Now, on his Def Jux debut, The End of the Beginning, Murs finally gets the polished beats he deserves, courtesy of producers Shock G of Digital Underground, Blockhead, Sunspot Jonz, and Atmosphere's Ant. On "I Know," sweeping soul music samples cradle the MC's smooth vocal delivery, while on "The Dance," El-P rubs drum breaks against synth fissions for an effect that's hypnotic and disquieting. On the latter tune, Murs experiments with his normally languid vocal style, speeding up his cadence to match the dizzying double-time assault.
But the rapper's real accomplishment is matching his rhythmic virtuosity to lyrics that interweave the mundane and the traumatic. With simple rhyme schemes and plain language, Murs explores the debilitating horror of random violence on "Last Night" while grappling with the tedium of menial labor on "God's Work." On the melancholic "I Know," Murs creates conflict by understanding both sides, rapping, "I know a man's not a man if he has to beat his woman/ I know she'll push you to the point where you feel she has it coming."
At a time when most hip hop artists engage in either self-mythologizing or verbose materialism, Murs is willing to deal with issues that actually affect his audience. This may be The End of the Beginning, but it could also mark the genesis of a legendary career.