Murs – Love and Rockets, Volume 1: The Transformation

written by: October 20, 2011
Release Date: October 11th, 2011


Emerging from the hip-hop underground in the late-1990s, Los Angeles’ Murs has become a bastion of the independent rap world. Since the release of F’Real way back in 1997, Murs has released several full-lengths and done numerous collaborations—a great deal of it on his own terms. His latest release, Love and Rockets, Volume 1: The Transformation sees Murs team up with Ski Beatz to create an album that exemplifies the strongest traits of both artists.

Wasting little time, the duo dives headfirst with jagged, biting beats as Murs displays how strong of a flow he’s developed. “Epic Salutations” not only brings the listener in, but it also sets the tone for the rest of Love and Rockets. Murs effortlessly jumps from topic to topic—including a rather unexpected hop to Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase—and Ski Beatz adds subtle flourishes that keep the track from becoming stagnant.

As the album progresses, Murs focuses his rhymes, building story archs around Ski Beatz’s production. “Remember 2 Forget” is a break-up song that opens with Murs posing the question, “Do you ever wish you had amnesia/Like you could forget/Whoever it was that ruined it for everyone else?/That one person/if you could just forget them/Like, you would have a happier life.” It’s not uncommon for Murs to deal with such subject matter, and because of this he’s often been labeled as “emo rap.” It would be unfair to label Murs as such given the diverse range of topics he’s covered, but his capabilities to easily tap into an emotional core have always been one of his strongest qualities.

Throughout the course of Love and Rockets, Murs uses his songs to create vignettes for his audience. However, this approach yields mixed results.

While he’s a capable stroyteller, the subject matter covered in “67 Cutlass” comes off incredibly clichéd. It’s a tale of drug dealing, cop killing, and other well-worn ground. It’s not to say that Murs doesn’t fully create the scene and see it through; it’s the lack of character development, or new and engaging twists, that leaves the track lifeless.

It is on “Animal Style” when Murs is able to take his storytelling and songwriting to a new level. The track builds tension slowly, thanks in large part to Murs’ delivery and Ski Beatz’s tense production. As the song moves to its climax, it keeps the listener in suspense about how the story will unfold, and when the last verse drops, it hushes listeners in its wake.

Love and Rockets doesn’t break much new ground for Murs, but it also doesn’t see him retreading the same path he’s taken before. Together, Murs and Ski Beatz have proven a solid team; one adeptly accents the other. However, Love and Rockets suffers from not seeing the duo step outside of their respective comfort zones. It’s a strong effort but with enough weak spots to keep it from being a true transformation for either of them.

Murs – Love and Rockets, Volume 1: The Transformation tracklist:

1. “Epic Salutations”
2. “Remember 2 Forget”
3. “’67 Cutlass”
4. “Eazy-E”
5. “Hip Hop and Love”
6. “International”
7. “S-k-i-b-e-a-t-z”
8. “Westside Love”
9. “Life and Time”
10. “Reach Hire”
11. “Dream On”
12. “316 Ways”
13. “Animal Style”