Murs

Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition

While producer 9th Wonder and rapper Murs have taken different paths throughout their careers, they've both emerged near the top of the underground rubble. The latter slung his everyman, confessional lyrics for years in the Bay Area basement before signing to Def Jux in 2003; the former was catapulted to fame after premiering the calculatedly nostalgic sounds of hip hop trio Little Brother on the Internet message board Okayplayer.com, thus capturing the ear of the Roots' drummer, ?uestlove. Little Brother was quickly signed, and like a cyber-Cinderella, 9th found himself making beats for Jay-Z's swan song, The Black Album.Although they may have traveled different roads to success -- one through the streets, the other through the Internet -- the artists' intersection on Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition proves enjoyable, albeit old-fashioned.

On 3:16 Murs is alternately confessional, contradictory, and confrontational. "And This Is For" finds him taking on racism within the hip hop community: "What's the reason that my album doesn't sell like his?/ Don't front like you don't know why the hell that is." And while many modern MCs flaunt their contradictions, Murs revels in paradox more than most: On "The Pain" he confesses his shortcomings with the ladies, admitting that he's "more Coldplay than Ice-T"; while on "Freak These Tales" he comes "off tour and got some stories to tell," namely of groupies. Still, Murs seems genuine despite the apparent inconsistencies, and his rarely wavering flow and throwback style -- which favors emotional and narrative nuances over acrobatic linguistics and enunciation -- are compelling.

Details

The Perceptionists (featuring Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, and DJ Fakts One) and SA Smash open

As part of the Definitive Jux Tour

Wednesday, April 14, at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $16 in advance, $18 at the door

255-0333

www.sli ms-sf.com

Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F.

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9th Wonder's production occupies the sweet spot between DJ Premier's chopped-up technique and Pete Rock's fuller soul loops, although on 3:16 he seems to increasingly drift toward the former. The hard drums and shivering atmospherics of "The Animal" sound cold and looming, while "H-U-S-T-L-E" and "Walk Like a Man" swagger with a delicious funk step. Most important, 9th's production perfectly matches his MC's technique, and Murs' sinner/saint pose even bears a close resemblance to DJ Premier's Gang Starr partner, Guru. Truth be told, 9th and Murs are the equivalent of hip hop comfort food: familiar and easily digestible. But 3:16is evidence that old formulas still work.

 
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