Murs redefines hip-hop

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Love and Rockets, Vol. 1: The Trasnformation, is notable for its offbeat album art.

Jordan Kauffman

jmkauffman@radford.edu

Picking an album each week to review usually leads to one deciding factor: album art. Think about it, unless you know explicitly which album you want to buy, you look at the album art.  It’s the artist’s one chance to sell you their product without you even knowing what you’ve gotten yourself into. Murs knows exactly how to do that, and that’s what Love and Rockets, Vol 1: The Transformation is made of.

The album art is a burnt orange color with a blue ocean and rocket ship in the background. Aliens are amassed on the cover, a mixture between burnt orange and blue, walking toward the shore. Murs proved the “Don’t judge a book by its cover” theory, because aliens, while similarly related to his slang-spelled planet name, have nothing to do with the collected, refined hip-hop this album oozes.

Murs is not new to the hip-hop scene.  Born in 1978, Murs has been building his name since his first album release at age 19. Murs creates one-of-a-kind hip-hop, and you can immediately tell how much effort he places into the beats and melody into his songs.

Upon first listen, one feels like you’ve known Murs for years; he’s completely smooth and comfortable in his role in knowing he’s the best at what he does.  From the first song, “Epic Salutations,” Murs hooks you in with cut-and-paste strings and a fluid bass line.

When listening, it’s not hard to believe that Murs has been doing this for a while; he’s not the roaring flame that Lil Wayne is, nor is he the in-your-face of Kanye West, he’s just himself.

While the current rap music boasts mean reputations and on-off song writing, Murs writes classics in every song. Murs does not give anything less than 100 percent on each song. He wants you to know that the $9.99 you spent on the album was well worth it, whether you bought it based on album cover or not.

The lyrical content isn’t too off-the-deep-end either; mostly narrative experiences about Murs’ life or even joke experiences. Love and Rockets isn’t the conceptual after-thought of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, nor is it the slightly unnerving horror core of Tyler the Creator’s Goblin which allows any uneasy hip-hop listener to pick it up and fall in love.

Murs paints a picture using his words and own voice, not auto tune.  Most can relate to the break-up styling of “Remember 2 Forget,” with the creative opening line, “I keep forgetting to remember to forget.” The song’s chorus will get stuck in your head for days.  The laid back jazz of “Hip Hop and Jazz” is perfect for any Sunday-morning-recovery-mode.  The smooth, breathless rhyming between Tabi Bonney and Murs on that track is flawless.

Murs’ voice just sounds so familiar in every track; you’ve heard him as a back up rapper on that one song somewhere, but you can’t quite place your finger on it.  His voice speaks to you in ways that Kanye West could never begin to do, and it’s just because Murs knows what works and what doesn’t.  Murs isn’t the fizzle-out flame of ‘rappers’ like Soulja Boy, because he’s been in the business since 1996, and his falme is still running as strong as it did when he started.

One immediately notices the diversity of instruments used on Love and Rockets.  Murs uses a lot of guitar, piano and unique drum beats, not the stock ‘uhn-tiss’ of normal rap or cut-and-paste samples from other’s

songs.

The soothing horns in “International” instantly relax the mind and soul. The waterfall of piano and slide-blues guitar on “Animal Style” are beautiful and contrasting sound hide the depressing story of a man now hated by his friends.

As an artist, Murs is conscious of social issues and masks it with beautiful backing music so the obvious listener won’t be turned off by the message that he is trying to convey.

Murs masterfully creates album after album that not only impress musically, but lyrically as well.