June 26, 2007

Keith Murray - Enigma (November 26, 1996)

Keith Murray's first album went gold. Surprised? You shouldn't be. It was actually good. It was also a different time, back in 1994. From what I've read in history books, some people, called "fans", either heard Keith's songs on the radio, or caught his videos on BET (or possibly MTV, but I never saw him there). They would then go to the store and buy the fucking CD. You didn't have the option of downloading everything before buying back then. You had to bite the bullet and pray to your respective gods that your purchase wouldn't disappoint. Five hundred thousand people did just that, and Keith Murray was encouraged to make a follow up full-length.

Five hundred thousand people never bought a Keith Murray album again, though.

Enigma, the sophomore effort from the Def Squad stalwart, arrived with very little hype going for it. The first single, "The Rhyme", created a moderate buzz, and was recommended in The Source as a song about to blow, so, of course, it did just the opposite. The B-side was a remix of "The Rhyme" produced by flash-in-the-pan-of-the-moment The Ummah, a musical collective made up of Q-Tip and Ali-Shaheed Muhammad (of A Tribe Called Quest), and every blogger's favorite musical genius Jay-Dee (or, if you prefer, J Dilla).

On Enigma, in addition to collaborating with his musical mentors Erick Sermon and Redman, he was also allowed to bring his weed carriers into the booth, and he christened them L.O.D., which I think stood for 'Legion of Doom', or something else just as cliched. He also had the title track on the soundtrack to Ice Cube's Dangerous Ground, some film he made with Elizabeth Hurley that made a reported negative seventeen dollars. In writing, it sounds like a good marketing plan, but Keith Murray made very little noise with Enigma.

Which may be what he preferred at the time. He allowed his musical output to talk for him. It's certainly a better idea than choking the shit out of a Def Jam employee, but that's just my opinion.

1. INTRO
Mother fucker!

2. CALL MY NAME
Erick Sermon, who produces the majority of the songs here, brings a simple yet dark beat for Keith to use and abuse. For some strange reason, Redman's Dr. Trevis character from his own albums appears on here.

3. MANIFIQUE (ORIGINAL RULES)
Sounds like a leftover from The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World. This is not a good thing.

4. WHUT'S HAPPENIN
Keith doesn't sound very good over slow-ass beats like this one.

5. THE RHYME
The aforementioned first single. Today, I can do without that "wiggy wiggy" bullshit on the hook, but the song itself still entertains.

6. DANGEROUS GROUND (FEAT 50 GRAND)
That's right, kids, there was another rapper with the number 50 in his name. This sounds like Keith and 50 Grand are rhyming over a discarded beat from Tribe's Beats, Rhymes, & Life, but that's because The Ummah brought the beat. Sounds good, even if the hook sucks. By the way, that "the hook sucks" thing? Consistent throughout the entire album. I know, right?

7. RHYMIN' WIT KEL (FEAT KEL-VICIOUS)
Erick Sermon's weed carrier rhymes with his own weed carrier over some semi-hard drums. Two levels of weed-carriery? That blows my fucking mind.

8. WHAT A FEELING
This song just has that Erick Sermon "sound". You'll know what I mean when you hear it. Good use of the vocal sample.

9. HOT TO DEF
This was the second single. This song fucking knocks. The best song on Enigma, by far.

10. YEAH (FEAT ERICK SERMON, BUSTA RHYMES, JAMAL, & REDMAN)
The mandatory Def Squad track, featuring Busta "Will Cameo For Food" Rhymes and Jamal, late of rap duo Illegal. Erick Sermon claims the rhymes he kicks "are like liquid swords", which is just so ridiculous, it's funny. Keith claims here that if Erick didn't do the beat, he "can't fuck with it"; maybe he should have followed his own advice on his follow up albums? Finally, anyone else find the dramatic entrance for Reggie Noble cool as shit?

11. LOVE L.O.D. (FEAT 50 GRAND & KEL-VICIOUS)
There's a reason why you've never heard of L.O.D. before today.

12. TO MY MANS (FEAT DAVE HOLLISTER)
I stand by my earlier statement that Keith doesn't sound good over slow songs. Except for this one. The guest vocal was an obvious attempt by Jive Records for a crossover hit, though. How did that work out for you?

13. WORLD BE FREE
Meh.

14. THE RHYME (REMIX)
For better Ummah tracks, please refer to the later years in the Tribe discography, or Busta Rhymes's first album The Coming. Don't look here.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Enigma is one of the better follow-up albums I've ever heard. Even though Keith Murray found success on the debut, he crawled even further up his own ass and delivered an intricate attempt to expand the minds of the fans he already had, all while including just enough filler for new fans to discover him with. Well played, Mr. Murray. Even if all of your hooks sound like shit. Don't let that deter you, though; how many rappers do you know actually have good choruses on their songs?

BUY OR BURN? This might be a problem. If I am to believe Amazon, Enigma is out of print. So a used CD store may be your best bet. But you should definitely buy this shit.

BEST TRACKS: "Hot To Def"; "Yeah"; "Call My Name"

(Disagree with the above review? Leave some comments below! Don't be shy!)

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Redman - Dare Iz A Darkside
Redman - Whut? Thee Album
Keith Murray - The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World

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8 comments:

  1. AlmightyKDJune 27, 2007

    I like many people bought the first CD and never bought another Keith Murray CD again. This was my first real listen to Enigma and I must say I was plesantly surprised by just how good it is. I agree alot of the hooks are terrible and L.O.D. are probably just a bunch of his boys who've never really rhymed in their lives. However I still like "Love L.O.D." just because of the way they ride back and forth over a simplistic beat. "To My Man's" is a terrible track obvious crossover and the obvious ones to me never work. All in all an album I definitly slept on this and am glad I gave it a listen it's well worth it.

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  2. lol your a fool... "Keith doesn't sound very good over slow-ass beats like this one"

    U dont kno shit man... pffft

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  3. AnonymousJune 19, 2009

    i cant belive that this album didnt make alot of money, even if the hook sucks, this is still Keith's best CD

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  4. This album is heavy-dope! Another slept-on classic.

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  5. Found this at a flea market for a dollar a while back, and am REALLY happy I finally listened to it today. The hooks are bad and I don't know why Keith decided to make a song out of his travel itinerary, but the rest of the CD was pretty freaking great.

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  6. probably sacrilege that i admit this is my favorite def squad release

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  7. The crossover attempt To My Mans worked on my gullible ass. My favorite Keith Murray solo song ever.

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  8. My favorite Keith Murray song, bar none. An easier choice to make in Keith's discography than in Redman's.

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