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Murs: Murs For President

B

MURS

Album: Murs For President
Label: Warner Bros.

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It's odd to see a rapper like Murs, the Los Angeles indie-label favorite, on such a big label, especially this late in the major-label game. But despite the inclusion of "Time Is Now," which features a guest verse from Snoop Dogg, and some glossier production than usual here and there, Murs For President is pretty much the kind of album its creator might have made for Definitive Jux or Rhymesayers: lots of good, specific, thoughtful lyrics about politics and love (which dominate the album's first and final thirds, respectively) that treat them like everyday concerns rather than grandstanding. But only sometimes is the music up to the standards of the words, such as on the flute-kissed, Scoop Deville-produced "The Science," on which Murs dissects hip-hop's beginnings: "It wasn't always played on every radio station / It was us making the best out of a bad situation / Inner-city schools stopped teaching us instruments / We took turntables, and start flipping it." Still, his narrative skills can keep things interesting, especially on "Think You Know Me," in which Murs inhabits a trio of different characters that society sees as menaces but that he views with more sympathy.