2004 is the year of perfect hip-hop pairings. First, MF Doom and Madlib find their pre-destined match with Madvillain, and now Murs-the most promising rapper to emerge from the West Coast in years-meets Little Brother’s 9th Wonder, a producer who can provide him with musical empathy and an album’s worth of dynamic, soulful, timeless beats. Murs is still hungry, but a tad more in control on Murs 3:16, and the result is a must-own album full of visceral, situational rap. From “The Rain”‘s effortless reconciliation of Murs’ sensitive side to “And This If For”‘s frank discussion of the black and white divide, this is essential stuff.