A Fan's Review: K-Murdock - 'The Ronin' (2011).
Since becoming familiar with the hip-hop group Panacea towards the end of 2008, I've found myself becoming enamored with finding and listening to any and everything that they've put out. Discovering good hip-hop music will do that to you. Panacea is a progressive hip-hop duo that features emcee, Raw Poetic, and producer K-Murdock.
Since Panacea's last studio album in 2010 titled '12 Step Program', producer K-Murdock has continued to branch out on his own. Besides releasing various instrumental albums, the D.C. based producer has collaborated with various artists from all over the world on several of his solo projects. A avid gamer, K-Murdock even released a video game themed album titled 'Forever Famicon' with Random, who also goes by the name Megaran in 2010. It's safe to say that K-Murdock has been a busy man.
My latest K-Murdock discovery unfortunately came recently. It was his 2011 release titled 'The Ronin'. Since I've been listening to K-Murdock's music since 08, I feel bad even saying that I recently found out about this album. Kinda makes you question how much of a fan I really am right? Anyway, in this article, I'm going to give my own review on this K-Murdock release. Since K-Murdock is one of my favorite producers, I may be a bit biased in some of my thoughts. However, any praise and props that I give him for this album are well deserved.
K-Murdock's, 'The Ronin', is a 14 track EP of songs that K-Murdock produced over a three year period. In actuality, the EP contains 7 tracks. However, the instrumentals to the songs are also on the album. The term 'ronin' comes from Japan. A ronin was defined as a samurai warrior that existed in Japan without a master or lord. This was back in the days of feudal Japan. These ronin warriors were thought of as wanderers, loners, and outlaws. Samurai warriors expelled from their clans, or had been denounced by their lords were also thought of as ronins.
You may ask yourself how this all ties into K-Murdock's EP. Well, the 7 track EP consists of recordings that K-Murdock produced over a three year period. The songs on this EP didn't find their way onto other releases by K-Murdock, so they basically ended up on the shelf. However, K-Murdock obviously decided that he wanted these great tracks heard by his fanbase, so that's how we ended up with 'The Ronin'. It's not surprising that K-Murdock would give this particular EP this title. Fans of K-Murdock know that he incorporates a lot of Japanese anime into his music. Okay, enough of all that. Lets get into my thoughts on the album. Read on!
In this section, I will give my personal breakdown of each individual track, and how they tie into the unique name that K-Murdock has given this EP.
- Carnival feat. Braille - Track number one titled 'Carnival', features an emcee named Braille. The track starts off with a spacey vibe, as Braille mentions K-Murdock as the captain of this journey, and how he is just along to navigate. The beat that K-Murdock lays down gives the impression that the listener is about to embark on an unfamiliar journey. Braille's lyrics are very positive, and complement K-Murdock's fast paced instrumental. This song is a great start off to the EP.
- Brown Eyes feat. Commoners & Kings - Track number two is titled 'Brown Eyes'. This 4:48 minute track features Long Beach, California collective Commoners & Kings. The lyrical content on this track is based on a father seeing himself through the love of a first born child's brown eyes. Each member lays down a nice verse, and seem to equate their own personal experiences in their lyrics. The production on this track is okay, but it's not one of my favorites. However, the lyrics on this track really grab at the listener.
- The Wu-Tang Joint feat. Mr. Miranda - Ah the golden days of hip-hop. That's exactly what the listener will feel when listening to 'The Wu-Tang Joint'. Phoenix, Arizona artist Mr. Miranda, lays down some nice lyrics that complement K-Murdock's instrumental. The beat has a lot of various horns incorporated into it, which will remind most listeners of the hip-hop days of old. This track is extremely short(2:15), but is the perfect lead in to the next track titled 'Slaves'.
- Slaves feat. Real Reid - Track number 4 titled 'Slaves' is easily my favorite track from 'The Ronin'. This track features Detroit artist Real Reid, who also collaborated with K-Murdock on his solo album 'Piano-Rama' in 2010. Reid equates his experiences of being a blue collar worker in today's society, and how he struggles to make a living for himself. The production is A plus, and features a nice drum pattern by K-Murdock. A little over halfway through the track, the beat switches up. It's a nice change with the sample "I work all day, I don't get paid" being looped. I love this song.
- 1 Hit Wonderful feat. K-Cromozone & IV The Polymath - Track five titled '1 Hit Wonderful', is a nice uptempo type song. K-Murdock's lays down a nice track, that contains some great scratches and cuts towards the ending of the song. I really don't much about the artists featured on this track, but they do an average job lyrically. K-Murdock's production outshines the lyrics in my opinion.
- Pieces feat. Deus - Track six is titled 'Pieces'. Remember the album title 'The Ronin'? This track really ties into what the concept of the album title. The emcee named Deus, lays down some nice lyrics, although his voice can become a bit monotonous. However, K-Murdock's production on this track is spot on. It has a nice bass line, and the keys sound really great. Deus actually refers to something termed the '47 Ronin', and the end of the track has a detailed explanation of the event. It's pretty interesting, and enhances the track in my opinion.
- The Future feat. Junclassic - The album concludes with the track 'The Future'. K-Murdock captures situations going on in our country today well with his production on this track. The emcee, Junclassic vocals complement K-Murdock's instrumental, as he highlights various injustices that have, and are still taking place today. Very heartfelt track, and a good way to conclude this EP.
As I mentioned earlier, my opinions may be a bit biased on this album. However, I really do feel that this is a very good EP for only having 7 total tracks. K-Murdock's production is very impressive, but I think that the lineup of various artists featured on these tracks are what makes this a great EP. It appears that K-Murdock knows exactly the right kind of artists he allows to put their vocals on his beats.
I give 'The Ronin' a 4.5 out of 5. The only thing this EP lacks in my opinion is more tracks, but I'm satisfied with what K-Murdock gives us. After all, these tracks basically sat around for a few years, so hearing them is a blessing within itself. People that are familiar with Panacea and K-Murdock definitely won't be disappointed. I'd also like to think that this EP is good enough to bring others into the progressive hip-hop movement. As Braille mentioned in the track 'Carnival', K-Murdock is the captain of the ship. As a fan of K-Murdock's music, I hope he continues sailing forward with his music.
You can check out K-Murdock's music at: http://neosonix.bandcamp.com/album/the-ronin