Review Summary: Murs' debut for Def Jux is not perfect but has some great/memorable moments and is someone the listener can relate to.
Murs (an acronym for Making Underground Raw Sh*t) had been around for 10 years by the time this album was released first as a member of 3 Melancholy Gypsies (aka 3MG) and later Living Legends his previous work is extremely hard to find for it was on tiny independent labels with no distribution. Finally the California rapper got a chance with New York-based Def Jux, Murs became known to a wider audience who embraced him for his down to earth persona and raps about everyday regular subjects.
The first track, "You and I" explains the album title: the beginning was 10 years earlier when he first started rapping and how that came to an end because now he has to do interviews and in-stores. It seems toiling around in the underground has made him more appreciative of the opportunity he now has: "And the moment you pick this up up off the shelf see, you chose me and that means a lot, work hard for your money and this is what you bought" over a booming drum beat. "What Do You Know?" features a soulful vocal sample, a continuos "I Know" provided by Belief where Murs raps about what's on the radio "'Cause the beat is real heavy and the hook is real catchy."
On "The Night Before" Murs recounts three separate stories that almost ended badly the chorus goes "Last night I almost got shot on my block, not the block where I live at, the block where I chill at" and Murs tells each tale with vivid detail, so much so that the listener feels he's out there with him. With "Transitionz az a Ridah" Murs pays homageto the skateboarding lifestyle over the sounds of a skate park it's an original idea that unfortunately doesn't work very well and throughout the album, the mood seems to change drastically from one track to next. Aesop Rock joins Murs for "Happy Pillz" over a fittingly lazy beat, the pair talk about taking their medications, and Aesop complains about "the roaches in the kitchen that I scream on everyday but for some reason they don't listen."
Shock G provides the beat for "Risky Business" where he and his alter ego Humpty Hump drop in on Murs while his parents are out of town but with Humpty there, things predictably get out of hand "My girl urled in your backseat, but yo it's cool we got weed and some shrooms, is it cool to use your dad's room?." Def Jux head honcho El-P makes an appearance on "The Dance" and they rap over a futuristic up-tempo beat that is vintage El-P.
On "God's Work," Murs lays out a scenario most of us are familiar with: having a regular job. You don't hear most rappers talking about this, they're too busy talking about the glitz and glamour of being a rap star, granted Murs was not at that level but still, what rapper would talk about not being able to pick up girls?
I was trying to get laid, but, got no action
It was back to the crib for personal satisfaction
Triple X, dvd's, I got a whole stack in
Was snapped out of my daydream by something that I seen
I left the tissue full of spunk on the floor by my jeans
How's that for honesty? (maybe too honest?) The rest of the song is about touring, being on the road and performing when sick because "If I don't rap every night, I might lose a fan." Making him a sympathetic and likable but most important: relatable, I think most people can relate to something like this:
But I'm not ballin' so I got to go get paid
And continue the charade of customer service
Since I don't get commission my efforts seem worthless
Thanks and have a nice day 'cause what I got to say even if they were rude
And gave me attitude it's a shame what I have to do to get rent and food
Murs also speaks on being a fan with "Please Leave" where among other things he's asking past their prime rappers to retire, something that probably most of us have thought when we see a once great rapper tarnishing his legacy by staying around too long. (cough*LL Cool J*cough) Towards the end of the album it loses some steam, the exceptions being the two Ant(fom Atmosphere) produced tracks: 18 w/a Bullet and Got Damned? On the latter, Murs spits furiously about walking the fine line between being succesful and being a sellout:
So I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't
But I got it in my heart so I'll be damned if I won't
Make my dreams come true, my team come through
Man take it how you feel it; on the real it's on you
His 3MG buddies join him to close out the album and overall this is a very good effort which has some great moments but it's missing cohesiveness, it just seems like a collection of singles randomly slapped together but he really stands out at Def Jux well he's unlike most rappers but especially the ones at his label. Even though there seems to be no continuity from one track to the next, there are some great moments that make this album worth checking out.