Monday, November 16, 2009

Murs for President : For Hip Hop Fans Only

I'm Innocent
   This song starts off a little sacharin, so positive it feels like granola mixed  little bit rainbow bright, but then Murs gets into his groove but the overall theme of the song is confused in that it starts out with a do-the-right-thing message and then moves into Murs flossing in an underground way.There are plenty of memorable lyrics in the second and third verses, i.e, "Your cold coffee and wet cigarettes.  I'm a shot of expresso and hot morning sex."  Then he hits bars that only hardcore hip hop fans would catch, i.e. a references to a famous Internet battle between E-N-J and Niks,"Oh you madd cause I'm styling on you."  The 9th Wonder track stands strong on a major label release but perhaps someone should have told Murs, he's in the big time now.  Grade:  Pass.

Lookin' Fly
  This is a floss song but it's been done before and better. There is nothing here to distinguish Murs from others except his lack of degredation of women.  It's not what you say don't say but it's what you do say as Murs does not replace his inherent respect for women with lyrical acclaim. Rather the song seems just to lack.   The hook leaves alot to be desired.  Is there a hook doctor in the house?  The beat stands up, it's a bit schitzophrenic and off kilter which for a beat is pretty cool.  Keith Harris is representing  Harris Productions well with this track.  Sadly, Murs doesn't do the same with this track.  Grade:  Fail.

The Science
  Murs represents here.  He clearly knows what he's talking about.  It's an intellectual track.  "It's not black and white.  It's so much more.  It's the rich staying rich and the poor staying poor."  He talks about the CIA's alliance with Freeway Ricky Ross and the connection between capitalism and the prison system and then ties it into the creation of hip hop.  Here Murs represents himself and hip-hop so well.  He brings the mainstream to the underground and forces them to appreciate it.  If Murs can deliver this art/product consistently, whoa.  He even manages to outshine a very hot beat by Scoop DeVille. Nice track Scoop.  Grade:  Super Solid.


Can It Be (Half A Million Dollars and 18 Months Later)
  This track is a call to action but it lacks the sacharine nature of some do-right tracks.  It is the Murs I first heard on Murray's Revenge.  Nice.  The track is Scoop DeVille representing again.  He uses an MJ hook.  Grade:  Respectable.

  Nice song.  Pain mixed with positivity.  Lots of pain though.  Murs speaks about growing up in the ghetto but it's not a "To Live and Die in LA".  It's not a love ballad to the "hood."  Rather it's first verse is a autobiographical verse about being the oddball in the ghetto but what's great about this track is how he spins that pain into a resiliant stubborn happiness.  This is a nice example of a positive track that isn't the sunny side only but rather exemplifies the pain and debunks the myth "It's all good in the hood."  The track produced by LT Moe also introduces the listener to James Blunt in a sad, yet positive hook, reminescent in a lighter version of the emotionalism gained by Jay-Z's "Song Cry."  Grade:  Good Plus.


Road Is My Religion
  This is a cool song because you don't hear about it often.  You hear about the lifestyle of the huge mainstream artists and they all sound wonderful but this is nice because you hear about the lifestyle of the working class artist.  The hook, whoa!   If Murs does his thing like this, no hook doctor required.  This is a song he didn't have to work on, it just was inside of him and came out.  It flows easily but it's rough.  The beat is a little NIN sounding, but if a construction site had a beat, this would be it.  PRODUCER TO KEEP AN EYE ON: KHALIL.  Nice.  Grade:  Very strong.  

Sooo Comfortable
  For the first time on "Murs for President" the beat is somewhat subpar.  Murs, however, talks about the L.A. lifestyle, the culture and the people through the perspective of a normal Los Angeleno.  The lyrics are on point and it's just a solid contribution to the album, despite the okay track.  Grade:  Solid.


