Of all the rap super-duos of the past year or so – Yeezy and Hov, Gucci and Waka, Danny Brown and Black Milk, Royce da 5’9” and Eminem – this one, between Murs and Fashawn, might actually make the most sense. Both MCs are from California, they’re both decidedly underground without carrying any of the elitism that sometimes comes with that distinction, and they both have a penchant for revering the ghosts of hip hop past while and recognizing what’s alive in hip hop today. All told, these things lend This Generation, the pair’s first collaborative album, a dynamic that could have worked as well in ’96 as it does in 2012 (and as it would in, say, 2022). There’s one thing you can’t say about Ferrari Boyz.
Having Fash here to share the limelight tends to take Murs’s trademark long-form storytelling out of the picture, so the battle-ready disses (“Last time you seen a check was on your SBs”) and not-so-humble brags (“Champagne by the liter/ No limit on the Visa”) show up on the album noticeably more than they have on these guys’ previous outings. That’s not to say the songs don’t have themes – from the where-I’m-from “Peace Treaty” to the what’s-going-on “Heartbreaks and Handcuffs”, some of them blatantly do – but you certainly won’t get anything as political as, say, Murs’s 2008 “The Science”. Is that a problem? Conceivably – if the listener’s backpack straps are too tight.
Both Murs and Fash have traditionally favored a dusty, sample-heavy sound, but here everything is slicker, even sounding like they got a live band in there. “64 Impala” has those liquid bass lines and portamento synth squeezes that sound just great next to something like “Gin and Juice”, while the title track has a straight-outta-Mumbai vocal loop nestled with a rhythm section whose tones sound sliced straight from a top-shelf Motown single. Finding a golden sampled hook like the ones in Murs’s “Bad Man!” or Fash’s “Samsonite Man” is unlikely, but the inconspicuous beats – entirely handled by Beatnick and K-Salaam – do the best work in the background. It’s usually best to let the guys out front bring the most noise, anyway.
If there’s been one problem with both Murs and Fash over the years it’s that neither drifts far from his respective comfort zone. That continues here, and “audacious” is maybe the last word you’d use in describing these songs. But while the highs (“64 Impala”, “Slash Gordan”) could be higher, the lows aren’t actually all that low. As far as full-length rap collabos go, you could do much worse than this.
Essential Tracks: “64 Impala”, “Slash Gordan”