Reviews: Keith Murray - Rap-Murr-Phobia

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Keith Murray
Released by Koch

On his fifth solo record Rap-Murr-Phobia, Keith Murray addresses the “Fear of Hip-Hop” and proves—13 years since his debut was released—that he is still his grimy, linguistically-gifted self. Aggressive, braggadocio-style raps denouncing shady folk (both industry and non) and chronicling the hunt for snitches enliven (surprisingly) sub-par Erick Sermon beats. It’s clear Murray’s not happy about something. Rapp-Murr-Phobia is a manifestation of that disillusionment, both of the rap industry (think: “Hip-hop is dead”) and those outside, pointing fingers at the rap industry. Defiant in the face of the latter, Murray’s use of profanity or violent imagery doesn’t abate on tracks like the chainsaw-wielding “Last Night” or “WhatMakeANiggaThinkThat” (where Murray brags “Homicide style/niggas know how I be killin’ it”). Oddly enough, since this is done largely within a lyrically dexterous context, it seems less inappropriate than some of the more non-sensical hip-hop acts of today—but that’s your discretion.

“Do” is one of the better tracks on the album where Murray chronicles his daily grind hustling crack. “Fuck a 9 to 5/My job is sellin’ crack” raps Murray while laughing at baseheads trying to pawn VCRs for drugs. But wisecracks and upbeat production don’t disguise the bleak autobiographical relevancy behind “Do” and tracks like “Hustle On” where Murray states “I ain’t chose hustlin’/Hustlin’ chose me.” Both the Def Squad reunion (“U Ain’t Nobody”) and the Method Man cameo (“What It Is”) are pretty standard except for the brief moments of nostalgia that they, along with a Tyrese-hook (“Nobody Do It Better”), invoke.

At times the beats sound overly produced—harder, more street, production would fit better with Murray’s husky flow. However, from a lyrical, story-telling standpoint Rapp-Murr-Phobia is dope. Murray cleverly rebukes and rants over the course of the record (“Weeble Wobble” is another favorite) reminding rap fans that emceeing shouldn’t be taken lightly and naysayers that, regardless of whether or not they find the content offensive, poetics are the essence of hip-hop.

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