P.O.S. :: Chill, dummyDoomtree RecordsAuthor: Patrick TaylorI've been a fan of Stefon "P.O.S." Alexander since his debut nearly 10 years ago. On "Audition" and 2009's "Never Better," he proved himself to be one of the few artists who could successfully meld punk rock and hip-hop. Fellow Minnesotans ….
On his major label debut, indie rapper Murs — known for his clever, humorous rhymes about the everyday man — sets out to save hip-hop from senseless debauchery. Yet while the politically charged Murs for President is lyrically sharp, its production zigzags with incongruously corny pop samples (like the Green Hornet theme on ”Lookin’ Fly”). Murs fares best when paired with producer 9th Wonder (Little Brother), whose soulful tracks light fire under Murs’ husky voice.
A West Coast veteran enters the race.“Don’t ever let the fact that you can’t be perfect stop you from doing your best,” pleads Murs on "I’m Innocent," Murs for President’s first track. “At least I’m trying.” And try he does. In his freewheeling major label debut, Murs stays consistent by retreading old turf like racism, love and rap’s artistic bankruptcy.
With a major-label contract on the line (not to mention that presumptive presidential nomination), Murs was obviously ready to put his best foot forward -- and yes, Murs for President is just as ambitious as the title indicates. With a parade of tracks -- message tracks, lovers tracks, just-hanging tracks, back-in-the-day tracks, treat-her-like-a-queen tracks, political-outrage tracks, comeback tracks (subtitled "Half a Million Dollars and 18 Months Later"), life-on-the-road tracks -- Murs apparently wants to be all things to all rap fans (not a bad quality in someone hungry for higher office). Such a variety of themes isn't new for the underground's most ambitious rapper; it's only appropriate for one of the best tale-spinners in hip-hop, a West Coaster who once looked up to fellow storytellers E-40 and Ice Cube.
Murs probably wouldn't get elected on a change platform. His major-label debut after years on Def Jux feels status quo for the most part, and new labelmates will.i.am and Snoop only dilute his product with lazy cameos. But there's still much to admire about Mur's campaign to turn on some heads. The song Everything, for example, glides with crisp beats (mixed by DJ Quik) and even manages to utilize a James Blunt sample effectively.