The Beatbox 

Lately, it seems that Keith Murray has become more homage payer than headliner, bringing to the microphone a thoughtful lyricism absent from the work of much of hip-hop's contemporary practitioners. Thankfully for lovers of hip-hop and anyone interested in what the genre sounded like at its artistic zenith, Murray has stubbornly refused to fade away. The nasal-voiced Long Island native continues to let fly the same witty, loose-lipped verbal assaults that made his debut album, The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World, go gold in the '90s. There are times, of course, when Murray's verse — much like that of Redman and Erick Sermon, the other members of the Def Squad triumvirate — unwittingly stumbles into self-caricature. But that's a mere blemish on an otherwise stainless relic.

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