Today's West Coast hip-hop landscape is one of the most vibrant and varied the game has ever seen, encompassing a dizzying array of eras, styles and sounds. On their brand new collaborative debut, This Generation, Cali underground favorites MURS and Fashawn join forces to document our musical moment and synthesize its various strands into something new. Heralded by single "Slash Gordon" as well as that of the LP's title track, the set finds the emcees partnering with Booth-acclaimed beat duo K-Salaam & Beatnick, who eschew sampling in favor of original compositions influenced by everything from '90s G-Funk to hard rock.
No guests appear on the project--according to Fash, recruiting additional collaborators would have been like "...overseasoning a perfect dish." This Generation is available for purchase on iTunes, via Duck Down Music.
This Generation Album Review
That means that the duo’s new album, This Generation, may just be hip-hop’s first truly cross-generational collaborative album ever. Thankfully though, This Generation is so well-made that we can choose to view it as an album featuring the merging of generations, or an album simply featuring two dope west coast emcees doing the damn thing. Take your pick.
While there may be ten years between them, MURS and Fashawn have far more in common than they have differences. Or to use MURS’ own words in the intro to The Other Side, “When we first started this project, me and Fash really didn’t know each other too well / but as we started coolin in the studio…I realized, you really on some hood shit.” That, MURS, is an excellent point. Both emcees are often given the backpack rapper label because they rhyme about more than just the streets, but that doesn’t mean they’ve left the streets. That theme comes up throughout This Generation as Other Side details both rapper's struggle to be their own, mutli-faceted selves in the face of a public eager to box them in. Similarly, And It Goes is as gritty as it gets, giving us a view of a life spent just inches away from death, as does Reina de Barrio, a love song that replaces roses and chocolates with cartels and arrests. But the best proof that Murs and Fash can ride with the best of them is ’64 Impala, an appropriately smooth and west coast soaked cut not afraid to declare, “F**k a 600 Benz, give me a ’64 Impala.” Make no mistake, they may be intelligent, but MURS and Fashawn will still lay you out…intelligently.
But that doesn’t mean that some real sonic ground isn’t broken on This Generation. The title track finds duo Beatnik & K-Salaam, who produced the entire project, bringing in elements of pop and reggae for an irresistibly good times cut, a blueprint they flip again on Slash Gordan, which also bears the distinction of finding the two emcees trading bars in classic cypher fashion. I’d also throw Peace Treaty, a cut that manages to delve into inner-city violence without either glorifying or preaching, into this group of cuts that aren't afraid to aim higher than your average offering. MURS and Fashawn have separately distinguished themselves as emcees that can walk the fine line between embracing their individuality without losing touch with their collective identity, so it’s only right that effect is doubled on This Generation.
We can learn a lot from This Generation: that hardship can fuel creativity, that sometimes two is better than one, that it’s possible to elevate above the streets while still staying grounded. But perhaps the most powerful lesson is that dope hip-hop can’t be contained to any one generation. Music this good transcends chronology, so whether you’re 85 (what up grandma?), just getting your driver’s license or anywhere between, you’re all welcome into This Generation.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins