9 August, 2007@12:00 am
Keith Murray, at one time, was the premier lyricist in Hip-Hop. His extended vocabulary, aggressive flow and witty punchlines made Keith an anomaly of the artform. While The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World put him on the map, his subsequent releases haven’t fared quite as well. After a steady decline and a stint in jail, Murray has continuously displayed flashes of brilliance on cuts like “Fatty Girl” and G-Dep’s “Special Delivery” remix. With a refocused Murray back in the booth, can Rap-murr-phobia be the album that re-introduces Keith Murray to the masses?
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Murray can spit, the question is if Keith can construct a dope song and a cohesive album. Unfortunately, with Rap-murr-phobia the answer seems to be “no.”
While Rap-Murr-Phobia means “The Fear Of Real Hip Hop”, the album should have been about the real emcee. Murray is simply viscous when he is in battle mode. “U Ain’t Nobody” is Murray at his best, with Redman and Erick Sermon huffing out lyrics, it’s Keith who flexes the most lyrical muscle here. Although the production is average at best from Sermon, it proves to be one of the highlights on the album. Elsewhere, the reggae tinged “Hustle On” features Murray lamenting about his financial struggles early in life and does it quite well. One of the few times where the production matches Murray’s ferociousness on the mic.
Rap-Murr-Phobia suffers from the same illness He’s Keith Murray wallowed in - blatent mainstream attempts. While the lyrics in “Nobody Does It Better” reminds the listener of who introduced the world to “Ba-dunk-a-dunk”, the Tyrese feature and juicy production screams for radio attention. It’s easy to oversee the attempt simply because it works but “Something Like A Model” doesn’t fare nearly as well. Keith just doesn’t sound comfortable when it comes to the ladies and the whole song feels relatively forced.
Production is another mishap altogether on the album. Dope narratives like “Last Night” suffer tremendously because of the production. Maybe Erick Sermon has lost a step or Keith suffers from the same disease as Ras Kass, Canibus and Nas fight with - the inability to pick beats. “Weeble Wobble” isn’t just broke because of its corny title, but it just isn’t held up by the production. Even the 50 Grand and Method Man collabo, “What It Is” can’t seem to get over the production hump.
Keith Murray may still be the dopest emcee on anyone’s corner, but unfortunately the magic to make a great album is long gone. He’ll always be fantastic for a guest appearance or two, and whenever he freestyles, heads will take notice of his brutal mic wizardry, but Rap-Murr-Phobia just isn’t that album we’ve expected from Keith Murray.
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