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Since last year when Hov and Kanye decided to join forces, it seems like hip-hop has been obsessed with the idea of high-profile collaborations. While most of these collabs rarely make it past your Twitterfeed or a couple of studio sessions, the ones that do rarely live up to the hype…or are rushed and half-assed. West Coast emcees, Murs and Fashawn’s collaborative album, This Generation, is one of the few albums that not only look good on paper, but sound good on your iPod (or dare I say, from the speakers of a ’64 Impala?).

Fashawn, who is best known for his 2009 album Boy Meets World, raps like he has something to prove on all 12 of the album’s tracks. While Murs, one of the most respected rappers in the game, sounds sharp as ever, matching verses with the young buck. Very seldom do two rappers, who hardly know each other prior to recording the album, sound so comfortable trading bars.  Sure, it was fun watching Yeezy and Jay trade their “luxury raps” while cruising in a $350,000 Maybach. It’s just as fun (and to 99% of people, more relatable) to hear Murs and Fash rap about being on some “hood shit” on tracks like “The Other Side.” “Slash Gordon” features the two Left Coasters trading bars over high-energy production, provided by K-Salaam & Beatnick, who laced the entire project. On “’64 Impala” Murs and Fash rap about their favorite classic whip: “fuck a 600 Benz, give me a ’64 Impala,” over a vintage, bass-heavy beat. And despite the two often being labeled as “backpack” rappers, they deliver one of the most enjoyable strip club raps I’ve heard in a while, on the hidden bonus cut.

This Generation isn’t all battle raps and laughs. It would’ve been disappointing if enlightening emcees such as Fash and Murs (the guys responsible for tracks like “Life as a Shorty” and “Walk Like a Man” respectively), didn’t make a few cuts with some substance.  Such tracks make up some of the album’s biggest highlights. The emotional “And it Goes” as well as the social commentary on “Heartbreaks & Handcuffs” feature top notch verses as well as some stellar hooks. The two trade perspectives on relationships gone awry on “Future Love” and bridge generational gaps on the reggae-inspired title track.

This Generation is as solid as a hip-hop album gets. There are a few minor missteps; tracks like “Yellow Tape” “and “Reina De Barrio (Ghetto Queen),” while not necessarily bad, are sort of forgettable and unremarkable tracks. Despite never collaborating before making this LP, Murs and Fashawn have done what few collaborative albums do: create a complete and cohesive album, that actually lives up to lofty expectations.

- Zach Gase

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