Murs and 9th Wonder: Fornever (SMC)

Murs has been among the best MCs in hip hop for nearly a decade, impressively straddling the line between the underground and the mainstream—and he ably proves himself again on his latest collaboration with DJ and producer 9th Wonder.

Opening the album, the title track weaves old-school soul grooves and a booming 808-style beat as Murs and guest rhymer Kurupt indulge in old-fashioned boasting that would sound arrogant if it weren't so clever and irresistible: "... true poetry, we do it how it's s'posed to be / right before we write it out, I imagine you quotin' me."

"Asian Girl" splits the difference between 1970s blaxploitation and the now-classic g-funk. It's also pretty racy, with Murs and guest Verbs trading stories about trying to score with freaky chicks. In the same vein is "Vikki Veil," a graphic tune that details the heartbreak of dating a porn star, while its circular R&B loops cast a hypnotic spell.

Kicking it with classic soul seems to be 9th Wonder's primary M.O. Cases in point: "Let Me Talk," "West Coast Cinderella" and "I Used to Love Her (Again)," which follows its tale of infatuation back to the Reagan years.

Exception to the rule: the quirky novelty noises of "Cigarettes and Liquor," which is both a condemnation of and homage to the vices of its title.