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by Matt Conaway
8 July, 2003@12:00 am
0 comments

Upon completing a three-year bid for assault, the stars finally started to align for Keith Murray.  After being graciously released from his deal with Jive, Mr. Murray re-upped with one of, if not the most powerful label (Def Jam) in hip-hop and when your rolling with Rush, any concerns of having an under-promoted LP are immediately thrown out the window.  Right?  We’ll not so fast… Seems as if Keith’s temper has allegedly flared up again (“I’ll punch you in the esophagus”) and after a much bandied about incident with a Def Jam promotional member, he has been unceremoniously dropped by the imprint on the eve of his first release.

While Def Jam cut ties, there input in the creative process of He’s Keith Murray is still very evident; as Murray’s intricate grasp of the English language and the funk beats he previously unfurled them over have been concentrated for mass consumption.  Though the rhyme matador laments on “Sucka Free” that the new guard of emcees are saturating the game “young boys fucking up hip-hop.”  Rather then bucking trends, Murray joins them by doing much of the same with “Oh My Goodness,” “Swagger Back,” “Say Whaatt” feat. Redman and the embarrassingly fluffy, DJ Khalil produced “Candi Bar” where it becomes painfully obvious that Keith is not the most suave pick-up artist, as he offers the juvenile “I know your tired, you been running thru my mind all day.”

Though the linguistic flair Murray authored on previous efforts is only audible on a few choice cuts; non-sequitar’s aplenty are ripped on the Just Blaze  assisted “Yeah Yeah Ya Know It” feat. Redman and Erick Sermon where the Def Squad’s well-oiled chemistry continues to shine, he offers some comic relief with an ode to the posterior that would make Seymore Butts proud, “Da Ba Dunk Song,” and proves he can do more then flip braggadocios with introspective numbers “The Carnage” feat. Joe Hooker, “Child Of The Streets,” “Christina” and the now very applicable “Say Goodnight” where Keith touches on the events that lead to his incarceration “I’m very hardcore/I live out my metaphors/so don’t ask me what happened/ask that niggas jaw.”

Yet, even those tracks don’t match up favorably with some of the material Murray has authored in the past. And though we may have become numb to the ritualistic funk that Erick Sermon previously employed with Murray over the years, after He’s Keith Murray anyone would embrace them with open arms and ears.


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