Tracks/Length: 14 tracks, 47 minutes (+2 bonus tracks, “The Strangest” and “Fun-eral”)
Notable Guest Appearances: MDNR (“No More Control”), King Fantastic (“Two Step”), E-40 (“PTSD”), Slug of Atmosphere (“Fun-eral”)
Album Genre/Tone: Hip-Hop, serious topics and positive tones both approached with humor, great variety in instrumentals
Lead Single: “Okey Dog”
Purchase album at Strange Music.
The mythical A+: Pretty much the best eargasm you’ve ever experienced. This is the album you will be listening to when you are sixty and your grandchildren will be judging you for.
A: All you need to appreciate this album is two ears connected to a heart. Whether it’s the deeper message, the prolific beats or memorable lyrics, everybody should be listening to this record.
B: If you like the genre, then you will love this album. You might keep it on repeat for a month, but it will eventually find itself in the bowels of your shuffle list. Hardcore fans of the artist will disagree with this rating, but it can be considered more niche than universally acceptable.
C: There are a solid tracks, but it’s really only worth a few rotations as a complete package. Those not into the genre probably shouldn’t even bother. It’s the musical equivalent of a sad handjob.
D: This album fails, in most aspects, to make a good or lasting impression. However, some out there might find joy in it, if even for only a few songs.
F: The only thing this album is good for is to make your ears bleed. You should steal every copy of this album and throw them all into a fire for a sacrifice ceremony meant to disband the demons living in the CD. And I say steal because it is obviously not worth the money. Or it would make a great gift for your enemies.
History Behind the Album
Perhaps one of the most important things to realize about this album is that it is Murs’ first album under the Strange Music label. Murs’ journey with Strange Music began between 2006 and 2007 when Murs invited the Strange Music crew to perform with him at the “Paid Dues” festival. Little did he know, this event would create valuable partnerships for him. Tech N9ne and the rest of the crew recognized the respect Murs had for Strange Music and Hip-Hop – as well as his skill – and proceeded to fly him out to meet the whole Strange Music crew. Murs was later asked to join Tech on a major tour he was preparing to journey on as sign of mutual respect. Murs recognized the mutual appreciation and had never experienced a true partnership like this throughout his career. After breaking bread with the Strange Music family and turning down a separate, more visible tour, Murs’ journey down the strange road official began. Although Murs did not officially sign with Strange Music until February 2, 2014, the connection was always there.
With this album in particular, it was vital for Murs to make it was self-reflective as possible. With the label approving Murs to have creative control with his album, the rest began to fall into place. The first step to achieving this goal was asking his old homie, “Jessie,” to produce his album and take the album’s sound as close to Murs’ roots as possible. Murs aimed to have this album speak to him personally. Throughout his career, he has had songs which highlight his personal sound; however, none like Have a Nice Life. Murs saw this album as a new start to his career, a new beginning, and a fresh chance to put himself in an album. During an interview with HotNewHipHop, Murs speaks upon his new album by stating, “Basically the duality of the term Have A Nice Life is, it could be a nice way of just wishing someone the best, or it could be a nice way of saying ‘Fuck outta my face’ without saying it. It’s something I’ve used with the police often, and people who fuck up my order at Chick Fil A.” He continued by explained “It’s just me, it’s who I am.” With little press showcasing Strange Music’s addition of Murs’, the album as a whole did not receiving major attention, only being announced just over a month before its release. Murs officially announced his new album on April 14, 2015, and proceeded to drop on May 19, 2015.
What You’re in For
While Murs has made a name for himself throughout the years, most of his career has been spent creating music with others. Whether it’s being part of a group of lyricists (Living Legends, 3 Melancholy Gypsies, The White Mandingos, ¡Mayday!), a single artist (Slug from Atmosphere, Fashawn, Terrace Martin) or his well-chronicled masterpieces with producer 9th Wonder, Murs has not had the opportunity to put out his own sound since his major label debut, MURS for President. Murs hasn’t really been censored or boxed in when it comes to what defines him, but Have A Nice Life is a byproduct of his twenty year career forged in struggle, love and heartbreak.
