Murs 3:16 The 9th Edition

Artist: MursTitle: Murs 3:16 The 9th EditionRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Mark Cilantro

Two coasts. Two groups. Two artists. Two vibes. One record. Murs. 9th Wonder.

On paper Murs 3:16 The 9th Edition deserves a listen regardless of the Fruity Loops snares and North California hooks. As a follower and participant of this indie scene over the past 10 years the Living Legends (Murs’ crew) and Little Brother are two interesting stories, if not curious anomalies. The Living Legends have been grinding it out on the West Coast far away from the A train, Mike Bloomberg, Queensbridge and the Rockefeller drug laws. If it wasn’t for West Coast to NYC transplants I fear that their mere existence would go unnoticed like Charlie Ward winning the Heisman. However, The Legends ability to maintain not only a presence but some semblance of dominance in the indie scene as well is worth a feature on in and of itself.

On the other hand there is Little Brother, the rookies of the year who have realized their dreams within 12 months. They have put in a fraction of the time the LL has put in while eclipsing their ink as well as sales. And that brings us to 3:16

To twist your mind up even more the record is on Def Jux (El-P, Aesop Rock, et. al.) known for its esoteric, avant-garde, and sometimes puzzling releases. This record is a continuing effort from our trucker hat, Bard college student loving hip hoppers at Def Jux. Clearly they are trying to diversify their sound and artists to avoid the dreaded pigeon holing. For all of that we must applaud.

With his 2003 solo release The End of the Beginning, Murs is the most recognizable member of Living Legends and with his contributions to Jay Z’s Black Album 9th Wonder is clearly the John Kerry of Little Brother. 3:16 does well at showcasing Murs’ skills to an East Coast knucklehead like myself. On the other hand, more times than not, 9th Wonder’s compositions fail to highlight his skills as much as his The Listening did last year. Murs allows you a clear view into his psyche with songs reflecting on the passing of his best friend “H-U-S-T-L-E.” A two part jam that shows Murs and 9th musically meshing on the second movement with talk of revenge that followed the strategy. Relations with the fairer sex dominate the album (more early ATCQ than James Todd Smith). Two standouts are “Bad Man” where Murs reminisces on his bad rep with the ladies over a raga inspired 9th Wonder jam; and the title track where 9th pulls a page out of Alchemist’s copy of the DJ Premier handbook. Phonte of Little Brother fame makes an appearance on “Animal” and provides a somewhat light snack for all the LB fans.

With the releases of Jaylib and Madvillainy (and Best Of Both Worlds on a major level) there seems to be a trend of locking two heavyweights in a studio and seeing what is born once the padlock is broken. While sometimes these efforts produce brilliance, randomness and mediocrity are also unfortunate byproducts. 3:16 contains a bit of all three. I wish Murs and 9th had spent a few more meals mapping out “And This Is For.” With Marshall Mathers’ recent racially insensitive statements it was about time someone addressed the “Elvisation” of Hip Hop, which Murs does with exceptional insight. But it just seems the record was a couple brainstorming sessions from reaching its potential.

All in all, this is a quality effort that showcases the ability of disparate members of the indie scene to come together to build industry rather than cash a check.