Sunday, August 17, 2014

Neila and Vrse... Finally in 2014!

Holy cow - it's finally here! That Neila and Vrse Murphy EP they've been promising for years and years... Here's a post I wrote in 2009 saying that it had been so long, I guessed the EP was never coming. So it's been five years since I was giving up hope on it, I don't even remember how many years it's been coming in total. And it just dropped now. I'm still mentally processing it.

Undedicated (or Udnedicated, as it's spelled on the front cover) is an eight-song EP, though the intro and outro are under two minutes each, so maybe you could count it as seven songs. They're not just little skits, though. The closer is a full vocal and instrumental song, the title song in fact, and it's actually one of the best songs on the album. It's got a really rich sound, a simple but effective hook... it's just based around a single verse as opposed to the traditional three. The intro, on the other hand, really is more on an "intro" than a full song. Again it features some of the strongest production, but instead of Neila rapping it just features a fascinating spoken word poem over the track, which does a great job setting up the tone for the album.

If you're a hardcore fan, you've heard two of the songs before. Neila shared her then unreleased collaboration with Vrse, "Stone," on her Youtube channel four years ago... Something else I took as a sign that this full EP would never come out. A moody track that reminds me of Neila and Vrse's first song together from her debut EP all the way back in 1998. And at another stage, a song called "Felt Again" (sometimes titled "Felt Dos") was set loose on the internet. It's an updated version of their stand-out track on Neila's 2004 album For Whom the Bells Crow, naturally called "Felt." I call it an update more than a remix, because it essentially retains all of the same music from the first version, but adds new instrumentation and singing to it, fleshing it out even further. It's also about double the length. The original vocals are carried over to this new version, but she's also sneaked an all new verse into the middle. Anyway, it's great that these two songs have finally found a home besides simply "out there" on the 'net.

And so that leaves four more songs, and some of us might've been a little apprehensive, expecting some half-assed studio scraps culled together to fill out an album. But no, these are all top shelf songs that stand alongside the best of their work on past albums. Well, mostly. Personally, I wasn't really feeling the music for "Swamp," which stands far afield from the rest of the EP, replacing the lush musicality with a main loop that sounds like it's made out of computer sounds from some 80s sci-fi movie. Don't get me wrong, over the years Vrse has already proven himself a master of more than just the one style heard on the rest of this EP. Plus, there's a funky little breakdown where the beat changes up for the last verse, giving the song some life for the finale. And it's all technically done well enough, with a fresh drum break underneath it all. Neila's still rocking it. It's just not... enjoyable? It's just the kind of loop to make you think, eh, what else is on this album?

But that's alright, because the answer is plenty.  When Neila raps about feeling hung over in "Blue," it feels like she's crossed over into Hoop world. Meanwhile, the pair is never more in sync than they are on "Fence." And "Black" may be the break-out song everybody falls in love with like "Felt" was for the Bells Crow album.

Taking all these years to release an album is really setting up your audience for disappointment. It's why Dre is scared to release Detox. And as a fan who's been touting Vrse and Neila as one of the best possible match ups since Jeru and Premier, I'm thrilled and relieved to report that this is it. This is in no way a let down, but exactly what we've been waiting for. An Illmatic not a Stillmatic, and finally having it in my hands has me smiling like the drawing on the CD cover.

Oh yeah, that reminds me... The difficulty is that it's apparently an extremely limited CD, so you'll have to put in some serious due diligence to actually obtain a copy. Neila's been selling copies to her fans through facebook; but I haven't seen them available anyplace else yet. But if you're a Neila and/or a Vrse fan, I can assure you that it'll be worth the effort.  =)

No comments:

Post a Comment