Murs is one of the hardest working men in Hip-Hop. He's also at his prime right now. So any release with Murs on it is instantaneously worth a look. Having 9th in tow is just an added bonus. If you enjoyed the last album these two put together, there's no reason you won't find things to like on this go-round. However, the dynamic duo shine more when they stick to their respective comfort zones as opposed to when they try to push their limits.
I mean it when I say that Murs is one of my favorite MC's right now. Dude is super busy as well releasing album after album of dopeness. What Murs does best is paint pictures of life in inner-city LA or of his messed up relationships with the opposite sex. Personally, I find that Murs is more effective when he's being serious. I find the moments where he puts his tongue in his cheek less compelling. For example, the ode to Asian women - "Asian Girl" - comes off as a tad corny to me with lines like She Korean so she just like me/she like BBQ and Kim-Chi or Step your noodle game up/If you got an asian girl you done came up . Or on "Cigarettes and Liquor" where Murs proclaims that because of his frequent cigarette smoking that in A couple of years and I'ma sound like Guru. Now contrast that with his slice of life lyrics from "Live From Roscoe's":
I stroll out in the California moonlight
I can see stars in LA that's a cool night
I hear shots in the distance
The little homies trippin' that's some inner city living
Similarly, 9th Wonder's strength lies in making beats that are dripping Soul music. So when he strays from that, I feel like he loses his rhythm a bit. Juxtapose the J-Zone-ish "Asian Girl" with the souled-out beat on the "I Used To Love Her" remake. To me, it's like night and day. Continuing my bitch-fest, Murs and 9th Wonder are stars. Why they felt the need to pad this album with so many guest appearances is beyond me because they take the focus away from these two Hip-Hop superstars and don't always add anything worthwhile to the track (case in point being Kurupt's appearance on the titular "Fornever") and at best don't get in the way all that much (case in point being Kurupt's appearance on "Live From Roscoe's").
Ok, so now with that out of the way, when Murs is being serious and 9th is on his Souled-Out Spaceship - shit is ridiculous. Murs in storytelling-mode is something to behold for real. Peep his storytelling on "Vikki Veil" where he destroys the fantasy of being in a relationship with a stripper, or the slice of inner-city life by way of a fairy tail metaphor "West Coast Cinderella" where Murs tells the story of a good woman struggling to make a life for herself with lots of parallels to the Cinderella story.
A hungry Murs, is a good Murs as evidenced by "The Problem Is" as it is the promise of 9th and Murs delivered. Soul inspired beats and hungry lyrics with a real sense of desperation and urgency...just - for my money - Hip-Hop at it's absolute best.
So for fans of Murs and for fans of 9th and for fans of quality Hip-Hop, this album delivers in spades. There are a few moments where Murs and 9th try to take things less seriously and to me, these moments are not as effective as when they are in full on inner-city journalism-mode. That said, there is plenty here to love and personally I think that these two should continue to make music together because they do bring out the best in each other most of the time.
4.000 out of 5
|1. Fornever (feat. Kurupt) (03:38)||3|
|2. The Lick (feat. Verbs) (03:45)||4|
|3. Asian Girl (feat. 9thmatic) (03:37)||3|
|4. Let Me Talk (feat. Suga Free) (04:22)||4|
|5. Cigarettes and Liquor (04:16)||3|
|6. Vikki Veil (03:31)||4|
|7. I Used to Luv Her (Again) (06:16)||4|
|8. The Problem Is... (feat. Sick Jacken & Uncle Chucc) (03:38)||5|
|9. West Coast Cinderella (03:52)||5|
|10. Live From Roscoe's (feat. Kurupt) (05:04)||5|