Most artists go for a specific theme or genre when it comes to a concept record, but this album has so much variety that you there is something for everybody on it. Instead of letting the songs define the type of music on the record, the man that Murs is defines the content of his songs. You can expect social and political commentary, but it’s not the familiar rage that has permeated its way onto most Hip-Hop tracks. The album’s leading single “Okey Dog” is a fresh take on a similar concept, giving kids a way to still show strength without succumbing to the pitfalls of gang violence. Murs comes across like your cool uncle who tries to school you on how to be a man as opposed to the angsty raptivist who wants to burn the world down.
While heavy topics like gang violence and death are discussed (“I Miss Mikey,” “No More Control,” “Woke Up Dead”), the majority of the record is spent on talking about love (“Mi Corazon” is a bi-lingual masterpiece that takes listeners back to their first love) and just… growing old and happy (“Pussy & Pizza”). Some of the songs come across as flat and not very memorable, but it doesn’t derail the experience of the album. Each track can be enjoyed separately (thank you, mp3 players), as the album isn’t really a cohesive experience. It almost feels like 14 tracks that were released separately instead of being created with a singular entity in mind.
One of my favorite aspects about Murs is that, like Slug of Atmosphere, everything he says is clear and concise, making it easier for listeners to connect to the music instead of spending time trying to figure out what he’s saying. The rhyme schemes are very straight-forward; there isn’t much figurative language to his lyrics, but his strength has always been powerful statements and poetic story-telling. However, with no track lasting over four minutes, it’s to be expected that most of the album’s moments would come from the musical arrangement of the album as opposed to complex concepts.
Songs On Repeat
“P.T.S.D.” featuring E-40
Candy Bars: “You really think you know how my people live?/You think you down because you know who Deebo is?/PTSD on my emo shit/Deep down in my heart, where the evil lives.”
During an interview, Murs speaks about his past, and growing up in a rough neighborhood stating how a majority of the time, he feared for his life. Murs mentions how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is something not often spoken about in the black community, because traumatic events are both expected and frequent. Using his own experiences, Murs hopes to reach a wide base with his message.
“No More Control” featuring MNDR
Candy Bars: “If black lives matter, then black lives matter/And the color of the killer shouldn’t even be a factor.”
Murs created this song with the purpose to inspire people to seek change in the black community as well as within the Hip-Hop community. During a press release for the album, Murs states, “’No More Control’ is about not letting the media or powers that be control us or guide us into thinking that the problem is anything other than violence.”
“Black Girls Be Like”
Candy Bars: “Black girls gotta know their worth/And every black girl gotta know this verse.”
The subject matter and vibe of this song are completely not what I expected. Murs LOVES writing songs about girls, and unless they’re romantic, they aren’t usually endearing. However, this breakdancing-inspired sound is an ode to black women and is as empowering as it is dope. It’s genius, because instead of coming across as sappy, “Black Girls Be Like” is an instant B-Boy classic with an amazing message!
“I Miss Mikey”
Candy Bars: “Wanna escape the path that you’re on?/Erasing the pain by waving a wand/Some roll a J, some hit the bong/I let the beat play, then I make a song.”
The loss of Eyedea and Ability rapper Mike Larsen in 2010 hit the Hip-Hop world hard, especially those connected to the Rhymesayers family. Murs’ lament to Eyedea is a wonderfully honest complement to Atmosphere’s “Flicker” off the Southsiders record last year that broadens the sentiment to dealing with the regular loss of his friends.
The Quick and Dirty
Have A Nice Life may not refine Hip-Hop, but it defines the man that Murs has become throughout the years. He’s never been about gang-banging, selling drugs or degrading women, but now his voices against them sound more like a sage’s wisdom than a big brother’s nagging. Murs’ debut with Strange Music is 100% Murs and that’s best for all of us.
Written by Sherif Elkhatib and Evan Lowe