Audio Mixer: Ben "Bengineer" Cybulsky.
Recording information: Robot Slap; The Cuban American Social Club; The Orange Room; The RibCage.
Like Tech N9ne's 2015 effort Special Effects, Murs' album Have a Nice Life flirts with mainstream to the point of almost f'n with it, but this blow against the empire is an altogether better LP. Every track here punches with a purpose, beginning with the opening title track, which marks the rapper's move to Tech N9ne's imprint with "Strange Music is the label" and then hits upon all the benefits with the on-point "so now your boy is able." Able to draw myriad slick productions that go indie ("Skatin' in the City" finds Mayday's Plex Luthor adding some Best Coast-ish guitar), underground ("PTSD" with E-40 is the kind of dark at home on Strange), or offworld (the great "Okey Dog" is a funky redo of the Kraftwerk sound), but not so odd that the crowd-aimed album goes off course. "Black Girls Be Like" is a big James Brown blast of power soul with Murs giving the ladies some praise, while the provocative "Pussy and Pizza" plays Xbox, spends all its extra money on Jordans, and makes him the thinking man's Caligula, or maybe just a freedom fighter who's contradictory and crass under it all. Until the man records a song called "Pussy and Pynchon," it'll be up for debate in the mind of his detractors, and yet the "educated doesn't always mean politically correct" stance of the album is arguably refreshing, plus, with so many alluring productions underneath, it might woo a puritan into a porno shop. Beating your label boss at his own crossover game is a bold move, but don't expect anything less from the shameless and smart Murs, especially when he's in top form. ~ David Jeffries