Four years after he released the unsatisfying and scattershot He's Keith Murray and got himself kicked off Def Jam for allegedly strangling a street team member, the rapper who can't be controlled returned with a solid effort that finishes a very close second behind his stunning debut, The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World. With executive producer, longtime associate and brother in Def Squad, Erick Sermon, Keith Murray's Rap-Murr-Phobia (The Fear of Real Hip-Hop) looks outright like a down and dirty return to form that just doesn't give a damn, but it's not. With guest star Tyrese and a mention of P. Diddy, the smooth roller "Nobody Do It Better" sounds anxious to shake hands with radio while "Weeble Wobble" contains an incredibly friendly hook that could easily spawn a line dance craze followed by mega uploads -- "me and my friends doing the Weeble Wobble" -- to video sharing sites. Close your eyes and you can see the moody, black and white video the soulful "Do" deserves, while "Something Like a Model" woos the ladies with Junior's sweet croon and syrupy strings. While "Model" is just good enough, the rest of the polish works beautifully and is remarkably woven in between all the chilly, unforgiving hip-hop that is Murray's "notion for murderous poetry in motion" at its best. Not since his debut has he sounded so sure, so inspired, and filled with that "raw dog passion" that "Whatmakean***athinkdat" speaks of over Sermon's crooked beat. Sermon and Redman show up for an excellent Def Squad reunion called "U Ain't Nobody" and if an important part of any Murray full-length is that un-PC humor, then the he said/ho said "Never Did S***" nails it. In the end it turns out the subtitle of the album isn't aimed at any artist getting paid with slick hits but at the Sharptons, the Jacksons and the Oprahs who look at Murray's language and outlook as unforgivable. Looking at it that way, this "don't hate the player, hate the game" album may be even more subversive since it refuses to be banished to the ignorable underground. You can say a lot about the controversial man who declares himself "tainted," but you can't say Rap-Murr-Phobia is anything but a well-crafted and fascinating menace to society.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Toneo Capone
feat: Kell Vicious