We have moved into a new era. We live in a world where we need to have synergy and the edginess necessary to use words like synergy. Thinking inside the box is no longer acceptable. Thinking outside the box has also become passé. We now think without a box at all.
Those partaking in the recent concept-/random-collaboration-album fad have bought into this new mindset. Artists such as Madlib, MF Doom, J. Dilla, and Danger Mouse get credit as the forerunners of this trend, and their albums yield crazy ideas and sometimes even crazier results. Enter Murs and 9th Wonder. They stand on the fringe of this movement but take a different approach than their contemporaries do: keep it simple. They dare not explore the edge, and the box is their friend. They may have synergy, but they would never use such a word. As Murs says, they have a “weird chemistry.” As I say, they have unity.
Murray’s Revenge is not an album with a complex, overarching narrative. Murs does not shout out actresses with cult followings (though he has in the past). Master Shake(http://culturecat.net/files/frame24.jpg) does not appear and offer a shit-talking cameo. If other emcees are rhyme spitters, Murs is a troubadour. But his simplistic tales of romance and the changing times should not be mistaken as old-fashioned or regressive. Take “Dark-Skinned White Girls,” where Murs breaks down the ever-evolving and complex issue of racial identity over another 9th Wonder heater. We should commend Murs for being one of the few to challenge the media-propagated stereotype of what it means to be black, white, or any other race in America today.
Murs’s earnest, plain-spoken ways spread themselves throughout the album. “Dreamchasers” details the story of those who abandon their dreams in lieu of financial pressures, and “L.A.” serves as an apt descriptor of Murs’s home turf. “Silly Girl” serves as a natural follow up to “Bad Man,” a standout from 2004’s Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition. Murs speaks only what he knows. He does not claim to be the king of the streets, nor does he cite theories of nuclear thermodynamics. As for Little Brother‘s 9th Wonder, his production will draw the same criticism that his previous works have. The beats are chop-tastic and his signature (or tired, depending on who you talk to) wispy snare is back. But does it matter when it sounds so damn good?
There is a lot to be said for good chemistry. Nothing about this album is jaw dropping, but Murs and 9th play off each other so well throughout this short but sweet album that I don’t really care. My only complaint: Is it too hard to put Luckyiam.PSC and Phonte together on a song? Living Legends and the Justus League, the stables that Murs and 9th belong to, respectively, are far too talented not to cross-pollinate them at least once on the album. But maybe that’s for another time and place. For now, all I can say is well done.