After releasing albums that were not the best received, 2007's Rap-Murr-Phobia [click to read] and 2008's Intellectual Violence [click to read], Keith Murray has joined forces with longtime friend and fellow onetime Def Squad affiliate Canibus [click to read] to focus on restoring hard-nosed lyricism in Hip Hop. After Erick Sermon [click to read] initially spilled the beans to MTV News about the project being well underway, the Long Island emcee spoke to HipHopDX about the status and sound of this historic union of '90s masters of simile.
"Me and Canibus have been friends since we both came out in the early-to-mid-'90s, like ’95. We’re real good friends, and he was on ['Some Shit' from 1999's It's A Beautiful Thing]. We were always supposed to do [an album], but the courses of our careers took us in two different directions. So then, I finally got back up with him through a dude named M-80 [click to read], he was doing a tape and putting me and Canibus on the same song...then we decided to do the group, ‘cause our rhyme style is universal and scientific." Keith continued, "This addition to Hip Hop is going to show wordsmith at its finest, like the art of using rapping as a tool to communicate on a universal level."
Talking specifics, Murray added that that the sound of the project is best described as, "We go line for line, from [literary figure] Ichabod Crane to [references to] old Mike Tyson [fights], just bounce off each other’s brains and energy off the beat. It’s just universal. [You will hear] ambiguous metaphors, four syllable words, bouncing around to the beat, stuff like that. And it’s very aggressive, very aggressive."
Coming on Sound Records & Entertainment, the collaborative album is almost finished, intended for strategic release after Def Squad affiliates Method Man and Redman release Blackout 2 [click to watch]. Canibus and Keith Murray, presently doing spot dates, hope to be an opening act throughout Red and Meth's subsequent touring.
Performing is something that Murray treasures in his tool-kit. From his Beautiful brand to his role in light-hearted, hardcore Hip Hop group, Def Squad, Murray's music and his personality have led masses to believe he is a nice guy, who can simply be malicious on the microphone. However, stemming from recent interviews, DVD documentaries and high-profile feuds between artists like Prodigy and K-Solo, Keith, who spent a part of his career incarcerated, says his image has been compromised by the media nad industry. "Through the years and things, growing up, I got into some issues that carried over from where I grew up at. I’m an artist, so the things you do like running the streets and getting into the trouble you get into, it carries over. Unfortunately for me, it happened, and then that rep right there gave the media and certain people and things like that, ammunition to really ride with it and really misconstrue who Keith Murray is."
Having performed alongside EPMD, Redman and Method Man at last year's New York stop of Rock The Bells, Murray says he wants the kind of opportunities belonging to a 15 year veteran of releasing acclaimed albums. "Promoters are reluctant to book me for shows because they felt like I may have a temper problem, or [I may] get into it with another artist, or something like that, and become a liability. And this is my work, I take care of my family like this, and my show is great, and there’s not too many people out there that can match my show. I’m like, ‘Nah, you don’t have to feel that way, give me this shot,’ ‘cause there’s this tour coming up and I had a possibility of going. [The promoter] was like, ‘Well, how is his mental? Is he going to be alright, or is he going to be like they say?’"
A clearly hurt Murray defended, "I’ve had people tell me, ‘Yo, you saved my life. I was going to committing suicide, and then your record came on, and I realized I ain’t have to do it.’ All over the world, stuff like that [is told to me], so I just want to tell them, stop hating on Keith Murray! This guy’s a smart, respectable guy. But you know, you’ve got those phonies that people run with, and me, I’m not really one who been in the press doing much damage control, but now it’s time for me to speak out against it because it ain’t right." Speaking to radio, media and industry, Keith asserts, "I’m a real essential part to Hip Hop ‘cause I live Hip Hop, and I live for the culture. I represent it, so represent me right, too."