Murs & 9th Wonder: Murrays Revenge

Michael Frauenhofer

Murs proves himself better than your favorite rapper on ten more 9th Wonder loops, post-beard, post-profanity, still dope.

Murs & 9th Wonder

Murray's Revenge

Label: Record Collection
US Release Date: 2006-03-21
UK Release Date: 2006-03-20
iTunes affiliate

Murs is one of those rappers who has been around for just about forever and pretty much never gotten the credit he deserves. It's certainly not from a lack of self-confidence -- the guy sells "Murs is better than your favorite rapper" t-shirts, for god's sake -- but in 2004, eight albums into a perpetually underground career, his frustration was, I would venture, understandable. Then came a phone call from 9th Wonder, the suddenly-a-lot-less-underground North Carolina producer fresh off of selling the "Threat" beat to Jay-Z. They'd been talking about making an album together, and luckily for hip-hop, 9th isn't the type to desert his less-famous friends after a big break. When their collaboration 3:16 -- The 9th Edition dropped, it was ten tracks of unbelievably brilliant soul beats and strong rapping that became a critical smash and a cult hit, even inspiring a film project, Walk Like a Man. Now that two years have passed, Murs and 9th Wonder are back with an eagerly-anticipated follow-up, Murray's Revenge, ten more tracks of trademark Murs rhymes and those Fruity Loops beats from 9th.

The album begins in a grand fashion with the majestic strings and triumphant vocal sampling of "Murs Day", a tightly anthemic two-minute refresher course on why "Murs rules the world". He rides the beat perfectly, delivering lines like "Everything I flow's an anthem / A&Rs who slept on now throwing a tantrum" in a powerfully raw baritone. When he declares without a hint of hesitation that "3:16 was genius", you don't doubt it for a second.

From here the album stays consistently strong, but doesn't really reach any higher level. 9th Wonder's production is always on point, ranging from "really good" to "even better", but it's not quite on the plane of his work on 3:16; where that album had at least eight or nine beats that were instant classics, from the acid-guitar growl of "Intro" to the street anthem "H-U-S-T-L-E" to the soul-banger study in contrast of "3:16" (at points even changing beats within tracks to fit the tone of Murs's verses), Revenge's production is undeniably great but not really as memorable. 9th Wonder is still the biggest reason that tracks like "L.A." work on the level they do, contributing what is possibly the first (or at least the jauntiest) harmonica banger in the history of hip-hop, but there are only three or four real classics here. Which is, admittedly, still far more than the vast majority of other hip-hop albums can claim, and 9th more than earns his co-credit this time around.

Murs holds up his end of the bargain just as well, offering up more of his signature blend of raw toughness, conscious humanity, and street storytelling. He's changed and matured over the years since 3:16, toning down the more sexually explicit aspects and forgoing profanity for Murray's Revenge (allegedly at the request of his mother). But he has another relationship-gone-sour track ("Silly Girl" for "Bad Man!"), another here's-how-it-went-down-on-my-block track ("Barbershop" for "H-U-S-T-L-E"), another great story rap ("Dreamchaser" for "Walk Like a Man"), and another complex examination of racial issues ("D.S.W.G." for "And This Is For..."). In many respects, Revenge feels less like a sequel to 3:16 than a continuation. "Dreamchaser" is a highlight, Murs offering an all-too-well-informed view into the mindset of a troubled kid growing up wrong, seemingly autobiographical at first until it slowly slips into the realm of fiction. "Yesterday & Today", on the other hand, is unusually beautiful, Murs laying down his life's course over an absolutely sublime mix of Hollywood strings, soul vocals, and tiny swoops of flute: the rhythm of the chorus is absolutely predictable and yet still entirely irresistable.

The only problem, then, is that Murray's Revenge simply lacks the instant-classic feel of 3:16. Where his first album with 9th was like a rebirth, a mid-career Illmatic of 30 minutes of pure, sweet hip-hop, this album feels like a great but not-quite-the-same addition to the legacy, the DangerDOOM to 3:16's Madvillain. It's still more than worth the price tag, it's still one of the best hip-hop albums of the underground so far this year, but which disc will we be talking about five years from now?





Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".


On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.


Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.


That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.


Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.


Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.


Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.


'Thor: Ragnorak' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.


Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.


Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings Team for Wonderfully Sparse "Where Or When" (premiere)

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings' "Where Or When" is a wonderfully understated performance that walks the line between pop and jazz.


Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.