By Daniel Paiz
Back at it again with another A Week’s Worth Review after taking an unexpected break. To be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot that caught my attention. This weekend is a different story! This project won out, because this Murs & Dee-1 collaboration has been on my radar all summer.
It’s a project that you might expect if you listen to both of these artists, but in a way that you might not. Let’s explore this: Murs says stuff I didn’t really expect, and both Dee-1 and Murs get into their own personal journeys a bit. Without further spoilers (and if you’re one of those TL:DR types, you’re welcome with the above description!) let’s dive into this ambiguously religious album (or is it…).
Who’s the Christian and Who’s the Rapper though
Guess what everyone: the short answer is, we might never know. Now if you listen to Dee-1 and Murs, you can guess which is which. But that’s one of the interesting things about this album, both guys can play both roles. The chemistry on this tape honestly rivals all of the other groups that have dropped projects this year: Jamo Gang, Run The Jewels, Blu & Exile, Felt, and several others I’m forgetting. It helps that these two have become friends over the past eight years.
The entire album is a back and forth conversation between the two emcee friends. If the album cover and concept sound familiar, that’s because it’s a throwback to the DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince album “He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper”. Several tracks stick out, but nothing overshadows the entire project. That seems to happen at times to group albums, but thankfully doesn’t here. My top track is actually a topic Murs has discussed in the past, just in a different context.
Digging into the track “2 Dark Skin, 2 Light Skin”
Okay, enough with all the light skin jokes
She callin’ me a Splash Brother in a house knit robe
I’m like “Hold up, I just had to stop you madam”
Somebody better tell this girl who the f*** I am
Girl, what’s your problem, are you hearin’ yourself?
See, you exactly what’s wrong with our folk, allow me to help
Racism’s bad, bad like drugs
But colorism ain’t better, queen, come give me a hug!
(It’s love)-Dee-1, “2 Dark Skin, 2 Light Skin
If you aren’t familiar with Dee-1, he introduces his thought process to you very quickly. Colorism is a problem within Black and Brown communities across the world, and Dee-1 and Murs are both trying to have a conversation about it. It’s detrimental to be upset about racism yet actively participate in colorism; just like racism, colorism is something that’s engrained and needs to be deconstructed. Unraveling this form of self-hate can help one understand just how deep internalized oppression goes.
Another example of needing to address colorism is part of Murs’ verse in the next section after the chorus:
The shade of my skin had her tryna throw shade
She like “You’re dark skin, dirty and you proly don’t bathe”
“Dark skins can’t dress, you ain’t got no style”
“The only way I see you in the dark is if you smile”
Call me rusty, dusty, I felt so rejected
Said “You probably unemployed with a criminal record”
“You blacker than the back of Forest Whitaker’s neck”
“You Tyrese with a tan, you gets no respect”-Murs, “2 Dark Skin, 2 Light Skin”
Murs tackles stereotypes darker skinned individuals face on the daily. The “call me rusty, dusty, I feel so rejected,” line to me comes off as the strongest piece of evidence in the verse of how detrimental these beliefs are. Making judgements about someone before even knowing a thing about them is what causes division within one’s own community. To continue to use the tools of oppression against each other makes it too easy to stop community building and healing.
This is a bit of insider baseball here, but not all lines are explicitly for every listener. This track is both a glimpse into how colorism is just as detrimental as racism, and a callout to one’s own community if you are someone who participates in these stereotypes. The icing on the cake is how Murs and Dee-1 are pretty lighthearted about this in the video above, despite how important of a conversation it is.
A throwback of sorts
This album has the potential to be timeless music because of how its structured. It both reflects the 2020 trend of duos in Hip-Hop delivering solid projects, but also feels like 2000s/1990s throwbacks of buddy albums and movies. The epitome of this is the conversation over Christianity in the track “Tough Questions”.
Murs brings up a host of issues and why God allows this and contradictions he sees. Dee-1 responds with lines about giving thanks and being appreciative of the life one has. It’s an interesting conversation, and is more a list of things to think about rather than who’s right or wrong. That’s a central theme to this album. Depending on your beliefs and thought process, there’s a lot to dig into in only 38 minutes of music.
I’m a big fan of both Murs and Dee-1 on their own. To have these two come together and create a project is really dope. This album shows you a side of Murs that has evolved over the years and feels kind of new compared to his older stuff. Dee-1 yet again shows that he’s taking the right steps to becoming one of the upper tiers of rappers in his generation.
It’s unfortunate that due to being a Christian rapper the accolades seem to be trickling in slower than one might expect. That’s definitely not the driving force in Dee’s music. It appears that just like The Roots and other underground acts, it’s going to continue to be a slow build for the New Orleans rapper.
“He’s The Christian, I’m The Rapper” is a refreshing change of pace from what’s out there right now. This project is one of many countless examples of the spectrum of topics that Hip-Hop artists have to offer. You just have to do some crate digging of sorts to find different sounds.