When they're each at the top of their game, Murs and 9th Wonder go together like peanut butter and jelly. All three of their previous albums followed the same formula: straight beats and rhymes, with no pop or R&B chaser. Fornever follows the same path, with no singers, no famous names, and no concessions to modern rap trends. They make music exclusively for the hip hop underground, refusing to make any attempt to catch onto the charts. When you have a producer as skilled as 9th Wonder and a rapper as good as Murs, that approach is appealing all on its own.
Fornever follows the same pattern, but to less effect. The same formula that created a mini-classic in 3:16 is still here: Murs is telling his stories about life and women over 9th Wonder's sped up soul beats. But Murs has lost his edge; too often, his stories lack the twists and creativity that marks his best work. A perfect example is "I Used to Luv H.E.R.," where he straight rips off Common's song, only bothering to update some of the 90's references. It's a complete waste of time that only serves to remind us how good the original version is.
Murs' stories are still clear and well-told, and even if they lack the depth of most of his work, they still work pretty well. "The Lick" is the best of them, with Murs and Verbs trading great verses about convenience stores. And his attempt to turn a ho into a housewife on "Vikki Veil" is both funny and sad. But songs like "West Coast Cinderella" and "Cigarettes and Liquor" are either too predictable or overly moralizing. And that's without mentioning "Asian Girl," which ruins some funny verses with the single most annoying hook I've ever heard.
"The Problem Is..." is one of the only two songs where he veers away from a story, and its harsh criticism of hip hop is much more effective than in "I Used to Luv H.E.R." It's also a revealing look at a guy who seems really tired of the entire rap industry. But that cynicism doesn't translate into Murs' lyrics, and Fornever suffers from the lack of real emotion Murs displays. From the best story-teller in hip hop, that's a huge letdown.
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I'll probably get a lot of hate from the heads for not slobbering all over this album, but whatever.