The buzz surrounding electro-pop producer Mura Masa, 21 year-old Guernsey-born Alex Crossan, has been intensifying for years now. From instrumental ‘Lotus Eater’ being picked up by Radio 1 DJ’s to producing a standout performance in the Californian desert at Coachella earlier this year, Mura Masa’s rise has been meteoric.
Fresh and diverse Mura Masa has crafted a record that just as adequately harnesses the energetic, bombastic ‘mumble rap’ of Desiigner and the mournful, melodic pop of Christine and the Queens. Pushing the aforementioned Brooklyn hip-hop star into unchartered territory, Mura Masa has produced Desiigner’s most comprehensible performance to date without losing the charm of the young rapper’s feverish ad-libs.
While A$AP Rocky’s verses of ‘Love$ick’ were recorded in Abbey Road, Crossan prefers to shun the studio, sculpting the majority of his music on his laptop. Unashamedly a ‘bedroom beats’ artist, Mura Masa cultivated his following on platforms such as Soundcloud. Crossan’s artistry lies in his ability to blend together sounds and samples from across genres of world music. On tracks like ‘Second 2 None’ Crossan blends jungle snares with Christine and the Queens piercingly melancholic vocals. ‘Mura Masa’ is a record packed with pop-perfection. Crossan embraces the eclectic origins of pop music, cultivating a fresh sound in masterfully fusing genres as diverse as trap, calypso and funk into a single track.
‘Mura Masa’ is a nuanced record, packed with a firm originality and energy, a far cry from the insipid electro-pop pumped out by soulless commercial titans such as The Chainsmokers. Mura Masa ‘future styles’ album hops from genre to genre with effortless ease. The dynamic producer even picked up a credit on mainstream grime behemoth Stormzy’s number one album earlier this year.
‘Mura Masa’ is a nuanced record, packed with a firm originality and energy
In the absence of a tight, cohesive lyrical narrative Crossan’s record is bound together by a sense uncertainty and fragility that permeates throughout the record. Each of Crossan’s collaborators feed into this tension. Each snapshot is masterfully curated by Crossan’s production.
A standout feature from rap heavyweight A$AP Rocky brings a braggadocios swagger to his verses on ‘Love$ick’. Rocky’s tight rhymes and sharp wordplay, “I heard your man ain’t home, now you melatone”, sharply juxtapose the tension of the songs hook and pre-hook. Crossan’s pitched up vocals ethereally declare “I need you” and “I want you” while Rocky insecurely murmurs “Man, I swear to god, she gon’ miss me when I’m gone”. The tracks production is characteristically phenomenal. Kick drums rattle throughout and a tight piano riff morphs into seamlessly steel drums.
Even Bonzai’s sleek, confident feature on ‘Nuggets’ fades into the raw, intimacy of the of the Irish artist conversationally reminiscing about “being young and happy and having no problems” before “everyone’s fucked”.
‘Mura Masa’ is a hugely ambitious debut album and it would be easy for Crossan’s own production to be obscured by a record crammed with such diverse sounds and a plethora of superstar features. But Mura Masa knows when to be bombastically maximalist, bass pulsates, sirens screech and flutes rattle over Desiigner’s chorus in ‘All Around The World’ and when to pare it back. The albums closing track ‘Blu’ has a simple, woozy instrumental foregrounding Damon Albarn’s vocals.
Framed by the sounds of everyday life, the album opens with a recording of a bus stop South-East London, and closes with the muffled noise of conversation. ‘Mura Masa’ is a tapestry of emotion and experiences weaved together by Crossan’s skilled instrumentation and production.