"Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition" Taught Me to Love Hip-Hop & Myself

Twelve years ago, Murs and 9th dropped an album that changed my life forever and that's not just empty talk. It really did.
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Twelve years ago, Murs and 9th dropped an album that changed my life forever and that's not just empty talk. It really did.

You know the drill by now.

Every time an album anniversary happens the rap world kicks into high gear; tweets, articles, pictures, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to celebrate dope hip-hop, but quite often it doesn't feel sincere. I wonder how many people who fire off tweets or write articles really love the music, or are just doing it to keep their seat at the cool kids table and snag a few pageviews? Saying “This album changed my life” is easy, but how often do we really mean it? 

Well, Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition changed my life. Really.

I can say, without hesitation, that without this album I wouldn’t be writing for a hip-hop site. It’s not the only album that lead me down this path, but it is definitely one of the pillars. Without it I wouldn’t have any interest in spending sleepless nights pouring over samples or finding the next Murs. The feeling that 9th’s sample work on “3:16” gives me is indescribable, even to this day. His beat on “Animal” is amazing to zone out to; I love the way it gives this stark, echoing feel without sacrificing its kick. I remember the exact moment I heard “Bad Man,” the way that beat bounces is too much.

Murs is equally as impressive on the mic. "3:16" wouldn’t hit as hard if it weren't for his, "Slave to the rhythm 9th spark that whip,” one of my favorite lines ever. His storytelling on “Trevor an’ Them” and “Walk Like A Man” is second to none and I love how the latter openly wrestles with masculinity. The pictures he paints, the stories he tells, I had never heard that kind of rap before. Save for Tupac, I had also never heard a rapper approach relationships and women like Murs. In one breath he’s lamenting the struggles of finding someone (“The Pain”) and in the next he’s boasting about sexual conquests on “Freak These Tales” and both feel genuine. It was honest and heartfelt, but never sappy or overdramatic.  

From the beats, to the lyrics, to the storytelling, this album was a blueprint for every artist, producer or fan to follow. Engaging, thoughtful, raunchy and it just fucking knocks. It changed my life because it was one of the first "underground" rap albums I heard and it sparked my curiosity. It taught me about samples, storytelling, and inventive ways to use glow sticks. The 9th Edition changed my life because it taught me about hip-hop, but what it really did was teach me about myself.

Anniversaries are a chance to look back at an artist and an album, but I’m so close with this project I couldn’t help but look back at myself. The 9th Edition was about samples and rhymes, but it was also about much more. Throughout high school and college I never felt like I was where I should be, never felt comfortable. I was constantly trying to fit in but never quite could; a day late and a dollar short. Different. An underdog. I turned to rap to escape. Nas, Jay, Three 6, they all made me feel good because they transported me into a different world, but it wasn’t until The 9th Edition that I could cope with the world I was in. Hearing a rapper rhyme about not getting girls connected with me more than hearing one rhyme about grabbing models - I hate to admit it, but I was more Coldplay than Too Short - but it was more than that. Murs was different, but instead of shying away from it, hiding it under chains and steel, he embraced it. I admired that about him. I tried to emulate it. In some ways I did.

Thanks to The 9th Edition I embraced my differences and started to learn more about hip-hop, ultimately this lead to hip-hop becoming my life, which lead me to interviewing the same producer behind the album that changed my life. Moments like those, moments where I write an impactful piece, land a dope interview, or get backstage at a show, give me the confidence in myself to keep going at my own pace, on my own path. There’s not as much money in being different, but there’s a value in being comfortable in your own skin, in finding yourself and doing the thing you want to do that no paycheck could ever buy.

Thanks in large part to Murs and 9th I found myself to be hip-hop and it’s why I try so hard to be different in my writing; I owe it to Murs, to 9th, and to the culture itself to embrace that difference. The 9th Edition opened the door to the underground hip-hop world where weird and different could be celebrated and it opened the door into seeing to a world where I was able to be myself. I love that world so much I made it my home. Since The 9th Edition, I’ve build my home into a mansion. It’s built on the bars of Murs, Oddisee, Rapsody, K.R.I.T and many more. It's insulated by the soulful samples of 9th, Blaze, Dilla, and Nujabes. No matter how big the house gets, no matter how many renovations I make, the 9th Edition will always be the foundation I build on. 

Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition changed my life. Maybe it could change yours too. The great thing about a classic is that it’s never too late.

Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth. His favorite album is College Dropout but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth. Image via Instagram.