When Rosie Perez comes to mind, one thinks of the voice and the attitude that at one point defined what Puerto Rican woman stood for. White Men Can’t Jump soon follows in the thought process and then she disappears from the screen and our mind. Fans of Felt waited patiently for the duo to release the title of their latest project. When they settled on another niche actress in Rosie Perez, fans could officially direct their attention to release of the album. With Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez, the underground giants of Slug and Murs finally drop their latest offering to fans. Similar to the album’s name sake the album possesses a lot of attitude with both emcees not afraid to speak their mind, even if it is just about good times and showcasing their immense abilities.
The album starts on a high note with “Protagonists”, a track that both Slug and Murs murder. Aseop Rock drops one of his better efforts and the listener is left eager to dive into the 20 remaining tracks on the album. Unfortunately, the production falters a bit throughout and Murs and Slug don’t seem as comfortable over Aesop production as they did over Ant and The Grouch beats. Every track is a sonic challenge to the emcees and though they never wander off beat or lose focus, the listener can’t help but reminisce on the groups past productions. If the duo attempted to challenge themselves with a producer outside of their comfort zone, they do indeed pass, but not with the high marks that the first two projects were given. They still are able to switch up their flows a dozen times throughout and take ordinary topics and flip them uniquely different, like “Bass For Your Truck.” They still have those moments when you come to the conclusion that they are still two of the best emcees doing it but at times the awkward mix of production and emcee prevent this album from ever being considered great.
With that said, Aesop’s command of drums and organic approach to music is admirable even if it doesn’t translate to perfection. He has his moments behind the boards, “Permanent Standby” could be taught to future producers on how to layer instruments successfully. Even the cowbell in the song has a purpose, and the cut up vocal sample is haunting, breathing even more life into an already great track. Murs and Slug drop arguably one of the best story tracks of the year over the production. Murs spit, “Rescued by two dudes who were suspect / but she was so goddamn gone she didn’t object / They messed around, she was down for the fun and the games / it doesn’t count when she can’t remember none of their names.” Slug continues the same story with the same intensity and personal narrative. It proves to be the best track on the album. Unfortunately this type of work, and chemistry between artist and producer is few and far between in the 21 tracks this album possesses.
Lyrically, the album doesn’t disappoint. Like any Felt effort, or Slug and Murs individual project, lyrics are always on point. There are massive amounts of quotable from both artists. The humor that has been a staple in their art is ever present and connects masterfully with wordplay and ill chemistry. They share the microphone as well as any duo, trading verses, finishing lines, and maintaining energy. This, however, isn’t anything new from the duo, and their inability to take that chemistry and create an album worth of classic cuts is frustrating. Murs brings up a valid point when he rhymes, “Your favorite group that wasn’t even a group to start.” Maybe he meant it in a braggadocios way, but the duo still exists on separate stages and worlds for most of the year. They have a natural connection on the microphone, but like any record, that connection needs to be polished, fine tuned and recreated several times before it becomes timeless.
The album doesn’t have many dull moments, mainly due to the duo’s energy (fitting considering it’s a tribute to high-strung Rosie Perez). With that said, the manic journey that is Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez leaves the listener a bit confused. There are gems that will be considered some of their best work, “Permanent Standby”, “Protagonists”, “Bass For Your Truck”, but it still fails to reach the plateau that the first few projects prompted. Murs and Slug are indeed felt. You can’t help imagine the studio sessions that the duo who make up Felt had with underground giant Aesop Rock as they created A Tribute To Rosie Perez. You can feel the fun and passion that exists in each track and you can sense each artist pushing their own envelope. When it succeeds, it’s fresh and when it fails, well, they at least had fun trying.