Storytelling has always found its place in music but in hip-hop specifically, artists have found the most elaborate ways to tell their tales. Storytelling within a song is a challenge itself but to make an entire LP that is composed of a series of stories is difficult feat to accomplish. This feat is what Murs strives for on his new album Captain California.
Story | Adam Douglas
Image | via Stange Music
In the Captain California promotional video, Murs reflects on a life threatening event that helped shape him as an artist. He describes how this event inspired him to write a song about it which in turn became a fan favorite and expanded his fan base. Inspired by comic book lore, Murs returns to his roots and the art of storytelling. The album is composed of a series of fictional and nonfictional stories told by MURS with features from Rexx Life Raj, Krizz Kaliko, Reverie, Beleaf, Big Too Small and Curtiss King.
With thirteen different stories Murs is able to touch on a wide variety of subjects on Captain California: love, rivalry, prostitution and gang violence to name a few. The shift between themes helps contribute to MURS intended purpose of creating different scenes and characters in his comic. One moment he’s Shakespeare, reimagining the story of Romeo and Juliet on the smooth R&B laced ‘Shakespeare on the Low,’ then he jumps to opening up about infidelity and the troubles of juggling two women on ‘Ay Caramba’:
“Now I’m knowin’ there’s no way to prevent
My girlfriend throwin’ me out on the cement
It ain’t the first time that she caught me creepin’
But this time I done jumped off the deep end”
Murs dives in and out of social commentary during Captain California. Using his storytelling style on songs like ‘G is for Gentrify’ and ‘GBKW (God Bless Kanye West),’ he becomes the narrator observing the environmental factors that burden his city:
“So God bless Kanye West
And every other brother of color that’s under stress
They wanna make you feel like you are less
Even though you didn’t make it, gotta deal with this mess.”
The social consciousness doesn’t loaf around however, as he switches costumes throughout the album. Sometimes he’s the villainous dope dealer as seen on ‘Colossus,’ then hops in the booth and switches into his jester attire, showing off his well known comedic side with Curtiss King. On the first track ‘Lemon Juice’ the two exchange bars while politely dissing each other over the attention of a woman:
“Now if Curtiss was a jedi his lightsaber would be clear
That means nonexistent like his fuckin’ rap career
Look his breath got your face melted, please make your choice
Do you want a Blake Shelton or a reject from a Royce”
Captain California is a solid album from start to finish with well placed features that help bring the characters and stories to life. The production from producers like DJ Fresh, Mr. Len and MOD also contribute to the story building MURS set out to accomplish, adding depth and suspense to each track whether over light piano melodies or funkadelic guitar licks.
As his tenth studio album and second release on the Strange Music label, Murs proves he’s not only a gifted rapper, but also a talented writer. He’s vivid with his vocabulary and wise with his word choice as he paints the sets the scene on each track.