Murs The End of the Beginning

[Def Jux; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: West coast hip-hop, underground hip-hop
Others: Living Legends, Cannibal Ox

Def Jux has created a powerful underground empire in the last three years, releasing near perfect odes to old school and avant-garde hip-hop. If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look. In 2001, first came Cannibal Ox with The Cold Vein, possibly the best release off the entire Def Jux collective. Within the next two years, we have been bombarded by Aesop Rock’s workhorse Labor Days, El-P’s futuristic Fantastic Damage, and Mr. Lif’s hip-hopera, I Phantom. El-P’s vision was simple; destroy the world of underground hip-hop and rise above its mediocrity. Rawkus Records is still feeling his wrath, and many of us have seen how Def Jux has become the little record label that could.

Let’s analyze by taking a look at the game of baseball. Every team builds its offence around the first four batters in the line-up. Def Jux’s team started with a strong lead batter with Cannibal Ox. The second batter, Aesop Rock, advances the runner to second base using his speed and agility.  Then follows the power hitter, El-P, hoping that he will hit one out of the park. And in clean-up position is Mr. Lif, the most talented of the offensive roster.

And now, next up to bat is Murs from the well-known Living Legends. Placed fifth on the roster means that his offensive power is less impressive than the others, right? Not exactly. Yes, The End of the Beginning is not the strongest album to come from Def Jux, but it certainly worthy of all the attention that it gets. Murs has been showing an impressive posture in the hip-hop game and continues to turn heads with his lyrical ability and his quick-speed delivery. The End of the Beginning emphasizes that Murs has the worthiest chance for commercial success. Maybe that is it’s biggest failure.

All of the previous albums mentioned had no probability of crossover exposure. The End of the Beginning seems to accentuate that Def Jux is tired of standing in the shadows of a dark alley. Murs has created an album full of possible singles and hits. The first single “Risky Business” illustrates this desire for stardom by collaborating and resurrecting Shock G and his alter ego, Humpty Hump. Also, the album is full of other guest appearances from El-P, Ant, RJD2, Mr. Dibbs, and Aesop Rock to create the perfect exposure to the Def Jux organization.

The End of the Beginning ’s production is very strong. Murs comes out shining, creating a strong west coast vibe for a gritty east coast label. With El-P behind the entire project, The End of the Beginning is sure to succeed. Lets just hope that The End of the Beginning is not the beginning of the end of Def Jux as hip-hop’s most prolific “underground” record label.

1. You & I
2. Dibbs Did This Shit (Interlude)
3. What Do You Know?
4. The Scuffle
5. Last Night
6. Transitions az a Ridah
7. Happy Pillz
8. Risky Business
9. The Dance
10. God's Work
11. Def Cover
12. Please Leave
13. Sore Losers
14. BT$
15. 18/W a Bullet [Remix]
16. Brotherly Love
17. Got Damned?
18. Done Deal
19. untitled