Do your parents ever pick up your iPad and do everything but turn it on correctly? Or grab a Playstation controller upside down and try to join you in video games? That’s pretty much the equivalent of Murs doing trap music on his newest release, $hut Your Trap.
Already an accomplished independent artist (“I made a million dollars selling $5 tapes”, he boasts early on), Murs picks up this new-fangled trap music and tries to see what the youngins’ are up to; the result is, unsurprisingly, disappointing.
Murs describes the project as a “backpacker’s adventure into the world of trap music”. Like so many adventures the journey starts well enough, with a banging beat and some gnarly attitude. Maybe it’s the strength of the tense synths and the high-speed hi-hats courtesy of Curtiss King, but his grown man shit is kind of engaging here.
“I don’t do jewelry or videos with broke hoes. / It’s 20-14. What the fuck you sellin’ dope for?”, he rightly asks. I mean, marijuana is legal in two states and decriminalized in a dozen others. Get your white collar hustle on!
But before we know it, the listener is stuck sitting passenger-side in Murs’ Prius, talking about good credit and enviable gas mileage. For three minutes, the child-lock is on and we’re forced to hear the benefits of the car’s “eco-mode” and his futuristic dash display.
The dude can unquestionably still string together lines. But was that ever really in doubt? No, the issue here isn’t effort, technical ability, or even attitude. It’s his choice in topics and how that flow meshes with the production.
The beat of “Mo$ Def”cleaves ample space for one-liners, but Murs can’t help but fill it with unneeded syllables. It starts promisingly, talking about open thighs on Instagram, but he manages a way to sneak in a reference to the promising benefits of crossfit and paleolithic diets.
The album ends strongly with “Justin Bieber’$ Black Baby”, a song that conceptualizes a black baby in the pop-star’s head, one who tells Bieber to continue to engage in that head-scratching tabloid fodder. It’s the rare moment when Murs’ forward-thinking actually coalesces the production with interesting content, even if the listener has to sit through the songs that precede it. More often, the mixtape splits the difference between backpack lyricism and trap content in a middling quagmire that will likely disappoint fans of both.
Upon reflection, the title “$hut Your Trap” is an interesting one, as it seems exactly like something a grandfather would say; or an on-the-nose pun a thirty-five year old rapper would make. In this case, it’s all of the above.