Time is Now
Murs noticable steps up his lyrical game on a track with Snoop Dogg.  Murs attempts to set the ground rules of the track by outlining a hardcore, resiliant positivity, like a spider web in the sunlight made out of titanium. Snoop Dogg serves up basic rudimentary Snoop Dogg fare and Murs succeeds in not being outshined on his own track.  In the third verse, Murs doesn't continue lyricism for lyricism's sake.  Rather he addresses very clearly the message imbedded in the gospel-infused track.  The producer:  Terrance Martin aka Niggarachi (Liberracci except with Nigga in it ... I couldn't make that up) constructs a special track.  Grade:  Solid and Good.


Think You Know Me
This is a great song.  It talks about an overall theme in Murs career.  It speaks about the individualism often not allowed to African-American males.  Though he may have the style of a gangster, he contends that it isn't a gangster's style but rather is just a West Coast youth oriented style.  He continues on to talk about the many roles that he fulfills none of which are a gangster's roles, namely as an artist, a taxpayer, a worker, a nurse, a youth organizer, and the list goes on.  This track is the type of thoughtful and non-standard tracks that allow Murs to stand out from a crowd of plus ones.   "Weekdays I'm an RN at Kaiser.  Weekends, I'm a youth organizer."  "Trying to live the American Dream.  But you keep judging me by the crease in my jeans."  The song is a song that is from the heart and the subject matter is original.  Grade:  Great.

Me and This Jawn
A love ballad.  It's good.  It's been done before but from an artist like Murs you have to expect it.  It's not annoying.  It's not half bad.  There are no twists.  It's a Jane meet Joanne type of ballad, love for everyday people.  It's cool.  Could be better.  Could be worst.  The track, a chopped up Isley Brothers hook, made by Nottz, once again representing, is a great track.  Grade:  Decent.

Love and Appreciate II (feat.  Tyler Woods)
It's a hard push toward healing the relationships, specifically as portrayed in rap music, between men and women.  It's okay.  It comes across as preachy.  Instead of pulling an Eminem and exhibiting an example (however out of the mainstream it may be) through a storyline or through lyrical acclaim, Murs goes for the professorial approach.  It gets old quickly, especially after "Me and This Jawn" this track gets one grade, not for message but for artistic delivery.  Grade:  Weak.

A Part of Me
This song is honest.  It's about a breakup but unlike most songs about breakups this song is conflicted like a real breakup.  There is the acceptance of blame and the anger that goes with a breakup even though it may be your fault.  There is the desperation and the need for forgiveness.  Rarely is a rap song so focused yet unfocused and simultaneously accurate.  The electric guitar simultaneously speaks to the message and guides the song.  Much credit to Murs for writing so well in this song and listening to the beat.  PRODUCER TO WATCH: TERRANCE MARTIN.  The Grade:  Superb. 


Break Up (The OJ Song)
Murs has a Ph.D. in relationships.  This song in relationship to the last three songs gives context to the album art (Murs screaming in a suit and tie), a man trapped in society yet so conflicted.  The lyrics are complex and the track itself is Kanye-esque but is befitting.  Knotch does a good job on the track but Murs schools the average man on relationships and how they actually work.  Great song, thus the grade ... Grade:  Great.

A good song.  A nice way to end a CD.  Grade: Decent.

This CD is a buy for hip hop fans.  Weaknesses:  There is no overall story or theme to the entire album.  At points individual songs can come across preachy.  It can be a bit annoying.  Strengths:  The topic matter is often well above par and the adeptness with which Murs treats the topic matter lyrically is above par as well.  When Murs is on the same track at the producer and he does what the beat says do the results are stupendous.  However, Murs' lack of even one party song and his contortionist tactics of not being mainstream at all, even when it's called for and fun, is somewhat laborious in itself.  Result:  Buy (if you are a hip hop fan -- read: you appreciate intellectual thought and lyricism combined with some great beats without the need to party or dance, at least in this case).  If hip-hop is something you dance and party to and don't really listen to deeply (and there's nothing wrong with that) don't buy this album.
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