It’s currently raining in Los Angeles, but that isn’t exactly what this city is known for. In general, Los Angeles is “known for the surf and shine,” as Murs points out on “The Problem Is,” the first single off of his latest album, Fornever, with 9th Wonder. Yes, it’s the duo yet again, at it for the fourth time. But this album is different from the others that the two have released. This time, they chose to record the entire project in L.A. (as opposed to Durham, North Carolina) and they’ve got the results to prove it.
Unique to the Murs and 9th saga, this album starts off with Tha Dogg Pound’s Kurupt, a sure sign of the California influence. Next, Verbs meets Murs on “The Lick,” a tribute to the hood’s liquor stores from Mid City’s Mr. Carter. Yet another important left coast feature follows with the often witty and outrageous Suga Free on “Let Me Talk.” And of course, failing to mention Sick Jacken’s appearance on the album’s lead single, “The Problem Is,” would be criminal, since the track provides the most sinister cut on the album, a definite stand out. If that weren’t enough, Kurupt returns with even more bars to finish the album on “Live from Roscoe’s.” With all of the stellar features, Murs isn’t lost in the shuffle. He’s directing traffic, with imaginative tales (“Westcoast Cinderella”) and lyrics about love, loss (“Vikki Veil”) and real life (“Chaos, calamity, extreme insanity/Communities collapse, destruction of families.”)
But the Living Legend isn’t alone in directing here. 9th Wonder is still quite the conductor. Rarely straying from his comfort zone proves beneficial. Soulful samples are flipped and chopped as 9th works his usual magic for Murs and guests throughout. The mellow “Live from Roscoe’s” is a strong jazzy groove, perfect for driving down a freeway with the windows down, whenever the weather permits. “I Used to Love Her [Again]” may not be completely necessary, though some lyrical changes are welcome, but the instrumental is what truly allows it to shine. When 9th adds different elements to the production, it works also. The piano keys on “The Problem Is,” for instance, carry the point home, giving it a Killa Cali flair. With 9th, you get what you expect but that isn’t a bad thing.
However, Fornever is not without flaws. When you get what you don’t expect from 9th, for example, things don’t go smoothly. An admittedly ghostwritten verse on “Asian Girls” for 9thmatic makes the track skippable and it cuts off the rhythm of the album. “Cigarettes and Liquor” may be a fun jam, but it’s also forgettable compared to their more potent pieces. Those missteps are few but on an album with only ten cuts, it’s hard not to notice them.
By the time this gets published, the sun will most likely be back up in Los Angeles. For the most part, that’s how this album goes, too. There are some points where there are pitfalls and rain falls, but for the most part-it’s got a glow to it. It’s more of what we’ve all come to expect from the duo, with minor miscues and some great additions. Fornever is quite possibly their most fun album to date, one that benefitted from the Los Angeles inspiration and one that stands proudly next to three other critically acclaimed projects, while also standing on its own.