder has gone through a similar stage as Murs. He released some of his best work between ’02 and ’07: Little Brother albums (The Listening & The Minstrel Show), Murs albums (Murs 3:16 & Murray’s Revenge), Remix albums (God’s Stepson & Black Is Back!), and Jeanius with Jean Grae. Since Sweet Lord, 9th Wonder has been quiet on the production tip. He has done a few nice beats for Wale’s Back To The Feature mixtape, and Skyzoo’sSalvation debut. However, he hasn’t released any collaboration records (what he’s been known for). A Few people might think that he is losing his touch. I on the other hand think there are some disappointed fans that still can’t get over the fact that he left Little Brother (it is what it is).
Now it’s time for both 9th and Murs to prove their critics wrong. Will they take it back to the basics one last time (minus the Fruity Loops) and drop one of the year’s best?
1. Fornever Featuring Kurupt; Produced by Murs & 9th Wonder
Murs made sure to impress the West Coast veteran Kurupt on the opening track. He absolutely bodies the track with his first verse, “We mastered this, no rookie mistakes here, something like a mix between Tookie and Shakespeare. Classic competition man we killing compositions, catalog consistent, it’s compelling you to listen. True poetry, we do it how it’s supposed to be because right before I write it, I imagine you quoting me”. This verse is pure heat. Kurupt Young Gotti drops a few nice lines, but it isn’t anywhere close to Murs. 9th Wonder completes the song with a nice sample that keeps up with the vibe of the song.
“We do it for the love, what the fuck you making music for?”
2. The Lick Featuring Verbs; Produced by Murs & 9th Wonder
9th Wonder throws on a laid-back loop with a short soulful sample to start this song. Murs gets on first and drops a few nice lines, but nothing too memorable. Verbs get on next and shares a few verses with Murs. Then, he speaks on these girls they met from Santa Monica, “Two little groupies, acting hella rogue, all they do is listen to Kid Cudi and Lupe, hold up, I ain’t even tryin to clown, but what I’m tryin to say is they from the other side of town”. It’s a solid track; nothing too noteworthy, but you can still listen to it.
3. Asian Girl Featuring 9thmatic; Produced by Murs & 9th Wonder
When I first heard the chorus I was thinking this is another song similar to “Dark Skinned White Girls”. However, it’s just a song that shows 9th and Murs love towards Asian women. 9th Wonder (aka 9thmatic) drops his first sixteen bars as a rapper, “Catch me and Murs, Sunset, bending curves, we the best team you’ve seen since McHale and Bird.” 9th’s first verse laid down on wax isn’t that bad, but Murs still takes the track with his comical flow. The duo drops a nice Asian themed beat that goes well with the meaning of the song.
4. Let Me Talk Featuring Suga Free; Produced by Murs & 9th Wonder
Now this beat sounds like some vintage 9th Wonder production. Now I know some women might hate this song, but I love it. Murs goes into detail about how guys feel when they get into an argument with their girl, “I ain’t sleeping on the couch, my neck still hurting from the last time. We gotta talk now, c’mon, can’t it wait till halftime. It’s like your favorite past time, you yell and you scream, but nothing comes between a man and his favorite team. And look, don’t make me chose, because you just might lose, now take your ass in the other room – turn on the news. Wait wait (wait wait wait wait) I didn’t mean it like that, I’m just excited about the game, c’mon baby come back!” Suga Free drops some of his thoughts on the topic before the next track. This is that classic Murs and 9th Wonder that we all love.
5. Cigarettes & Liquor Produced by Murs & 9th Wonder
The track hits off with a classic Hip-Hop sample “Funky Worm” by Ohio Players. This song has been sampled numerous times from all sorts of rappers from N.W.A. to DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. Murs explains his (and everyone else’s) dependence on cigarettes and liquor. Murs drops some lines that might make you laugh at yourself because it’s true, “You fuckin up, get your shit together, you can’t keep doing this bullshit forever. Run into the bathroom every five minutes, every time that you throw up, you claiming that you’re finished. Then you swear you’re about quit, but as soon as Friday come – it’s time to get lit. Tequila shots, lemon drops, dancing on the table tops, you know when you’re really drunk – when you say you’re not”.
6. Vikki Veil Produced by Murs & 9th Wonder
Murs gets into this relationship he had with a pornstar. He first goes into detail about the girl, “No drug problems, no issues with her daddy, I hate to admit it, but this chick kinda had me”. Then, he touches on a few concerns about her being a pornstar, “I locked her down and I made her commit to me, told her that her job didn’t really mean shit to me. Fuck for the cameras, then come home and fuck me, she said the only difference was that she really loved me. With me it was love, with them it was work, but no matter how she put it man, that shit still hurts”. It ends with Murs breaking it off because she wouldn’t quit her job for him, “I sat her down and I said baby that’s it, if you really love me then you’re gonna have to quit. She said I’m the same girl I was when you met me, and if you can’t love me, you should just forget me. She broke my heart and now I’m making it public, never let you dick pick who you fall in love with”. This song showcases Murs storytelling abilities, and also features another perfect sample by 9th Wonder. This is a definite standout for me.
