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 Murrays Revenge, the follow up to 2004s highly-praised 3:16: The 9th Edition. 9th Wonder, the man responsible for 3:16s 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 Murrays 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 youve released. What did working with 9th Wonder bring out of you that wasnt there before?
Murs: The beats were better. Ive been telling the same stories my whole career, so I dont think its 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: Ive 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 dont want to roll up to a stop light and see that the car next to me has a little kid in it while Im bumping 50 Cent or Suga Free, because he really doesnt 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 youre 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. Its 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. Thats also one of the reasons I tried to stop saying n***a on record because those aint my n***as, you know? Some of my other friends that are artists like Jean [Grae] avoid saying it because it just doesnt fit the situation. I know if I was a white person, I wouldnt 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 Im not with my friends, I feel like whatever record label Im 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 theres 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 youre involved in every tour. Why hit the road so hard?
Murs: I wish I had an answer for that cause I dont know myself. Labels feel like thats the best way to promote, which I dont really agree with cause whenever we go on tour, it seems like its the same kids coming out to the same shows. Dont get me wrong, because we have great shows and its a lot of fun, but I feel like were just preaching to the choir now. The only reason Im going on the tour that Im about to go on now is that theres 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 Im not, so it looks like Im going to have to sell my dog or give him away, which sucks. You cant keep a steady girlfriend, because you cant maintain a relationship when youre across the country. And Im 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. Were both just so busy so it was never possible. He draws bigger crowds than me, but its not like either of us had to do it. It wasnt really something we needed to do because of the crowds we draw [on our own] are good.
AllHipHop.com: Youre 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, Youre at this label and this aint the end all be all for you. Im showing them what Ive 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, Ill get where I need to be, so right now Im just focused on the things Im currently doing.
AllHipHop.com: So Im guessing youre probably already working on your next project.
Murs: Yeah, Im working on an album thats going to be a little more traditional West Coast Hip-Hop, so it wont be a 9th Wonder produced album. Thats going to be a Murs record since Im going to be doing the beats myself. Again, I dont like to predict the future of anything, but its going to have the feel of a gangsta album. Not that Im trying to be gangsta by any means because Im not, but I like the feel of that music. When Im not playing Jack Johnson or some Rock music my friends put me on to, Im 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 Murrays 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 didnt 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 hed never been to prison before. Nobody cared. Im not trying to be anything that Im not and Im not trying to misrepresent myself in anyway, but like how Curtis Mayfield just told a story and told it like it is, thats what Im 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 Ive done was about me. The only thing that was changed was the names to protect the guilty and the innocent. But Ive been around the country and the world and been exposed to a lot of peoples stories. Not everybody has the talent to rhyme, so I feel like sometimes, its 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 its Bad Man or Silly Girl or whatever, its 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 Im a gangster, fine; think Im a backpacker, fine. Thats who I am, so I really dont mind that people think that way about me.
AllHipHop.com: But isnt having two sides kind of what youre known for?
Murs: In a way, it is kind of contradictory, but its real. I push my backpack side because its part of me and the street side is a part of me too. Thats just being human. If anything, I do kind of push my backpacker side more because I feel like thats 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 cant I have different sides and show them day-to-day?