Felt – A Tribute to Christina Ricci

4 out of 5

Label: Rhymesayers

Produced by: The Grouch

This version of Slug is unbeatable. Aggressive; riding slippily atop a beat, inventive invectives and silly insights punctuated as he slides through them; kinda serious, kinda goofy. It’s a version of the artist that much more frequently comes out when he’s not leading the show, as in Atmosphere, but rather partnered with others that can encourage him, prevent him from indulging in deeper pursuits that I feel may be a bit beyond his reach. This is the version of Slug that makes sense to me, coming up in roundtable groups that surely would’ve an impression after a live show, buzzing off of his energy.

And he’s paired with the unbeatable Murs, a sharper MC who matches his hang-on-every-word rhymes with the smoothest flow, his patter a perfect counterpoint to Slug’s more stop and start style. Murs I enjoy on his own, or across his many projects, but the ad hoc nature of Felt opens things up in a great way – the duo are having fun, and you can tell, giving the overall back-and-forth a playful looseness.

The Grouch’s beats tie it all together. The hooks are killer, very to-the-bone, grinding stuff, but given an oddball, circusy-bounce or an extra zap of emotion with some perfectly sprinkled in keys or samples; the tracks do their job of standing out immediately, and are then solidified via Slug’s and Murs’ raps.

But, y’know, Felt started out as a joke, springing from a conversation concerning its titular subject matter. On the one hand, that’s part of the album’s instant charm, is how accessible it is – two MCs pinging off of one another, and a great beat. On the other hand, it’s undeniably slight, with lyrics rarely varying from boast tracks or Slug’s penchant for girlfriend woes, and barely makes it past the half hour mark, including its three intro / interlude / outro tracks. That short runtime is kinda perfect for such a project, not taking itself seriously enough to aim for anything more, but it also admittedly makes the record rather ephemeral; I’m more apt to return to Felt 3, or Murs’ other works.

However, on those times I stumble across Felt, and decide to give it a playthrough, I’m instantly reminded of why this team-up was something to look forward to.