15 April, 2010@2:29 am
When older hip hop fans first hear “I Used to Love Her (Again)” on the new album from MURS and 9th Wonder, Fornever, it might be a bit of a shock to the system. We’re there already? We’re covering Common? MURS updates the classic slightly to include mentions of things like auto-tune, but never having appreciated the multitude of Slick Rick and Rakim songs or lines that have been rehashed over the years, jacking Common feels like an unnecessary addition to an otherwise consistent album.
Raleigh, North Carolina’s 9th Wonder has been producing a steady flow of quality for a while now, notably with Little Brother and Jean Grae. This is his fourth collaboration with Los Angeles-based MURS, and he shows some flexibility with more of a West Coast sound. Longtime West Coast rapper Kurupt, of the Dogg Pound, shows up to bookend the album, sounding particularly energized on “Fornever” and “Live From Roscoe’s,” an ode to L.A. and the famous chicken and waffles joint. MURS, a regular at Roscoe’s, vividly describes his vegetarian order at the restaurant.
MURS doesn’t have the smoothest or most infectious flow, but his day-in-the-life subject matter and specificity of description separates him from the pack. “The Lick” featuring Verb takes you on a tour of the local convenience store, while “Asian Girl” featuring 9th on the mic is a playful dedication to Asian women. “Vicki Veil” details the travails of a relationship with a porn star, which, with the help of 9th’s soulful production, oddly achieves a degree of tenderness.
There are a number of guest appearances on Fornever and occasionally MURS gets upstaged, like on the socio-economically charged “The Problem Is” featuring Sick Jacken from Psycho Realm. The aforementioned Kurupt also makes you wonder if he shouldn’t have his own collaboration with 9th Wonder. The nice thing, though, is that there is some chemistry between the guests and Murs. It’s not just a collection of names. You get the feeling Murs and friends were actually in the studio at the same time when this was recorded.
As talented as 9th Wonder is, he might be in need of a challenge. Some of this just feels a little easy. The music wears well, but there are no real stunners and he doesn’t have the kind of chemistry with Murs that he did with Little Brother on their earlier work. When he worked with Jay-Z on “Threat” from The Black Album it was a wow moment. You wonder what he could do with someone else of superior talent, maybe a Lupe Fiasco, or even Common. Either way, Murs covering “I Used To Love H.E.R.” will do for now.
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