There are very few emcees who kicked in the door with a gold album debut in the early ’90s and still have hip-hop heads lining up for live shows and anticipating upcoming projects in 2015. But Long Island native Keith Murray isn’t your average rapper.
Murray’s winning formula of raspy vocals, extensive vocabulary (including plenty of words he invented), and an unorthodox rhyme style has made him a cult favorite since he blew up the scene with his first Eric Sermon-assisted solo single, “The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World.” From there, the “Philly Blunt King’s” career blossomed with more solid albums; collaborations with R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige, and LL Cool J; and a memorable run as one-third of the supergroup Def Squad with Redman and Sermon.
During a recent visit to Atlanta, Murray’s itinerary included rocking a packed show at Aisle 5 alongside affiliates of the Zulu Nation; setting up the blueprints for his new solo project and Hit Squad reunion album (Def Squad plus Das EFX, PMD, and others); and, of course, a music-inspired beer tasting with FWF’s Southern beer correspondent, Ale Sharpton.
Setting up shop at The Porter—one of the country’s most revered beer bars—Ale selected a diverse roster of craft brews to present to the hip-hop icon. The mission was simple: Murray had to tell us what he tasted in the glass, than explain which hip-hop artist the beer made him think of.
From a Nicki Minaj-esque wheat beer to quad that channels R.A. the Rugged Man, here are Keith Murray’s tasting notes.
21st Amendment Hell Or High Watermelon Wheat
From: San Francisco, CA
Keith: “I ain’t gonna lie, but the first emcees I thought about here were Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliot because they got those pink pussies! [Laughter erupts in the room.] I mean juicy! I don’t discriminate. I see beauty in everybody!”
Victory Golden Monkey Tripel
From: Downingtown, PA
Keith: “Oh man, this is light but kinda spicy. I spent a lot of time with the Belgians. I get the ‘Jump Around’ guys from this…”
Ale: “House of Pain?”
Keith: “Yeah! And on the female side, it’s raw and potent, so Rah Digga for sure.”
[Some of the entourage starts yelling out their emcee comparisons and Keith immediately hushes them so he can focus and get his own opinion out first. “Y’all doing the adlibs before I lay the verses,” he says with a smirk, but clearly not kidding. “This is a Keith Murray interview with Ale Sharpton! If y’all do that I will clear the room if I have to.” Apologies and crickets ensue. Keith does not fuck around.]
Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer
From: Scotland, UK
Keith: “This is dark. It’s starting to look a little Guinness-y style.”
Ale: “Yep! The roasting of the barley and rum barrel-aging brings out that rich color.”
Keith: [Breaking out in a rhyme] “Bourbon, barley, and smoking Marley…“
[Ale has Murray clasp the glass to warm it up, then inhale the aroma.]
Keith: “I get, like…bark.”
Ale: “It’s rum barrel-aged. You are on point, bro.”
Keith: [Staring at the glass pensively after sipping.] “That’s Keith Murray! I am Jamaican-oriented, [and] it’s mental-heavy, ever ready…”
Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA
ABV: 7.2% ABV
From: San Diego, CA
Ale: “Now we move to the fragrant, bold, hop-dominant beers called IPAs.”
Keith: “One of my best friends’ name is Hops. A Latin cat. Let’s go! Mmmmm…this one smells sweet. I am thinking honey, citrusy…definitely MAJOR grapefruit. Wow! If I was in my yard, a yellow jacket would be flying around me. [Takes a sip.] Whoa! That’s Trina! [Singing.] Pull over, that ass too fat! Whoop, whoop! I got goosebumps from this! [He literally did.] I would drink a gallon of ‘Trina.’”
Ale: “You are officially a hop head.”
Three Taverns Quasimodo Quadrupel
From: Decatur, GA
Ale: “This is the closer and one of the most popular beers in the state. This is the Quasimodo. It’s a quad.”
Keith: “This is very dark. When I smell it I get Fig Newtons. Straight up.”
Ale: “Bong, bong! Dark fruits are the usual suspects with quads.”
Keith: “It attacks, but it releases real quick. Something pops off on the tongue.”
Ale: “Maybe some cognac notes?”
Keith: “You right! Kind of a cognac essence. Beautiful. You know who this is? R.A. the Rugged Man. It’s rugged. That’s a good friend of mine. On the female side, I get Iggy Azalea, ’cause she’s spicy, stinky, trampy… [Ale hands him a signature Three Taverns opener as a parting gift.] Oh word? I need this! I usually use lighters and seatbelts. Beautiful. Thanks, Ale.”
Follow Keith Murray on Twitter (@keithmurrayrap).