Playing like a long, impassioned love letter to hip-hop until it swerves at the end, Murs’ collaborative album with producer Ski Beatz comes alive when it’s singing the praises of “Eazy-E” or honoring A Tribe Called Quest with “67 Cutlass,” a new version of the “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo”-style story track. Key cut “Hip Hop and Love” name-checks ATCQ along with MC Lyte and others, all while Beatz’s production tastefully bubbles underneath like some post-disco track from the most fashionable part of Italy. Horns and bluesy guitars are what Beatz brings elsewhere, and it’s a testament to the always entertaining, sometimes enlightening Murs that the album hangs together thanks to his words. Fans worried that he’s laid off the political material should check the killer closer, “Animal Style,” an about-face in tone that leaves the listener decimated and downtrodden with its shocking story.
Love + Rockets, Vol. 1: The Transformation Review
by David Jeffries