Though serial collaborator Murs turns out as many co-op albums as he does solo joints (seriously), few hit the creative sweet spot quite as well as This Generation—his cooperative effort with Fresno-based rapper Fashawn.
The LP sails through its dozen tracks with a greater ease than you’d think possible from a long-distance collaboration between two rappers who didn’t really know each other prior to the project’s beginning. As it turns out, Murs and Fashawn are frighteningly well suited for collaboration. Their nimble, stylishly aggressive flows mesh without difficulty, and Murs (the senior of the pair by a decade) provides a full-throated balance to Fashawn’s exuberant, sometimes overeager rhymes.
Call it backpack rap’s response to Watch the Throne, but Murs and Fashawn have managed to pull off the rare trick of combining two great talents to an even greater collaborative result.
Album opener “Just Begun” sets the mood for the proceedings with a jaunty, nouveau-soul beat and a pair of declarative verses. Murs gives a quick backward glance to his criminal and musical career, rapping, “I had to come up with a different flow / Exposing, expanding ways of getting dough.” Fashawn offers a similar manifesto, rhyming, “No more snatching purses / I persevere.”
From there, it’s on to the subjects of hard-won wealth and joyful indulgence in women, the two thematic through-lines of the LP.
“Reina De Barrio (Ghetto Queen)” offers some (obvious) praise for the latter, while also allowing Murs to neatly name drop the Sinaloa Cartel. Advance single “Slash Gordon,” whose beat sounds like a mashup of “99 Problems” and a Caribbean steel drum band, remains a highlight. Murs and Fashawn’s call-and-response verses on that track offer plenty of boasting, but it’s tempered by enough blatantly personal details to remain engaging. Fashawn offers the couplet, “Not an Ave. you never catch us on/ You n**gas is cosmetic as Revlon,” to which Murs’s responds, “I was the broke kid that never had a Megatron / I stole it from the rich kids, that’s why we couldn’t get along.”
The loving discussion of money, women and self is nothing new in hip-hop, but Murs and Fashawn’s discourses have a grit that makes them feel sufficiently earned. It’s believable when Murs drops a story about hooking up some gangsters with a few keys; Fashawn’s verses about the ghetto make it clear that that’s a place where he might find himself again if things go badly south.
This Generation offers both MCs the chance to go wild for a bit in their favorite thematic playground. They jostle, clown and keep each other perpetually on their toes, resulting in a career highlight for both.