Murs

Captain California

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AllMusic Review by

Murs' tenth solo LP is more of the same from the California rapper, which is to say Captain California is a wonderfully engrossing ride through dense lyrical storytelling and chunky beats. His second release for Strange Music, it's a lighter affair than what the label is used to promoting, opting for winsome nostalgia and mostly affable tales from the city. On the humorous side, "Lemon Juice" is one of the funniest in Murs' songography, a diss-trading battle with his friend Curtiss King that trades zinger after zinger in the spirit of Positive K's "I Got a Man" and Brandy and Monica's "The Boy Is Mine." As Murs cracks "Now if Curtiss was a Jedi, his light saber would be clear/That means nonexistent like his fuckin' rap career," King swipes back with an even deeper cut about Murs' own "saber" shortcomings. It's refreshing attitudes and topics like these that have always set Murs apart from the pack, especially his undying devotion to nerdery and pop culture. Like his 2003 gem about spending his stacks on action figures, "BT$," Murs lets his geek flag fly by dropping references to Star Wars, Harry Potter, X-Men, the Thundercats, and more. Whether channeling the power of the impervious Russian metal-man on the dope-slinging cautionary tale "Colossus" or making romantic declarations to his lady by comparing her to Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel on the sweet "1000 Suns," Murs' clever allusions only make Captain California -- a childhood alter ego -- that much more enjoyable. As with any Murs' album, the charm offensives are well-balanced with more somber observations from the streets. "GBKW" reigns supreme, both as the strongest story told on Captain California and as the album's most poignant addition to Murs' collection of socially conscious yarns. Serious like "PTSD" but not as soul-crushing as "Animal Style," the moving highlight "GBKW (God Bless Kanye West)" tells the tale of a young man struggling to do the right thing in an environment designed to destroy him against the backdrop of its namesake's own personal battles. Guests like Krizz Kaliko, Rexx Life Raj, Reverie, and Big Too Big are entertaining foils for Murs to verbally spar and gel with, with Beleaf and Krizia Bajos' "Animals Damnit" standing out as one of the more exciting, subwoofer-friendly songs on Captain California. While the album might be "business as usual" for Murs, that's purely a good thing. Two decades into the game and he's endearing, insightful, and sharp as ever.

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