I got Fornever because I really want to like Murs. He seems to get that content matters in hip-hop and he strives (for the most part) to avoid the standard rap clichés about how gangsta he is. He even raps about being a vegetarian on “Live from Roscoe’s”, a move that I’m sure has relegated him to the “faggot” department in the eyes of some of his less enlightened hip-hop brethren (I’m not a missionary vegetarian. In fact, I’m not a vegetarian at all, but I don’t hear a lot of rappers kicking rhymes about how they don’t eat meat, so I think it’s worth mentioning). But recognizing the need for something new and/or different is not the same as actually being able to provide it yourself. I recognize that the Minnesota Vikings need to force Brett Favre back into retirement and get a new quarterback, but I can’t fill that job myself. So I can only give Murs so much credit for recognizing that a lot of hip-hop is not as awesome as it should be; and I could give him a lot more credit if he made compelling hip-hop himself.
Fornever starts off okay with its title track, in which Murs and 9th Wonder tell you how great they are. This is something all hip-hop people do; DOOM is the only guy I can think of who has as many self-deprecating tracks as he does bragging ones. But after “Fornever”, the album goes on a run of truly cringe-inducing songs. Track two is a mindless ode to crappy convenience stores but it starts to sound worthy of a Madvillain record when you consider the two fuck-awful tunes that come next. “Asian Girl” and “Let Me Talk” are two of the worst hip-hop songs I have ever heard. “Asian Girl” has a repetitive, annoying chorus but is at least earnest in its multiculturalism. “Let Me Talk,” however, is a song about a dude arguing with his woman, blaming her temper on the fact that she is apparently currently menstruating. So maybe I should take back some of that stuff I said about how Murs recognizes the need for more intelligent hip-hop. I’m goddamn sick of comedians, rappers, and any other guys bitching about how rough it is when their wife or girlfriend has PMS. I’ve lived with a woman for the last six years and the only thing that changes before and during her period is that she’s in fucking pain. What kind of nutless fuckwit has the gall to complain about the slightest bit of ill temper when his mate is spending the week bleeding from her goddamn vagina? I’m tired of guys who have never experienced anything close to menstruation or childbirth thinking it’s funny or cool to blame their problems with women on the woman’s menstrual cycle. And before you call me a hypocrite, I nearly bled to death from an ulcer in my colon when I was 19. So when it comes to uncomfortable bleeding, I’ve got some fucking credibility. And the next time some I hear some caveman mumble about how a woman is “on the rag” I’m gonna tear his dick off and slap him with it. Then, I’m gonna sew it back on. But I’m gonna come back and rip it off every 28 days just to make sure he gains the necessary perspective.
The only lady Murs seems to really get on with is a girl named Hip-Hop and he reveals his love for her in the trite as fuck “I Used to Love Her (Again).” Astute listeners will figure out that the “Her” in the song is Hip-Hop by about minute number three. The gimmick is bad enough, but the other problem I have with “I Used to Love Her (Again)” is that it treats hip-hop like some kind of damsel in distress and Murs announces that he’s gonna “take her back.” And do what with her, exactly? You were just rapping about the correlation between menstrual blood and the number of nights per month you spend sleeping on the couch. Besides, declaring that you’re going to save your chosen genre of music (or “take it back”) is as meaningless as declaring yourself the voice of your generation. Get on with the work of making great music and you won’t have to worry about whether the music needs “saving.” Besides, sending Fornever to take back hip-hop is as effective as sending America to save South Vietnam from communism (too soon?).
Sadly, “I Used to Love Her (Again)” is not the most trite, obvious song on Fornever. That dubious honor goes to “West Coast Cinderella” which chronicles the adventures of Cindy and her welfare-defrauding step-sisters. The story goes the way you might expect but instead of losing a shoe at the ball, Cindy is beaten into a coma by her step-sisters. Her dude says some movie-of-the-week shit about how they can make it together, she wakes up, and then they fucking pray and everything is all better. I wish this song was a person so I could punch it in the face.
Most of Fornever is mediocre, some of it is fucking terrible, but one song is genuinely good. “The Problem Is” is a pretty obvious track about the current state of the union, but it’s also the most lively tune on the album. Murs’s delivery is flawless, aggressive, and angry – he finally sounds a little worked up about something when he’s worrying about where things are headed. I’m not saying that Murs’s next album should be ten political tracks, but it’s clear from “The Problem Is” that he gets more fired up about some subjects than others and he sounds much much better when he’s fired up.
I still don’t believe that hip-hop needs saving, but the contrast between the hip-hop I’ve heard this year and the other stuff I’ve heard is jarring. Atmosphere has made the only listenable hip-hop record I’ve heard in 2010 and we’re eleven and a half months in. Perhaps DOOM, Brother Ali, and Pharoahe Monch will all make albums in 2011 (a quick Google search has revealed what Futurama’s Professor Farnsworth would call “good news, everybody”: Monch’s W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) is slated for a February 2011 release. Sadly, it was supposed to drop this year. Gladly, there is a single available on E-Music. It’s called “Shine.” I’ll review it shortly) and things will recalibrate slightly. Or maybe I’m just missing some great hip-hop.
Wow. I’ve thought so much about good hip-hop that I completely forgot about Fornever. That should tell you all you need to know, yeah?