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Murs The End of the Beginning

Definitive Jux gets almost rootsy on the debut solo joint from Murs of the Living Legends crew. The LA rap veteran keeps it traditional without resorting to old-school clichés: the production here (from El-P, Shock G, Atmosphere's Ant and others) bubbles with overheated horns, virgin drum breaks and vintage funk so raw you'd swear it was an RJD2 record. The real pleasure, though, is Murs' lyricism, which combines an unhurried, conversational flow with a confidence so solid he needn't resort to boasting. A documentarist with no taste for glamour or gore, he represents realism with the restraint of a trained reporter. "Tales like Last Night" ("Last night I almost got shot on my block") mourn the state of the black urban experience without indulging in sensationalism, over melancholic beats that suggest that as long as the crates are deep and the pencils sharpened, there's redemption to be found in every groove.

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