Murs: Dreamchaser

Murs is a hustler. Sure, plenty of people make the claim these days, but few have his work ethic. As a full-time MC, A&R, and host on Current TV, the man is everywhere. He has released 11 solo projects in 10 years, and contributed to several more albums as a member of the groups Living Legends, 3MG, and Felt. When does Murs take a break? Never. The LA native spends at least 200 days on tour each year and passes through more cities than a presidential candidate.

Murs is set to start yet another campaign to promote Murray’s Revenge, the follow up to 2004’s highly-praised 3:16: The 9th Edition. 9th Wonder, the man responsible for 3:16’s soul-infused beats, returns to provide a platform for the blend of honesty and storytelling that made the album a success. AllHipHop.com spoke with Murs about Murray’s Revenge and the fights he has while working with 9th, and discovered that he is already plotting his next move. Murs is thinking two steps ahead – the true sign of a hustler.

AllHipHop.com: 3:16 was the most acclaimed album you’ve released. What did working with 9th Wonder bring out of you that wasn’t there before?

Murs: The beats were better. I’ve been telling the same stories my whole career, so I don’t think it’s that he brought anything out of me. I know I can write my ass off, and I think it was just that I finally found somebody who could produce as well as I can write.

AllHipHop.com: This is the first album in a minute to not need a Parental Advisory sticker. Why is there no profanity?

Murs: I’ve always been a huge fan of Will Smith, one of the greatest rappers of all-time, and he never had to curse all the time to get his point across. A lot of my friends have kids, and I felt guilty about having it in my records. I don’t want to roll up to a stop light and see that the car next to me has a little kid in it while I’m bumping 50 Cent or Suga Free, because he really doesn’t need to hear that. There was a time where you had to not curse in order to be on the radio but Ice Cube did it anyway and it became okay. With this album, I feel like I was able to be just as affective and aggressive as I was on 3:16 without needing to be vulgar.

AllHipHop.com: When you do a show and see white faces in the crowd, do you worry about if they get what you’re trying to say with “And This is For” or “Dark Skinned White Girls?”

Murs: I never started to think about that until now, because to do a song like “Dream Chasers” in front of an all-white crowd is like a Christian preaching to the Nation of Islam. It’s like an evangelist trying to talk to Minister Farrakhan, man. I know they can appreciate it as a dope song, but I wonder if they can relate. That’s also one of the reasons I tried to stop saying ‘n***a’ on record because those ain’t my n***as, you know? Some of my other friends that are artists like Jean [Grae] avoid saying it because it just doesn’t fit the situation. I know if I was a white person, I wouldn’t want to be referred to as n***a.

AllHipHop.com: Speaking of race, do you think Crash accurately portrayed relations in LA?

Murs: Oh, yeah.

AllHipHop.com: Did you think about tackling that issue when you recorded “LA?”

Murs: I was just going off the sample saying, “No matter what.” We got a style out here where if any man or woman is from LA, you can just tell. If I had started talking about [race relations in LA], the song would be totally different. To do something like Crash did and do it justice musically, it would take up a whole album. Who knows? Maybe I might do something like that one day.

AllHipHop.com: Why did you switch from Def Jux to Record Collection?

Murs: As long as I’m not with my friends, I feel like whatever record label I’m on is like the toilet I choose to take a s**t on. I moved to another machine in order to get more records out and advance a little bit, but there’s as much significance to the label you release your music through as there is to the toilet you s**t on.

AllHipHop.com: It seems like you’re involved in every tour. Why hit the road so hard?

Murs: I wish I had an answer for that ‘cause I don’t know myself. Labels feel like that’s the best way to promote, which I don’t really agree with cause whenever we go on tour, it seems like it’s the same kids coming out to the same shows. Don’t get me wrong, because we have great shows and it’s a lot of fun, but I feel like we’re just preaching to the choir now. The only reason I’m going on the tour that I’m about to go on now is that there’s a group we have signed called Supreme. The best way to promote them and help them build is through the tour. Bring them out on the road so they can see things and get their name out.

AllHipHop.com: How does all the touring affect your life at home?

Murs: Well, I thought I was going to have a van so I could bring my dog with me but I’m not, so it looks like I’m going to have to sell my dog or give him away, which sucks. You can’t keep a steady girlfriend, because you can’t maintain a relationship when you’re across the country. And I’m not the type to leave a show and want to go out and meet a new chick every single night, like where the ladies at? The road definitely strains things.

AllHipHop.com: How come Paid Dues was the first time Felt performed together?

Murs: Recording the first album was just fun and people liked it enough that we made another one. We’re both just so busy so it was never possible. He draws bigger crowds than me, but it’s not like either of us had to do it. It wasn’t really something we needed to do because of the crowds we draw [on our own] are good.

AllHipHop.com: You’re an A&R at Record Collection now. Do you see yourself as a full-time exec and no longer rapping in the near future?

Murs: I think I can be a great A&R cause I can take a group and tell them, “You’re at this label and this ain’t the end all be all for you.” I’m showing them what I’ve learned and what I think. But at the same time, I try not to look too far ahead into the future. Through hard work and the grace of God, I’ll get where I need to be, so right now I’m just focused on the things I’m currently doing.

AllHipHop.com: So I’m guessing you’re probably already working on your next project.

Murs: Yeah, I’m working on an album that’s going to be a little more traditional West Coast Hip-Hop, so it won’t be a 9th Wonder produced album. That’s going to be a Murs record since I’m going to be doing the beats myself. Again, I don’t like to predict the future of anything, but it’s going to have the feel of a gangsta album. Not that I’m trying to be gangsta by any means because I’m not, but I like the feel of that music. When I’m not playing Jack Johnson or some Rock music my friends put me on to, I’m most likely listening to West Coast stuff. E-40 is one of my favorite rappers.

AllHipHop.com: What were you listening to when you recorded Murray’s Revenge?

Murs: Curtis Mayfield. I love his music because he was able to tell it like it is with his stories. He made “Pusher Man” and that was not his life at all, but it didn’t matter because he made it seem like it was. Look at Johnny Cash when he made “Folsom Prison Blues” about being in jail and then people found out he’d never been to prison before. Nobody cared. I’m not trying to be anything that I’m not and I’m not trying to misrepresent myself in anyway, but like how Curtis Mayfield just told a story and told it like it is, that’s what I’m trying to do.

AllHipHop.com: I can see a connection with how you adopt another identity on certain songs on this album.

Murs: Up until this album, every song I’ve done was about me. The only thing that was changed was the names to protect the guilty and the innocent. But I’ve been around the country and the world and been exposed to a lot of people’s stories. Not everybody has the talent to rhyme, so I feel like sometimes, it’s dope to tell that story. I consider myself a good writer and I think that I make music well enough that somebody can hear my songs and just appreciate it.

AllHipHop.com: Is that why you call your music “sitcom rap”?

Murs: My music is situational comedy. Whether it’s “Bad Man” or “Silly Girl” or whatever, it’s just real situations that you could be in. Like I have friends tell me that I push my backpacker side way too hard and I have people tell me I push my street side too hard. If you think I’m a gangster, fine; think I’m a backpacker, fine. That’s who I am, so I really don’t mind that people think that way about me.

AllHipHop.com: But isn’t having two sides kind of what you’re known for?

Murs: In a way, it is kind of contradictory, but it’s real. I push my backpack side because it’s part of me and the street side is a part of me too. That’s just being human. If anything, I do kind of push my backpacker side more because I feel like that’s more positive, and not to down anything else as negative, but [the backpacker side] is what a lot more people can relate to and feel. That represents me, so why can’t I have different sides and show them day-to-day?

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