Murs & 9th Wonder | Murray’s Revenge (Record Collection)

Murs gives us flashes of the raw, confessional style around which 3:16 was built, and every couple of songs, 9th gives us a beat that demands to be turned up.

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Sequels are never better than the original. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator could never live up to what Charlie did that first time in the Chocolate Factory. Wonka just wasn’t the same; Augustus Gloop killed his shine. The same thing can happen to rappers. It can even happen to Kanye West. Universally damaging.

Murray’s Revenge is the follow-up—or, should I say, the sequel—to 2004’s Murs
3:16: The 9th Edition
, the first collaboration between Los Angeles–based indie rapper Murs and 9th Wonder, the North Carolina beat extraordinaire. 3:16 is one of the better hip-hop releases of the last five years, a short but almost flawless combination of Murs’ aggressive, bravado-soaked lyrics and 9th’s thumping production. “H-U-S-T-L-E” and the title track are what true hip-hop is meant to be: machismo over drums. On Murray’s Revenge, the formula still works, but the bravado is toned down, and the beats thump and bump a little less. Murray, meet Charlie Bucket.

Still, it really isn’t a bad album. Murs gives us flashes of the raw, confessional style around which 3:16 was built, and every couple of songs, 9th gives us a beat that demands to be turned up. “Murray’s Law” recaptures that 3:16 vibe, with the “I’m iller than you are” mentality in full effect. Murs’ raps “You would have thought I run track/the way I ran through my rivals/man I swear I’m the truth/slap my hand on the bible.” Each of the three verses showcase what Murray does best: letting us know how serious an emcee he is and how serious a punk a global you are. On “L.A.,” an homage to his beloved hometown, he makes you question whether taking the next flight out of wherever you are isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

The two most interesting songs on the album, though, are “Yesterday” and “Dreamchasers,” both significant departures from the battle jam or hometown shout out. “Yesterday” verges on inspirational music, with a near-perfect vocal sample courtesy of 9th Wonder providing the chorus: “Yesterday I hurt/and today I’m new.” “Dreamchasers” highlights his storytelling ability, a painted portrait of growing up in the hood. He raps, “We live life like death ain’t a thing/fear and respect we collect like kings/relieve stress with every breath I sing/we all chase money cuz we scared to chase dreams.”

Murray from Los Angeles and Charlie from London share that sequel slump. As good as some of it may be, songs about silly girls—like “Silly Girl”—drag the album down. 3:16 set the bar very, very high for these two, and there’s a natural belief that anything plus two years has to be better than what came first. This is a very solid album, certainly worth a spot in the CD player, but it falls short of 3:16 by a whole bunch of feet.

 

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