Murs, 9th Wonder & The Soul Council
The Iliad Is Dead And The Odyssey Is Over
Buy Here | Listen Below
Most hip-hop heads primarily know 9th Wonder as Little Brother’s erstwhile producer, but he’s put in much more work with LA’s Murs. For fifteen years and seven albums, the duo have released sitcom-length projects filled with colorful fiction, motivational speeches, everyman narratives, and soul-based backdrops. For The Iliad Is Dead And The Odyssey Is Over, they shake up the reliable two-man formula, introducing 9th Wonder’s merry band of beatmakers to bring the noise.
The album’s production is comparatively less dense and sample-heavy than expected, but this isn’t necessarily a result of 9th’s decreased sonic footprint. The three tracks he contributed (“The Hulk,” “Cancun ‘08,” and “Ga$ Station Gucci Belt”) exemplify the LP’s aesthetic, exhibiting crisp, hard-knock breakbeats with sparse instrumental flourishes instead of the omnipresent vocal snippets, lo-fi funk, and crate-dug loops of their previous work. While the results are still ear pleasing, the harmonious marriage of 9th Wonder’s signature warmth to Murs’ vulnerable and humorous raps is somewhat missed.
Indeed, The Iliad Is Dead’s obvious standout, “SIN,” sounds like something that would’ve been more at home on 2016’s Brighter Daze or 2012’s The Final Adventure. Here, Murs cleverly uses the piercing vocals and chunky bass of Kash’s inspired mining of SiR’s “Summer In November” to weave a convincingly compelling tale of infidelity and loss. Where the original song is a modern take on seductive classic soul, “SIN” (get it?) masterfully flips both its musical and thematic script, showcasing the dark side of lust and longing.
Songs about women are familiar territory for Murs, and The Iliad Is Dead has no shortage of them. “Give Me a Reason,” with its mournful, whistling background vocals is a fine entry in the longstanding tradition of Murs’ breakup/reconciliation records, while the gynecological breakdowns and ODB-as-sex-ed-teacher vibe of “Unicorn Glitter” are cringe-inducing at best. The second verse’s sex and sex-work positivity is admirable to an extent, but as a rule of thumb, men telling women how to feel about their own genitalia is never a good idea.
“My Hero” is a better vehicle for Murs’ progressive ideals, telling an interesting, if too-brief story of a woman figuratively and literally trapped by misogyny and male chauvinism. He kicks off “Cancun ‘08” with a promising setup about a night at a strip club, but Pookie Blow and $ilk Money’s guest appearances, dope as they may be, do nothing to further the narrative.
The LP’s obligatory Jamla family features are highlights, with longtime collaborator Rapsody tag teaming on a throwback-and-forth run on the blues guitar-infused “High Noon,” which was remarkably produced by 9th Wonder’s 15-year-old daughter, JDeafBeats. Oakland’s GQ serves commanding lines over Nottz’ Legend-of-Zelda-Dungeon-Theme-turned-banger “Super Cojo Bros.,” but the track’s namesake loses his footing halfway through his anchor-leg verse and never quite recovers.
Despite a few shortcomings, The Iliad is Dead and the Odyssey is Over is another solid addition to the Murs & 9th Wonder canon. Few rappers or producers put as much love and care into their craft, and Murs’ voice and perspective continue to occupy a unique space amongst a sea of sound-alikes and clones.
Notable Tracks: “Give Me a Reason” | “High Noon” | “SIN”