Mura Masa’s debut has been a long time coming. With hits flying out of his factory, Alex Crossan is no stranger to collaborations that create a whirlwind of electronically-infused beats combined with pop melodies.
While singles with the likes of Nao and A$AP Rocky represent the core of Mura Masa’s career to date, it’s the more experimental and, perhaps, niche projects that stand out on his self-titled debut. Notably the biggest surprise may be the appearance of one half of the prestigious Paul Institute. A.K. Paul’s five-minute moment on the album turns ‘Who Is It Gonna B’ in to a soulfully-driven, Jamie XX style number. Though it may seem more slow-tempo and darker than other duets, this is the one that strikingly grabs you by the hand and guides you through to a new dimension. Think the transition from Shangi-Hell to Shangri-Heaven.
It seems its the soulful energy flowing out of the record that stands out. Jamie Lidell’s collaboration on ‘NOTHING ELSE!’ brings the whole album to life. Sitting comfortably at the centre point, this is a certified anthem that gives no leeway for anymore personality to be injected in to it. What suddenly becomes clear is that the second half of Mura Masa is a lot more confident. It responds positively to experimentation and is fuelled by a visionary mind. As Lidell’s vocals fade out and Tom Tripp begins to appear, the excitement builds. Through sun-kissed chords and lo-fi beats, by track nine you start to realise just what Mura Masa is about.
Though there are collabs aplenty on this record, it takes a lot for these to become effective. Even if ‘Firefly’ and ‘Love$ick’ are breakthroughs for the 21-year-old DJ and producer, they come as nothing new, leaving the wow factor in the last couple of years. It’s evident that, with the likes of Damon Albarn joining forces on the closing track, Crossan’s ability to entertain lies solely in the crafty experiments he conducts within his music, without following the guidelines of the genre. When he’s trying to create his own path and ignore the other superstars around him, he comes in to his own.