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Album Review

After his gloriously fluky solo debut, "The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World," scaled the charts in 1994, Keith Murray's career went into a tailspin he still hadn't recovered from ten years later. His 1996 album Enigma sounded flat and sold poorly, and he began serving a prison term for second-degree assault just as 1999's It's a Beautiful Thing reached the stores. Three years later, after being released and signing to Def Jam in 2002, Murray was dropped from the label before He's Keith Murray even arrived, on charges that he'd choked two Def Jam employees. It did appear, finally, leaving fans of his eccentric take on East Coast rap just a little disappointed, especially so considering the long wait. Murray partially explains his situation with the autobiographical "Christina," relating not only his legal troubles but the early death of his parents and sister; unfortunately, the track isn't much more than a straight retelling, with little emotion and no context. The biggest hit here, "Yeah Yeah U Know It," is a solid party jam, but quite a few other crossover items fall flat: "Candi Bar" is a Latin pop throwaway that wastes Patti Austin as a backing vocalist (granted, it's partly saved by Murray's typically hilarious rhymes). Ironically, anyone who sticks with the record on the flip side will find a much better half, featuring a pair of tight, menacing Erick Sermon tracks ("Sucka Free," "Say Goodnite") and a Jazze Pha production on "Say Whaatt" that floats the perfect accompaniment to Murray's soundclash with Redman. Though his recordings have offered much to hip-hop fans tired of hearing the same old jams, Murray remains his own worst enemy — both at letting his temper off the mike get the best of him, and at allowing crossovers to force aside his best tracks.


Born: 13 September 1974 in Central Islip, New York, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A native of Long Island, Keith Murray first hooked up with Erick Sermon (of EPMD) in 1994. The two worked together to produce Murray's debut single, "The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World," and the song became a hit by the end of the year. After an appearance on Sermon's album Double or Nothing, Murray released his first album in 1995, and titled it after his hit single. The album was certified gold, and Murray delivered his second set near the end of 1996. It's a Beautiful Thing followed in...
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He's Keith Murray, Keith Murray
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