Murs has nothing left to prove. He has released a nearly countless amount of albums, collaborated with an absurd and diverse amount of artists, and even started his own annual Hip-Hop festival that continues to this day. The man is an underground legend who has been releasing music since the mid 90’s, when I was still learning my ABC’s. These days, I’m learning what bottles of liquor are where in the ABC store, and Murs is still releasing music as frequently as he ever has. After signing with Definitive Jux, and then Warner Bros., Murs finds himself signed to the label of one of the few underground artists who has been more successful than him: Tech N9ne. Murs has already released the solid album ¡MursDay!, a collaboration with ¡MayDay!, since joining Strange Music in 2014. Let’s see if he can stand on his own two feet with his latest solo album.
1. Have a Nice Life Produced by The Arsonist & DOC
Over a gentle, piano-driven instrumental Murs reflects on how far he has come in his life, his music career, and his rekindled faith for God. I guess starting a family and joining a new label really put everything into perspective for him. Murs drops a lot of gems on this track, my favorite line is probably “Hate a few, try to love many more, And always let karma settle any score”. This is a great way to start the album.
2. Surprises Featuring Ryan “Myagi” Evans; Produced by Bernz, Gianni Ca$h, & Danny “Keys” Perez
The guy on the hook is dropping knowledge, but he can’t sing at all. Then again, Kendrick Lamar can’t sing at all and his hooks have a tendency to grow on me, so maybe the same thing will happen with this track. Anyway, Murs tells two different stories on this one; the first one is about him missing a girl that him and his boy used to fuck who wound up getting married. The most notable line in the verse is probably “I seen a ho become the housewife I wish I had”, I guess the surprise in this story was that the ho wound up settling down, but as soon as a girl agrees to fuck me and my boy, any urge I would have had to put a ring on it is disappearing faster than Muhammad Hassan from the WWE. The second story is about Murs doing his boys a favor by letting them perform at his Paid Dues tour and them turning their backs on him after he gave them a larger platform to perform on. Rather than be bitter about the situation, Murs just brushes it off and keeps his head high due to the success of his tour. This track was cool, but I really didn’t have any urge to listen to it again
3. Mi Corazon Produced by Jesse Shatkin
In case the title didn’t clue you in, Murs tells a story about a past relationship with a Hispanic girl named Letty, who shares a name with Vin Diesel’s girl from the Fast & Furious movies that all of my friends think is hot but I’d say she’s just okay. He even goes the extra mile and spits several lines in spanish. My only issue with this song is that the story isn’t fleshed out all that well, Murs seems damn near obsessed with the girl but he never really gives much detail about why. Again, this track is not a skip, but I really wouldn’t want to hear it a second time. It might have some extra replay value if you speak spanish, though.
4. Woke Up Dead Produced by Jesse Shatkin
The first line of the song is “Last night I had a dream that I woke up dead”, but Murs isn’t going all Walking Dead on us; instead this track is about him dreaming that he is a dead man walking due to him having a price put on his head. Murs speaks on the paranoia that comes along with knowing that men are trying to kill you, and ultimately dying. In a recent interview, Murs said that he really did tend to have dreams like this due to the violent environment that he grew up in, and even said that he and some his friends might have PTSD due to the crazy things that they have seen. This is a good song, and that last sentence would have been good segue into the next song.
5. PTSD Featuring E-40; Produced by Curtiss King
This track is way more aggressive than any other song thus far; definitely a nice change of pace. Murs sums up the stress that comes with living in the gang-infested hoods of California. Bars like “Extra clips, extra clips, I see them niggas now and I’m set to trip, Gang-bang party time, excellent, Not giving a fuck’s a prerequisite” are definitely the hardest bars of the album so far. E-40 comes through with a solid verse, but Murs definitely dominated this one. This track woke me up.
6. Okey Dog Produced by Jesse Shatkin
Seems like the album is picking up the pace since this track damn near sounds like a club song. That’s just due to the beat, though. The lyrics and the song title are based on one of Murs’ homies that he grew up with who is currently in jail. Apparently, Okey Dog was a loner who never gave a fuck and would beat the hell out of anybody who stepped to him the wrong way. Murs does a good job of painting a picture of what his boy was like, but the music video does an even better job (It’s funny as hell and it has Asa Akira in it, but it is weird seeing her with clothes on). Anyway, enjoy the song, watch the video, and free Okey Dog.
7. Pussy & Pizza Produced by Jesse Shatkin
This beat is way more chill than the last two but I like it a lot. This is the first song that actually seems to be about Murs rather than a character that he is portraying. He really doesn’t drop any mind blowing bars here or anything but I like this song a lot; I could definitely see it being played at a party.
8. Two Step Featuring King Fantastic; Produced by Jesse Shatkin
These last four tracks have really gotten me back into the album. Here we get another uptempo beat and more of Murs talking shit, and we even get a Jay-Z reference on the hook. Unlike the last song, this track has several stand out lines, my favorite part probably being “In my zone with a brand new playlist/Walked right past my ex, didn’t say shit/Then I changed my mind like ‘Ayye bitch!/Tell your new boyfriend that he can’t fake this!”. King Fantastic drops a better verse than I was expecting from a guy who’s name sounds like it came from a really shitty Wu-Tang Name Generator. It wasn’t a great verse, but it doesn’t drag the song down.
