When Murs signed with Strange Music earlier this year, it raised more than a few eyebrows. How would this West Coast MC with a famously relaxed and buoyant flow, fit in with such an infamously dramatic crew? With the release of his first album on the independent label, a collaboration with the Strange-signed Miami band ¡Mayday!, the answer has been provided.The commonality is in their penchant for vigorous performances. ¡MursDay! listens just like a live show. Infused with crowd-like chanting, true school scratching, and organic, free-wheeling verse structure from the MCs, ¡MursDay! sounds like the show you want to see this summer.
“Intro” is actually charmless and rambling, Murs says “objectionable” when he probably means “objective,” and even the beat is forgettable. It’s akin to the MC stage-side with the mic, talking to a crowd that’s just ready for him to emerge. That moment passes quickly and “Tabletops” drops next, an exuberantly cut from start to finish, scratched to shreds as Murs, then Bernz, then Wrekonize come charging out from behind the curtain. The beat bends toward a rock influence, while the verses employ a more familiar up-tempo, party-rocking cadence.
This becomes a theme throughout the project; sounds borrowed from other genres (particularly alt-rock and Cuban fusion), blended with ample scratching and veteran rap skills to sound hip-hop enough. It speaks to ¡Mayday!’s strength as a band that the composition from song to song generally overshadows the lyricism. “Beast Out The Box” is driven by dynamic Latin horns and an easy drum roll, while “Here” knocks gangster to the left in favor of delicate strings and piano. Both have shamefully catchy hooks reminiscent of groups like Imagine Dragons, AWOLNATION, or fun. The crew even tosses in some flamenco influence, using hand claps to ground the beat on “Brand New Get Up” and “Spiked Punch.” It all culminates in a surprisingly sunny sound, with pockets that are downright sing-songy. Don’t get it twisted, though, there are heavy doses of bass, robust rhymes, and DJ cuts throughout to unify the project. This is still Strange Music, after all.
For Murs, one of the most effectively conversational MCs rap has known, that membership in the Strange family may mean some evolution. His cadence is more forceful and deliberate on this project, but he maintains his casual humor and scattered punchlines (“They treated me like an outcast, but not like Big and 3 Stacks/I saw them Players Ballin’, and knew that I’d never be that”). For the ¡Mayday! spitters, it’s always been more about delivery than content. They aim to make you feel what they’re saying more than they need you to hear the words behind it. Bernz shines on “You Again,” the most precise of the three as they opt for some double-time flow. Though between Wreck’s increasingly listenable vocal melodies and his uncanny relatability, he rivals Murs for most likable on the album. “Here” is one of his best moments, as he convincingly speaks for all the low lifes, “Gimmie that table knock, friends went and had babies and changed the locks/Got a job at a desk and they smile for the checks/And they judge me just ‘cause I drink a lot?”
The content on ¡MursDay! revolves largely around some classic motifs; women, money, partying, the rap game, and being doper than you. “Serge’s Song” is the one exception, a bilingual spin on Nas’s “One Love” that addresses the pains of incarceration. Mostly though, the project bares the mark of a celebratory collective-reflecting both those that created the album and the fans that are poised to consume it. The MCs even divide the records generously, mimicking the style popularized by The Beastie Boys, in that verses can be shared by all three as they organically converse, kick add-ons, or cut each other off. This method will make for a good live show, something that Murs and ¡Mayday! obviously kept in mind for the duration of the album’s creation. Framing the album with that intention has resulted in something that’s supremely catchy, though likely fleeting. It lacks timelessness and may fade with the season it’s built to thrive in. That said, if you’re going to blend two coasts for a summer album, ¡MursDay! proves that there are no better cities than LA and Miami to get the job done.—Rachel Chesbrough