Slug & Murs - Felt      
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written by Ali    
Some things never change. The sun rises in the east, birds fly south for winter, and Slug whines about girls. It's one of those inextricable universal constants. So before going any further, let's just get a few key elements out of the way.

Yeah, you might wonder if on a project like this, someone with a style that is as set as his counterpart would influence Slug's own. And it is. But no matter what, Slug still whines. He still shouts an impassioned "fuck you" to girls that screwed him. If I hear his say he resents what inspires him one more time, I'm going to put a dull #2 pencil through my left ear. And oh yes, as usual, your girl still loves him. However, the combination of Murs' lyrical performance and production by The Grouch of Living Legends gives the album a different feel from Slug's usual style.

A word about the beats: if you're not used to the Living Legends' West coast-style beats, you might give the instrumentals little more than a mediocre rating. The Grouch's production is unique for its laid-back, albeit sometimes repetitive, style. The sounds are undoubtedly interesting, but he seems to fall into the rut of creating one loop and repeating it throughout without any good breaks or bridges. Several tracks are gems, others not as great, but it goes without saying that it's good to see Slug rock over something newer and more upbeat.

Murs. Yes. Murs. I've been a legend fan since day one [yes, literally day one], so maybe I'm biased, but Murs just came so incredibly correct on every track here. I hate to say that Slug's performance was weak, because it wasn't - exactly - and maybe saying Murs carried the album is going a bit far, because it was generally well balanced despite the difference in styles. But goddamn I was really impressed. Yeah, okay, Slug wasn't bad. After "GLU" I wanted to kick him in the head. But it seems as if working with someone with an entirely different style has been good for Sluggo, as he very obviously lightens up and has some fun with a project. The two vibe off each other well, and each track flows as some sort of meeting-point between lovelorn Midwestern wanderer and chilled-out West coast storyteller.

So let's go track for track. Make it simple. The EP opens with "The Two." Pretty straightforward track, beat has some tin-can effect but you can't help nodding the dome piece nonetheless. S + M just flip it straight-up on this one, and it makes for a nice intro. "Aneurysm" comes next … okay now we see the Slug influence. First of all, let me say that Slug should never EVER sing hooks again. If you can call it singing. Aside from that, Murs comes with some surprising fire and emotion that is new to him, but pulls it off quite nicely, showing that there might be something behind the carefree exterior. The pace picks up next with "Hot Bars," probably one of the EP's two best tracks. Grouch's beat here is just gorgeous, with a nicely rolling melody and solid drum kick, and lyrics are totally solid. Because after all, "so what you don't like [them], your girl prolly would." Next track, a spin-off on Suzanne Vega's early 90's hit "Tom's Diner," just lacks. Good concept, but the beat will make your ears bleed a few bars into the song. Luckily, Grouch redeems himself with the next track, "Rick James," employing a soulful sample by the title's namesake. These two verses are probably the best on the EP, with a smooth, polished flow and easygoing story. The only questionable part is the hook, in which Slug and Murs repeat: "Baby // Don't try to save me // People, just let me be // Fucker // I'm not your brother // Step back // Rick James, respect that." I personally am failing to see the point, but if you overlook it, the song is fantastic. The last two cuts, "Another Knight" and "All I Can Do," have a definite tip to the Rhymesayers side. The beats are mediocre at best [see aforementioned comment about boring loops], and the concept is really summed up in: 1] griping about women, and 2] living the life of a drifter tainted by memories of the past and all that typical Slug stuff.

Maybe I sound disenchanted with the Slug side of things here. Okay, I admit it. He made some progress here, and maybe one just needs to accept the fact that his entire persona is made up of whining and womanizing. But it's stale. Murs adds freshness to another Slug record, and it comes off decently but with the same pangs of annoyance at the proverbial rut in which Slug's content is stuck. Slug fans will like it. Murs fans will like it, on condition that they can tolerate slug. It's not bad hip-hop, as long as you leave your preconceived opinions about it at the door.









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