9. No More Control Featuring MNDR; Produced by Jesse Shatkin
The first part of this beat sounds like ScHoolboy Q’s “Sex Drive” and any Linkin Park song from 2003 had a baby, but it was an ugly baby. The girl on the hook also sounds like she could have sang most hooks on any of Eminem’s last 3 albums, which is long-winded way of saying that she doesn’t sound good. All of this is a shame, since Murs is dropping some pretty good motivational lyrics on here. On the 2nd verse the annoying stuttering synths are replaced by piano keys and it sounds A LOT better. On the 3rd verse the beat changes up again, and Murs starts speaking on police brutality and Black on Black crime, similar to Kendrick’s verse on “The Blacker the Berry”. I’m just gonna post the bars here and you guys can comment on em, some of em rubbed me the wrong way, but it’s whatever:
They had a rally for police brutality up at the park
But when we killing ourselves don’t nobody want to march
We got to start to take a look in the mirror
If we don’t respect ourselves then they always gone fear us
If black lives matter then black lives matter
And the color of the killer shouldn’t even be a factor
Most of these rappers ain’t equipped to lead
Cause most of these rappers illiterate, can’t read
This is educated street music for the educated street movement
It’s fucked up what the police is doing
But motherfucker look what we doing
This track isn’t a skip, but the beat made it kind of hard for me to listen to at times.
10. Skating Through the City Produced by Plex Luthor
Murs makes his own ode to skateboarding, but quickly points out that he was skating long before Lupe came out with “Kick, Push”. In the first verse he reflects on skateboarding as a kid and all the wild shit he used to get into with his boys. He then uses the second verse to speak on how skating has become more mainstream in the past decade; it’s no longer something that is foreign to the Black community or something you have to do in the streets instead of at a skate park. This one was nice, someone hit up Activision and tell them to add this Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5.
11. Anyways Produced by Jesse Shatkin
What’s a rap album if it doesn’t have a song about drug dealing? Murs spends most of the song telling a story about the rise and fall of his neighborhood coke dealer. Murs does a good job of making selling drugs seem like a completely rational decision. As he says on the hook “If I don’t sell it to em, they gone get it anyway..” true shit. The drug dealer in this story does wind up facing a really long sentence in jail, though. So don’t sell drugs, kids, don’t skip this song either.
12. The Worst Produced by ¡MayDay!
Story-time continues, Murs tells a story about his girl on the side ruining his relationship. He knows that he needs to cut the chick off to keep his marriage safe, but the thought of some pussy on the side is just too good to resist. The flow, the hook, and even the beat on this track make it sound like an alternate reality version of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend”. ¡Mayday! Really did give Murs a great beat for this track, and the lyrics are on point, this one is a keeper.
13. Black Girls Be Like Produced by Gianni Ca$h
After writing songs about Asian girls, and even dark-skinned white girls, Murs uses what might be the best (definitely the funkiest) beat on the album to give us an ode to our own ebony goddesses. I wouldn’t really call this a female empowerment anthem, since Murs really just uses his bars to name a lot of different kinds of Black girls, and even uses the stereotypical “Yaasss!” on the hook, but Murs isn’t Beyonce and this is a fun song. He does drop a little bit of knowledge on here, and there’s even a saxophone solo at the end. Nice.
14. I Miss Mikey Produced by Jesse Shatkin
Somewhat surprisingly, Murs uses this upbeat instrumental to talk about the death of his friends. Specifically, the Mikey in the title refers to the underground rapper and freestyle legend Eyedea, who passed away in 2010. As someone who has lost a few friends, this track really hits home. During the outro Murs talks about how he was excited to get married, not just for the obvious reasons, but because the ceremony would give his friends a celebratory occasion to get dressed up for, rather than a funeral or a court appearance. This track ultimately doubles as a tribute to fallen friends and an anthem to motivate those who are living to live life to the fullest and never take it for granted. This was a great way to end the album.
The first Murs album that I heard was Murs 3:16; his first collaboration with 9th Wonder. One thing that immediately drew me to Murs was how diverse his subject matter is. While this album is not as good as that one, it is equally diverse in it’s subject matter, if not more. There is a track for everybody on this album, probably several tracks for everybody. Murs is just a guy who is easy to relate to, and his music reflects that.
With that said, this album does start off kind of slow, and the sequencing on the album isn’t great; several really laid back songs lead directly into uptempo or hard hitting songs. I think this album would have been a little better if some of the songs had been rearranged so that they flowed into each other better. Some of the hooks are kind of shitty too. I guess the unpredictable nature of what comes next does reflect well on the album, though. The unpredictability of the instrumentals is second only to the unpredictability of Murs’ lyrics; you never know what topic he’ll cover next and the album is better for it. So check this one out, I’m sure at least five or six songs will end up on your playlist. I’d offer you guys a money-back guarantee, but it’s 2015 and I know 90% of y’all aren’t paying for this shit. Peace. Free Okey Dog.