Paul Westerberg wasn't the only artist to give his fans almost-free music this summer. On Friday, July 25, California rapper Murs released Sweet Lord for free over the Internet. It's his third collaboration with producer 9th Wonder, following 2004's Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition and 2006's Murray's Revenge. Sweet Lord isn't up to the level of Murray's Revenge, but it would've been tough for Murs and 9th Wonder to have reached that peak again. Besides, it gives the listener more hooks than Westerberg's 49:00, and in less time.
Though Sweet Lord was free, donations were accepted. I gave $10, partly because Murray's Revenge is one of my favorite albums of the past few years, but I heard it through a free promotional copy at work, which I still have. I feel a little guilty about that, so I was happy to donate.
Earlier this week I bought Classic, the 2005 album by Living Legends, a rap collective of which Murs is a member, along with Luckyiam, Sunspot Jonz, the Grouch, Scarub, Eligh, Bicasso, and Aesop. I heard tracks from Classic last summer at work thanks to a departed coworker whose computer still contained all the music he'd loaded onto the hard drive. Classic has a half dozen or so terrific cuts, including "Blast Your Radio," on which Murs declares that Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle is a classic (I wonder if he's a Judy Blume fan too); the soulful, sultry "Good Fun"; and "Down for Nothin'," which drips paranoia and seething anger ("He's always up to somethin' ... / Forever huntin' someone / Screw over loved ones"). Classic also contains "Even Though," the best rap breakup song I've heard. The chorus is "Even though we don't get along, I still love you," sung in unison by the Living Legends at their most wistful.
On "Blast Your Radio," one of the Living Legends (sorry, I can't tell whose voice is whose except for Murs's) says, "Now, just because it's retro don't mean that it's classic / Just because it's classic don't mean it ain't brand-new." Another Legend responds, "That's true / The Love Below was new, I considered it a classic / Like a pickle made by Vlasic." I'll give it a few more years, but I'd wager that Classic already is.