From Felt: A Tribute to Christina Ricci's opening thunder, Murs lays it down. He punches your eardrum and adjudicates, "This is goddamn American rap music."
This is hip-hop. But Slug is co-starring, which means emotional conundrums, self-therapy and critics yelling "emo-hop." And while Felt does offer a buffet of psychiatric sessions - from both MCs - rhyming "lying" with "crying" doesn't mean you're not hip-hop.
Clocking in at a Seinfeld's length, Felt is short but stuffed with the duo's dense song writing. Watch Murs, best of the California-based Living Legends crew, drop word syllables perfectly over every beat spike. Another Legend, The Grouch, gives S & M some satisfying sounds, but his production is too sparse. You don't feel it in your gut; it's not visceral like RZA once was, or how El-P, leader of the reigning underground rap label Def Jux, is now. Powerful soundscapes are fluid and thick. Grouch's beats are mostly stripped-down drum patterns with a floating second layer that doesn't kick you. So when Slug hits the drama button, straining his voice, the production doesn't have enough weight to make you cry.
Think of Felt as a rhymer's album. Two gifted lyricists throwing the mic back and forth.
And why is it a tribute to Ms. Ricci? It just is.