Following the break-up of EPMD and his departure from the Hit Squad rapper/ producer Erick Sermon decided to scoop up two of the crew's protégés -- Redman and Keith Murray -- and join together to form The Def Squad. Among the crew's first releases after the transition was Keith Murray's debut album, 'The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World' released on November 8, 1994.
Murray, who made his rap debut with a standout appearance on 'Hostile,' on his mentor's solo album, 'No Pressure,' delivered a good first LP, placing him among the crop of promising East Coast upstarts that owned 1994.
Largely produced by Erick Sermon himself, the album was well-received by critics and fans alike, producing two hit singles and achieving gold certification from the RIAA. With the 20th anniversary of its release upon us, we thought it would be fun to handpick the top five songs from the album and rank them accordingly. Get in to it below.
Keith Murray brings us into the danger zone on this aptly-titled cut. Produced by Erick Sermon, the beat is a winner, powered by dusty drums and samples of Zapp's 'Be Alright' and 'Dance Floor.' Dropping slick lines like "I launch tomahawks like missiles when I talk, with promiscuous intelligence like Mr. Roarke," Keith Murray steps up to the plate in a big way, with The Green Eyed Bandit's simple, yet essential hook work and ad-libs serving as the cherry on top.
'The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World' ends on a high note with the smoked out 'Escapism.' Produced (surprisingly) by Redman, Keith Murray decides to show off his storytelling chops on this number, and proves to be wildly entertaining during the process. Freestyling for Martians while sharing the peace pipe sounds good just reading it on paper, but the MC pulls it all together and delivers a detailed play-by-play, making for a solid track.
'How's That'Featuring Redman & Erick Sermon
New Jersey representative and fellow Def Squad members Erick Sermon and Redman make an appearance on 'How's That.' The elder statesman E. Sermon proves he has enough juice in the tank to hang with his hungry protégés from the door, spitting "I freak a technique going way back like Just-Ice / And don't think twice because I'm nice," and sounds lyrically rejuvenated. Keith Murray delivers a decent performance in his own right, but Redman steals the show with ease, dropping a myriad of witty punchlines and one-liners to make a listener go dizzy. Erick Sermon's brooding beat, which samples Bootsy's Rubber Band's 'Under the Influence of a Groove,' just adds to the greatness bestowed on the track and makes the cypher complete.
'The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World'
The album's title track and the first single released from the album, 'The Most Beautifullest Thing' introduced Keith Murray to the masses in a big way. Produced by Erick Sermon, the track showcased Murray's multi-syllabic style and expansive vocabulary. Keith Murray's biggest solo hit to date, the song peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart and was one of the more buzz-worthy rap singles of late '94. Dope rhymes, melodic background vocals and a smooth, sublime beat made for the perfect ingredients and resulted in a certified rap classic.
"I grab the 40, rip off the skirt / Guzzle it, grab the mic and come out the woodwork." With that opening salvo, Keith Murray kicks off the self-explanatory 'Get Lifted.' Erick Sermon lays down a superb beat, utilizing various samples from the likes of Rick James ('Bustin' Out'), The Mohawks ('The Champ'), Teddy Pendergrass ('Close the Door') and George McCrae ('I Get Lifted'), and manages to mold it all together, creating a funky jam. The second single released from the album, 'Get Lifted' is definitely worthy of being in the finest of toker's playlist, or even the average music fan that just enjoys some good ol' audio dope.