Musical collaborations tend to go one of two ways – either they become stale over time or they evolve to become richer and deeper than before. Happily for Murs and 9th Wonder, the latter is decidedly the case. It has now been fifteen years since the two first collaborated together on Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition and over the course of the five albums they’ve put out during that period both artists have become wonderfully attuned to each other.
In doing the promo for this latest release Murs has made no secret that The Iliad is Dead and the Odyssey is Over has been a prolonged labour of love. Although it’s probably unwise to bet against more collaborations in the future, both the title and the album itself feel like it is the culmination of a lengthy journey which now finds both Murs and 9th Wonder in a more mature, mellow phase of their lives.
The joy of listening to the The Iliad is that, aside from one misstep, it feels like a fully rounded project. It’s the kind of cohesive album that comes when people have something to say and a clear vision of how they wanted to do it. This is especially true of 9th Wonder who, alongside his fifteen-year-old daughter JDEAFBEATS, produces a near-flawless performance over the twelve tracks. Although the style switches frequently, every beat feels well-placed and guides you from one track to the next.
Meanwhile The Iliad finds Murs switching between a more reflective mood on tracks like ‘Give Me A Reason’ and ‘Night Shift’ and the bombastic rapper we’ve known for years on ‘Ga$ Station Gucci Belt’ and ‘Super Cujo Bros.’ Throughout all twelve tracks there are plenty of hard-hitting lines. On ‘Night Shift’ Murs talks about different types of music, saying ‘there’s the shit you listen to, and the shit you quote’ – this album has an ample supply of both.
Albums that flip back and forth like this can often end up feeling disjointed and so it’s a credit to Murs that this doesn’t feel like the case at all. The sole exception is the barely half-baked ‘Unicorn Glitter’ which sadly undercuts a lot of the better sexual politics on the album with some shoddy and ham-fisted rhymes about vaginal equality. It’s by far and away the worst track of the bunch and its jarring awfulness is only compounded when set against the consistency of the rest.
The Iliad saves the best for last however, closing with the stellar ‘SIN’. On ‘SIN’, Murs tells the story of a man caught in an unhappy marriage and tempted away by another woman. Murs has always had a gift for a good story track but ‘SIN’ has to be in the conversation for the very best. It culminates in a heart-breaking third verse that moves you every single time. Even with five months of the year still to go, it’s a lock to make my top tracks of 2019. If this is the final track we get from Murs and 9th Wonder, they’ve gone out on an incredible high.
Album Rating: Highly Recommended (4 Stars)
Poor: 0-2 Stars / Favourable: 2-4 Stars / Highly Recommended: 4-5 Stars