Writing about a listening session at a Los Angeles clothing store is about as exciting as detailing the events of a family birthday party. While the music is playing, it's great to catch up with familiar faces over free drinks, but there's very little insight to offer those that didn't attend. Who wants to look at pictures of grandma opening her presents next to a cheese-grilling DJ Rhettmatic?
A bigger challenge arises when the unveiling of an anticipated record is the center of such events. The reason that 100 people gathered at La Brea clothing store And Still on a Friday night (other than the free drinks) was the third collaborative LP from L.A. rapper Murs and North Carolina super-producer 9th Wonder, ForNever, coming out March 30 on SMC Recordings. Unfortunately, because everyone was busy chatting and drinking and the soundsystem was far from perfect, there wasn't too much listening at this listening session.
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Plenty of people heard Murs' superhero combination of get-girls humor and sociopolitical proclamations, but it's not an amicable situation to truly digest new music. What comes through instead are brief flashes that turn into bookmarks for when ForNever leaks onto The Internets some time this month. There was the unnamed song with a hook about "cigarettes and liquor" that seemed to capture the best of Murs' FELT collaborations with Slug -- without actually featuring the Atmosphere front man -- by getting the party started and enjoying the shit out of his efforts. Or maybe it was an indictment of tobacco and alcohol companies... it was kind of hard to tell.
Then there was Murs and 9th's follow-up to Common's classic hip-hop-as-lady-friend metaphor, "I Used to Love H.E.R" -- featured in the video above. Murs doesn't so much as update the 1994 staple as he covers it, aided by a loop from 9th Wonder that might even out-jazz the original. That final flash from last night's listening session came from the ForNever lead single, "The Problem Is."
Featuring Sick Jacken and Uncle Chucc, "The Problem Is" succeeds with big epic strings and a heart-heavy hook. Murs spends his time addressing the world's problems mostly by attacking capitalism and the inevitable evils it carries. Psycho Realm's Sick Jacken then questions the balance between guns and education while "not preaching, [and] just giving you the real 24." It's a memorable track on an album that should shape up to be one of the year's best indie rap albums and you can download "The Problem Is" right there, should you want to listen. If you just want to hear it, however, you'll need to wait until the next party at a clothing store.