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In 1998 the New Yorker, Keith Murray dropped his third with "It's A Beautiful Thing", an album which would push forward the Def Squad member as one of the most well-respected underground lyricists. You have Redman and Erick Sermon (of EPMD and Def Squad) rap and the latter of the two provides all the production for him here
2. "When I Rap"
To get things going here, you have him performing a track which finds him showing just how strong his lyricism is, and how uncommon such quality is it is a big track and has him speak exactly how it is, and so a few controversial phrases come through, but it's just what this guy is about. Sermon decides an LL sample is perfect for this, and it gets things going nicely.
After having sampled him in the track prior to it, here you find that LL Cool J actually comes to rap with him, and I felt that this was a fairly significant thing as with this popular mainstream rapper working with such an underground name brings him up, and allows LL to return to where he began things. It has them talk of just how well-respected they are as some of the best writers out there.
4. "Some S**t"
Here you get some proper East Coast underground stuff as you here that Erick Sermon drop some head-bopping production, and this is just the type of thing you expect to get from a track such as this. It has you return to a time a little earlier than when this was released, and I felt that this was a positive, as it shows that despite a little more exposure, he is still keeping it where he began it in 1994.
5. "Bodega Skit"
6. "Slap Somebody"
The beats in this one show just what the music coming out of the East Coast was about. This really takes you back to the time as it really represents the general sound of the time, and the type of acts who were popular when performing this style of Hip Hop. It has him choosing to bring things up by rapping in a bit more of a humorous way to allow people to connect with him as he gets to the club raps.
7. "Secret Indictment"
He quickly makes a massive change in what he chooses to rap about as here he decides that its time to get into something a lot darker. Due to the fact that he is one of few true Hip hop acts who you can actually believe when they decide to rap about a criminal past (seeing as how he continued to clock up prison time after getting famous). He directs it to people who can truly relate to this, but it seems to grab you no matter who you are.
Kicking it off with a sample of Slick Rick, h Erick Sermon immediately brings in the listeners who are into this type of Hip hop, and I felt that it was a great way to begin things, and it hypes you up for what will follow on form it, as from this point you get Murray flowing in a way where he seems to adapt his style slightly in more to make it a bit more commercial (suitable for the radio), but he still manages to keep things real.
9. "Intersection" (Lude)
10. "Shut The F**k Up"
As soon as you here this one begin, you see immediately that he is choosing to go a very specific way with this recording as it begins with him coming with some complexly-worded phrases to show that after having let his guard down with simplistic raps, he now wishes to return to the hardcore lyricism, and although it is a short one, it shows that he is amongst the best in this field.
Here you get heavy head-bopping beats here, and it has him even referencing how it impossible not to do so as you listen to the fresh beats. It is a banger of a track, and it finds Sermon sampling Redman along the way as Murray is given what is needed to show just how strong his flows can be. The amount of killer phrases which come through here means you have t sleep on it to get all out of it.
13. "Life On The Street"
Here you find that he takes it back to his earlier years as he traces where he went from his time slinging, before he chose to turn his attention to rapping. It is an engaging one, and based upon what we have gone through the rest of the release, you really want to hear about what he has done in his years. It is a fresh cut, and able to appeal to anyone.
14. "Ride Wit Us"
This one really stands out as it finds him working with all of Def Squad as well as Oakland's Too $hort. It is a track which seems o take you by surprise, especially since it wasn't chosen to be a single as it finds that together they do a big joint where they show just how well they all work together, and how he relaxed pace can lead to such a hardcore jam.
15. "Jungle Boogie" (Lude)
16. "High As Hell"
Following a very suitable interlude, you have a track which has him doing a track which has him showing how despite the fact he really isn't doing anything that original, the complexity of the flows means that it is a banger of a tune from him as he displays how he can adapt his fresh wording to what is a pretty straight-forward topic.
17. "Bad Day"
The beats in this one are hard, and it means that it brings you right in from the get-go, I felt that without this it wouldn't be as effective as it finds him rapping in a manner which he hasn't tried out at any other point here as it is all in a very low pace and in a depressing way, and had the beats not made as much of an impact as they did, I wouldn't have cared that much for it.
18. "A Message From Keith" (Lude)
19. "My Life"
Ending this album you have a joint from him which has him dealing with very personal things, and as I don't often lke this type of thing, I felt that the fact that I immediately felt for him as he went in on the head-bopping production, you can't just ignore the type of thing which he comes up with here. It is a great way to end what is a killer album.
This album is a big one, and one which shows the artist performing to his best potential. As this one dropped sonn after his collaboration with R. Kelly, I expect that it it was one which everyone would have got in a hype about at the time, but few stuck with him, and with lyrics like what you get in here, you can't ignore anything which came after it.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 When I Rap
4 Some Shit
5 Bodega Skit
6 Slap Somebody
7 Secret Indictment
10 Shut The Fuck Up
13 Life On The Street
14 Ride Wit Us
15 Jungle Boogie
16 High As Hell
17 Bad Day
18 Message From Keith
19 My Life