Murs Says Don't Write Music If You "Don't Have Shit to Say"
In this week's issue, we profile Arizona-based rapper Murs. Some great stuff got left on the cutting-room floor, so in this installment of Outtakes, we'll crack open the tape recorder and let a whole bunch of good material that didn't make the print edition see the light of day.
One of rap's great raconteurs, Murs lived a nomadic existence as a youth, never staying in one place for more than a few years at a time. Forced to adapt as the perennial new dude, he brings similar flexibility to his music. Soul love jams, gangsta provocation, herb-soaked chillin', limber wordplay, and conscious science all jostle for position like schoolmates in a lunch line.
The L.A.-based rapper broke in during the '90s, hooking up with Eligh and Scarub at Alexander Hamilton High School to form 3 Melancholy Gypsys and later with Bay Area brethren in the Living Legends crew (before dropping out last year). He adopted their prolific work ethic producing a prodigious catalog that's made him an underground icon.
He made his solo debut F'Real in '97, and has remained wildly prolific ever since. Not only has he lit eight solo joints (including a brief major label turn with 2008's Murs for President) and 8 EPs, but collaborated with 9th Wonder on six discs (the last, The Final Adventure, came in November), Atmosphere's Slug on three discs under the name Felt, and the last couple years, Terrace Martin (2011's Melrose), and Fashawn (2012's This Generation). It'd be even impressive had his laptop not been lifted three years ago, taking a half-dozen more albums of material.
Murs also founded the annual multi-faceted festival Paid Dues in 2006 in California and has since taken it across America and overseas. He's looking to sequel last year Ski Beatz-produced solo album, Love + Rockets, Vol I: The Transformation, "sooner than later," and hopes to one day follow up his new graphic novel, Yumiko: Curse of the Merch Girl.
We spoke to Murs in Tucson, which he now calls home.
On Comics and His Nerdy Dreams:
"It was a crazy thing for me to have my own booth at Comicon last summer. My partner who does Devil's Due Press, the comic book company, was very helpful and sharing a booth with him was amazing, a dream come true... I would love to write comic books maybe one day but for now I want to enjoy it. But if the opportunity came up I might do another one, though I wouldn't combine it with music [Yumiko is accompanied by an album of music, natch]... I'd like to do comic book just as an art form, go to Comicon and have conversations about Battlestar Galactica afterwards.
Music Isn't For Kids:
"The pop songs that were written [in the past] were written by older people with more experience and something to say. The Temptations weren't singing their own words when they were 17, they were singing the words of older people. Older people were writing their music. Young people shouldn't be able to write music if you don't have shit to say. Technically [hip-hop] shouldn't have been given the microphone because music is an oral tradition for those who have matured."
Inspiration for Paid Dues' diversity:
"[I saw] Kid'n Play, Too Short, Queen Latifah and NWA all on the same floor with X-Plan and Digital Underground. I was like, '"what the fuck?" That's my inspiration - that's how I want people to look at Paid Dues. People telling me I've sold out and gone mainstream. I'm fine with that because I know that there's still Grieves and someone from Doomtee on the bill along with Dipset, along with Odd Future along with Kendrick Lamar along with Mac Miller."
On His Career:
"Just being around Snoop Dogg and seeing that he has to be 'on' every minute. At one point the rumor was - and we had the same manager -- that he slept for two hours four times a day, and that was the only way he could get any sleep. He works so hard... My career has been what it's been but I wouldn't trade it for Snoop Dogg's. I don't know if I'm built that way. Life it gives you your own path. I think I work just as hard in my own way and I don't think that Snoop or Eminem could do what I do and I definitely don't think I could do what they do."
Murs is scheduled to perform Tuesday, February 5, at Club Red in Tempe.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.