Underground for the People
Following back-to-back underground classics, Murs for President finds Murs with a larger constituency to which deliver his message. The album marks Murs’ major label debut, and while there are plenty of good tracks here, Murs for President is too calculated and far-reaching to compete with the lo-fi excitement of his indie work. Murs for President is worth buying if only to support a rarity for major label hip-hopâ€šÃ„Ã®a down-to-earth dude that has big time talent, minus any pretentiousness tied to ultra consumerism, slangin’ copious amounts of coke or, conversely, being more conscientious than thou. In other words, Murs is an everyday man whose lyrics are based on reality. But compared to Murs 3:16 and Murray’s Revenge, focused albums that are shorter and sonically more cohesive, this record falls just short of the mark.
Like any promising presidential candidate, Murs has the ability to be all things to all people. In that spirit, Murs for President is a mosaic of hip-hop subgenres. Conscious rap, rap rock, soul rap, political rap, life-on-the-road rap, I-used-to-get-punked-for-being-different rap, various-stages-of-love rap, and even a dubious “major label made me do it” club rap is featured here. Clearly, Murs aims to prove that no hip-hop fan will be left behind when he takes office. Well meaning as his ambition is, Murs for President would have benefited from a shorter running time and a few more beats by 9th Wonder, the producer behind every track on his two previous albums.
Nevertheless, continuity and excess are the album’s flaws, not the songs themselves, which, outside of the will.i.am-produced, club-intended clunker “Lookin’ Fly,” are compelling.
On “Think You Know Me,” perhaps the album’s best track, Murs shows off his gift for creating characters that are complex, but relatable.
“In the Feds, I prayed and I read
Anything to keep the system, up out my head
I read Zen, Young, Bukowski
You really don’t know a damn thing about me
I probably got a higher IQ than you
These jobs ain’t hiring
What should I do?”
Starting with “Me and This Jawn,” Murs devotes four tracks to the emotions felt while falling in and out of love. The Los Angeles MC avoids veering the record off into a world of mush by dodging clichâˆšÂ©s and using four contrasting beats to underscore the different emotions. The juxtaposition of rap rock in “A Part of Me” and the soul sample-laced “Break Up (The OJ Song)” provides the best one-two punch on the album.
Other standouts on Murs for President include “Road Is My Religion,” “Everything,” “The Science,” and “Time Is Now.”
Murs for President is a well-executed, albeit, bloated major label debut. This would be an exceptional album for most rappers, but since Murs has indie releases in his back catalogue superior to this one, let’s hope Warner Bros. gives him creative license to add a mainstream classic to his impressive underground resume next time.