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Hip-Hop is a young man’s game.  And today, armed with their face tattoos, auto-tune, and drug induced melodies, the gen-z’ers have taken over the scene.  While I’m a fan of modern music, indie rap legends Murs & Slug provided us with a much-needed break from it by delivering 12 well-structured classic jams on their 4th installment of the Felt series. This surprise album comes 18 years after their debut album, Felt: A Tribute To Christina Ricci, and 11 years after their most recent album, Felt 3: A Tribute To Rosie Perez.  After a decade hiatus, Murs and Slug re-enlist the other Atmosphere member, Ant, to handle the production.  With The Grouch, Ant, and Aesop Rock respectively (and exclusively) handling production on installments 1, 2, and 3; Ant is the first producer to give this project a second run. And man, Ant made sure we weren’t just going to be talking about the rappers. Let’s hop into a few of my highlights.

Wasting no time, Ant drops a groovy drum loop on the intro track, “Never’s Enough”, as Murs & Slug tag team the chorus singing, “Don't really matter how much you got now / Don't really matter now / The door's don't lock and the cops don't knock now / Levelling up but it's never enough”.  It’s clear from the jump we’re in for some early 2000’s conscious hip hop touching on politics, economics, and the social impact of current events.  The tone of this track resembles Eminem’s 2004 “Never Enough” (RIP Nate Dogg) where they suggest that no matter how much fame you achieve or how much money you make, it’s never enough.  Felt achieves that sentiment but adds a socio-conscious spin to it. Another stand out song is, “Sticks & Stones”.  Introduced calmly by a soft church choir sample and soft string instruments, Ant paves the way for both rappers to give us two contrasting perspectives on the influence of violence on our youth. Murs give us a tale of a child growing up in Compton as he raps, “And in the third grade / I saw my first grenade / The homie kept it in a drawer with his sporting waves”.  On the flip, Slug personifies a suburban kid growing up with violent movies and video games as he raps, “I report for duty / I'mma kill all the bad men / Too young to understand that I was being programmed”.

My personal favorite is the song, “Hologram” (featuring The Grouch & Aesop Rock). This album already feels like a reunion amongst old friends with Murs & Slug inviting Ant back, but they extend that invitation to the two producer/rappers who handled the other two projects to deliver their own verbal verses on this song.  With heavy synths, a roaring sinister bass-line, and thumping drumbeats, Ant layered this production and left earth at the same time.  All factions of this all star indie rap lineup handled their own but Murs was the star of the show here.  It’s an election year and Murs doesn’t shy away rapping, “Celebrate the close call, y'all know how the story go / Detain the black, deport the brown / Until we dethrone the orange face-ass clown”.  I think Murs should have closed out the song, but I understand saving the surprise guests for the last two verses.

Good conscious hip hop might not be on the forefront of the scene but it’s out there.  It’s consoling that living legends (pun intended) like Murs, Slug, and Ant are still out there making music for us.  Atmosphere was the last live show I got to shoot/cover prior to the pandemic, so this project hits me a little different.  Clocking in at only 40 minutes, this project is the perfect length where it keeps you entertained but doesn’t run too long.  If you’re looking for some new thought-provoking indie hip-hop, Felt 4 U is the one you should check out.  


As always, rock on my friends!     Hunnypot Approved!     Overall Rating:  8.5 out of 10

Artist:  Felt LP: Felt 4 U,   Release Date: August 7th, 2020,   Label:  Rhymesayers Entertainment

Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

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