By Daniel Paiz
A Week’s Worth review is back with a look into the long-awaited Felt album. 11 years in the making, Felt 4 U is dedicated to the fans who have been asking nonstop for a sequel to Felt 3. This project breaks from the previous installments’ tradition of being dedicated to a famous starlet this duo apparently appreciates (previous dedications were to Christina Ricci, Lisa Bonet, and Rosie Perez, respectively).
Felt 4 is intriguing to me for a couple of reasons. In particular it’s the melding of social commentary mixed with reflection of self when it comes to what aging in Hip-Hop looks like. This genre and culture seemingly favors the young, but 2020 is but another year that bucks the trend.
Felt 4 U is a smooth narrative
I tend to speak about the overall feeling an album delivers in album reviews, but this one’s different. As mentioned above, there is an overall message sent to listeners everywhere. However, there is also a good, long stare into the mirror for both Murs and Slug on a song-by-song basis. It’s not too reflective, but it’s more than a glance.
For starters, “Never’s Enough” and “Find My Way” serve as both introductory tracks but also songs that reflect the Murs and Slug’s life experiences. Aging in Hip-Hop seems like it’s finally being accepted, which is weird to say. Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Eminem are all middle-aged, yet it seems like they’re not the only exceptions anymore.
These particular lines from “Never’s Enough” continue to grab my attention after countless listens:
Zero bodyguards at the Dodger game
Two fingers in the air when they call my name
Hard to change what it is, what it is
I only do it for my city and my kidsTrack: Never’s Enough. Murs, last four bars of verse 1
Murs has been rapping for over two decades, and he still doesn’t have to worry about fanfare mainstream rappers do. The last line reminds us the focus of Murs, giving us a bit of that grown rap/dad rap that this album banks on. It’s not super lyrical, no double entendre, just lines from life. I think that’s part of what grabs attention for groups like Felt, that relatability. It’s a lot easier to connect with this compared to possessing a lot of wealth or drugs if you’re a mainstream artist.
Slug does the same thing later on in his verse on “Never’s Enough”:
Still lookin’ over your shoulder
Like people don’t change, they just go sober and
This goes to those who didn’t get to get older now
Love me like it’s only gonna get colder now
Live in the flesh, it’s the voice that ice reflects
Got me checkin’ on the time that’s left
Every choice ain’t a life or death
But let’s avoid the stress and let the flights connectTrack: Never’s Enough. Slug, middle section of verse 2
Living life was hard enough before any of the issues of 2020. Now there’s a pandemic, a resurgence of political activism, and an upcoming election all happening simultaneously. The “Love me like it’s only gonna get colder now” line in particular feels like a realization that Slug is halfway through this thing called life. Life might lead Slug or the listener to get colder about difficulties in life. Also, the “voice that ice reflects” causes a double take; it’s a veteran rapper line to be sure, but it feels like a momentary pause as well.
Transitions are everything here
Relationships (“Don’t Do Me Like That”, “Borboleta”), Life and Social Commentary (“Trees” through “Underwater”) and reflections crossed with rappity raps (“Alexander F’real”, “Hologram”, “Crimson Skies”) make up the rest of the album. It’s difficult to chop up each track line by line, as it’d likely turn into a thesis of some sort. To narrow things down, these tracks connect the lives of Murs and Slug personally and professionally through lived experiences. That’s not exactly world altering news, but it possesses something more mainstream projects don’t: authenticity.
That’s everything in this genre and culture.
It’s hard to pinpoint particular instances because there’s a lot to digest. It’s not lyrically dense so much as it is emotionally. This is a strength of the album, rather than a weakness as has been too often thought in rap albums. Vulnerability and an openness to share is what connects artist to listener. I’m not trying to paint this as a heavy album, because it really isn’t. It’s a reflective body of work that’s steeped in both joy and melancholy.
One last thing that was an epiphany to me (Atmosphere fans can skip this part, honestly): Ant is a producing mage. The soundscape throughout this tape is so smooth. Ant boosts Murs and Slug’s lyrics to another level, and makes me press play over and over. Without meaning to, it feels like Ant has been fiddling around with beats for this project since Felt 3 dropped. Okay I’m done praising, but yeah. SO GOOD.