7. I Used To Love H.E.R. (Again)
Produced by Murs & 9th Wonder
I would hope that everyone knows that this is a cover to Common’s “I Used To Love H.E.R.”. Murs changes up a few lyrics to put his own style to it, “We met up on the West Coast and that was cool because I was in the street, smoking weed and ditching school. Picked up a bandana, she started doing things another way, she got a lot of money in L.A. Late 80’s ergonomics had the west going wild, circumstances forced her to change up her style”. He also changes it up one more time speaking on today’s Hip-Hop, “She’s just not the same letting all these groupies do her, and making it rain on her, and trying to Auto-Tune her. But I’m gonna take her back, hoping that this shit will stop, because who I’m talkin about ya’ll is Hip-Hop”.
Hip-Hop needs more covers like this. This along with Mos Def’s cover on MF Doom’s “Accordian” shows that rock is not the only music genre that can do covers.
8. The Problem Is… Featuring Sick Jacken & Uncle Chucc; Produced by Murs, 9th Wonder, & Sick Jacken
Let me give a quick background check on Sick Jacken before we get into this track. Sick Jacken is a member of the West Coast group Psycho Realm. They put out three albums (the first with B-Real), and I have to say that every record is nice. If you’re strictly into lyrics then I suggest you give them a few spins. Now back to the track, 9th Wonder lays down a beat that Sick Jacken and Murs can spread some knowledge on (Uncle Chucc on the hook). Murs gets on first and drops some hot lines, “Write rhymes like I’m trying to save the earth in time, before my girl get big and give birth to mine. I encourage you to live, put the worst behind, never worry about the past, it ain’t worth your time”. The second verse comes from Sick Jacken. He lets you know what he thinks the problem is, “It’s called implied knowledge, they know they turn our seeds to crime addicts, on the block chasing superficial status. Now do the mathematics, how many of us die in war, on the street, or for all who seek and score. The same cats who paid to protect and serve us, and the country turns it back, even though you fought for rid and service. When it comes to my life, it’s never one problem, you never know about it ‘til you walk the shoes that I’m in”. This is my favorite track on the album.
9. West Coast Cinderella Produced by Murs & 9th Wonder
Right when you hear the beat, you can tell it was heavily influenced by the West Coast. This is another storytelling song about a girl named Cindy. Murs breaks down a story about how she lived her life similar to Cinderella’s. It works because it actually sounds like a true story that goes along with the fairy-tale. I’ll let you give it a listen to see if it ends similar to the actual Cinderella. At this point of the album, I’m convinced that Murs hasn’t lost his ability to rhyme, and tell good stories.
10. Live From Roscoe’s Featuring Kurupt; Produced by Murs & 9th Wonder
Murs is joined once again by Kurupt on the album’s last track. I love to see Murs explore with new artists… especially Kurupt. One of my first Hip-Hop albums I ever bought was Dogg Food (cassette) by The Dogg Pound (at 9 years old). Kurupt’s flow on this takes me back to those days when everything he use to spit was fresh, “Let’s go to ’95, I was gliding and seeing the ground from the sky, you could only be there to see it thru my eye. We was crispy and might knock niggas the fuck out like Jack Dempsey when we tipsy”. Murs adds the final touch with the last verse, “I’m from a whole another planet see, guess that’s why these rap niggas ain’t understanding me. I’m from the hood with a couple dead homies, if you’re trippin’ off this rap shit, then you really don’t know me”
This album took a few days to grow on me. If you don’t really take time to LISTEN to it, then you’ll never truly appreciate it for what it is. I didn’t really know what to expect after Murs dropped his last album Murs For President. It’s not that the album is bad, but it seemed like he was taking his music into a different direction, and to be honest, I wasn’t feeling it as much as his early-mid 2000 compositions. The only thing that could’ve been better was some of the beats by 9th Wonder. Don’t get me wrong, he did do his thing on a few of them, but a few seem to be missing that fire we are use to. Plus, I could’ve done without “The Lick”.
Well this is the first of ten releases that Murs promised to drop this year. It’s a good start, and I’m curious to see what he has up his sleeves. He is supposedly putting out a collaboration album with Sick Jacken. This record should be a lyrical onslaught because Sick Jacken never disappoints with the lyrics, and Murs seems to be getting back on the lyrical side. He is also dropping Varsity Blues 2 EP. If you haven’t got the chance to listen to the original, then I highly recommend you picking it up. He’s putting out The Melrose with West Coast producer Terrace Martin. The only release I’m not looking forward to is a punk record he’s doing with some band out in Cali. Who knows, maybe Felt4 will be released this year too. They already know who it’s going to be dedicated to… A Tribute To Heidi Fleiss. The main question is who’s going to produce it. I would love to see Kno from the CunninLynguists handle the production. That no doubt will be one of the year’s best.
nappyPicks: “Fornever”, “Let Me Talk”, “Vikki Veil”, “The Problem Is…”, “Live From Roscoe’s”