The End of the Beginning

Fresh off a tour with Atmosphere, rapper Murs (who reps Mid City, Los Angeles) spouts what he calls “sitcom rap"—or what I call more realistic themes and identifiable characters ("we don’t gangbang ‘cause we got j-o-b-s"), covering topics such as skateboarding and anti-depressants with hit-and-miss humor and style.

The sporadically dope new album is being released by the hottest label in rap right now, El-P’s Definitive Jux, which was responsible for some of the most interesting hip-hop last year. The Murs album is a raw, unpolished affair of abrasive, working-man style, with fresh production and a weird, Steven Hawking-like electronic voice talking over tracks (lending the album a late-night, underground radio vibe). Murs tends to shine more fully on the slower jams that feature soul/r&b sampling like the excellent “I Know,” which weds Murs’ relentless flow ("opinions are like rap careers, everybody’s got one") with what sounds like Supremes-era Diana Ross sample on the chorus. Also featured are guest appearances from Aesop Rock and El P—as well as the unmistakable pimp flavor of Shock G and Humpty Hump (misused on a rather boring track).

For stylistically progressive hip-hop and underground (read: realistic) lyrics, Def Jux is definitely a place to visit.