Keith Murray: Form Of Intellect

Since coming into the game, Keith Murray has always strived to separate himself from the pack. Although not always for his music, the Long Island, NY native with the extensive vocabulary and clever wordplay has managed to do so over the years. After serving time for his alleged involvement in a bar fight only to be released from this then Def Jam record label for supposedly choking out a street team member, many fans wondered if Keith would ever see through the accolades he received for albums like The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World and Enigma. Four years passed between the release of 2003’s He’s Keith Murray and 2007’s Rap-Murr-Phobia (Fear of Real Hip Hop). It seems as if Murray has grown from his troubled past and is looking to build on his still thriving career. His latest effort, Intellectual Violence, will serve as his second offering since ‘07. With another album on the way fans won’t be kept waiting long for new music. That’s a beautiful thing. You’re most well known for your use of words you don’t hear ordinarily rappers use in their rhymes. What made you choose this particular style? Keith Murray: That came from looking at the game and being a part of it, as far as being a fan. Looking at it as a fan I learned that originality comes first. I wanted to come up with a style different from anybody that was out there. So I gravitated towards spitting differently by using the You’ve had your share of hit records and been featured on a good amount of hit records, so why do you feel it is that you haven’t gained that mainstream success?Keith Murray: The promotions will get you far. And there is a big difference in how far you’ll go when someone works a record and when someone doesn’t work the record. I been caught up in politics, red tape, things of that nature. The politics is another big part of things that can mess up your situation, by the way. "The idea that I can come out with music that people will genuinely love

and listen to, that’s always made aware to me when I’m out in the

street." With that in mind, what is it that keeps you coming back?Keith Murray: What keeps me coming back is knowing that I have a higher level to go on and more things to achieve. The idea that I can come out with music that people will genuinely love and listen to, that’s always made aware to me when I’m out in the street. People always approach me and tell me how they like my songs like “Candy Bar” or some of my albums, people still love Enigma. So I know there’s always an audience out Were you happy with how your last album, Rap-Murr-Phobia was received? Keith Murray: The album had real good reviews and the single did good on the radio but you need to look at the game. I went with the independent distribution through Koch. I came from a major. I would love to see my album have the success I saw when I was on the major but realistically I know I’m not on a major label. If you look at the numbers, I mean, I didn’t get what I’d get upfront when I was on a major but Koch definitely gets you money on the back end. You’ll get the money but you won’t get the exposure, you won’t be out there like the artists major labels deal with. I looked at both sides before I went to Koch. I went to Koch because I knew what I had. The reviews was banging. Everybody loved the record. They were putting in like $300,000 to $500,000 in promotions and putting in about $500,000 to one million dollars in radio. They get what they can get off the name, get their return, cutting me a check and waiting on me to come back with another one like that. That’s the nature of their business. At a major I’d have been in the hole for like two million dollars or something crazy like that. I would have sold records and got an advance but the difference is I’d have gotten more shows because the radio and video exposure would have lasted longer. My record got added to radio but if they’re not paying that money, radio [is not] going to be pushing to keep playing it. If you’re not paying to promote it on the street level, fans aren’t going to know the record’s there. Without that money people are going to be like, “I heard it, it was dope.” And then it passes. That’s the nature of the business brother. So now I got to come So will this new project be mixtape or an album?Keith Murray: Intellectual Violence, yhis is a mixtape in the form of an album. Songs I’ve done while recording my album and songs I’ve done just thinking, “Let me go do a mixtape.” I had all the songs ready and when they heard the mixtape they were like, “Yo, this is an album.” Either way I feel like this tape needs to be heard. It deserves to be How does this differ from your last album?Keith Murray: It’s more intricate. I talk about a lot more situations. Situations like going to jail, I use bigger vocabulary, it’s more conceptual. It’s really unconscious. It’s for my core audience and not mainstream America. It will also serve as a way to keep the buzz going until my next “mainstream” album called Beautifully Ugly. Hopefully that’ll be out the end of third You mentioned your incarceration earlier but I wanted to ask you about how you felt about the whole Prodigy situation and what advice you might have for him.Keith Murray: He got three and a half right? So he got to do how much percent of his time? He got three and a half years but I think he has to do like 18 to 24 months of that.Keith Murray: Prodigy been around the block a couple times man. Don’t sleep. People always say to keep your head up but there really ain’t nothing for him to do in there but keep his head up. He’ll be aight.“The industry has changed and Hip-Hop has expanded. It’s evolved. The artist has to adapt if he wants to get a deal at a label.” You were on Jive and Def Jam when they were more Hip-Hop oriented. But over the years it seems like they’ve chosen to focus more on their R&B acts. What are some things you feel have changed in regards to your former labels? Keith Murray: The workers. The workers don’t get behind your ideas anymore. The industry has changed and Hip-Hop has expanded. It’s evolved. The artist has to adapt if he wants to get a deal at a label. Whether it’s a major or an indie because even Koch is turning down records. You just don’t go to Koch and get a deal. You may have a fanbase and all that but you still have to connect with them. Most of my fans didn’t even know when Rap-Murr-Phobia came out because my promotions went but so far. They pick the places where they think you’re going to sell records at, work those areas for three months, then move on. If you want people to pay attention to you you’ve got to be out there. Artists like me get their sales from performances. When I perform I put on a show. That has enabled me to last. When I go do promotions and shows or wherever I am called to be, I’m promoting my album. Then I watch the album sell each week because I went out and did shows. Those shows equal sales and more money for me on the back end being independent. It’s a whole other game my n***a and people need to know that. A lot of people don’t know the ins and outs. If people knew all the work and the politics and s**t artists have to go through people would support artists So would you advise a new artist to go the indie route?Keith Murray: It works both ways. Whatever route you take you have to know how to work it. It may work for me right now being independent. But of course I’m never satisfied. I’m looking to do more and I need to look at what steps I need to take and go from there. If I go to the major, I get the advance but they get half of the show money, ringtones, and all that. If that’s how you do it, you got to make it work for you. And that’s bad because some artists don’t do shows. They just wait for the record to blow up then just rely on the label but that might work if the record pops off. My little brother, D. Murray is coming. He’s being produced by me and Erick [Sermon]. He needs that accolade. He needs to know the number game. What other projects are you and Erick Sermon working on?Keith Murray: He did my album, he’s working on Meth and Red’s album, he’s doing EPMD and then we’re doing a new Def Squad album. How’s the Def Squad project coming?Keith Murray: It’s coming along kind of slow. We’re just taking our time and putting together ideas because we ain’t been out since ’98. It’s time. It’s been like 10 years. I know the fans will love to see you guys out again.Keith Murray: That’s one thing about Def Squad, we’ve always been show driven. Overseas is really popping for us right now. What’s some of the major differences between the Hip-Hop scene here and the scene overseas?Keith Murray: Over here it’s faster than overseas. The records we get here travel later. They’re kind of picking up on a lot of stuff Americans had for a long time. Like, I been dropped Rap-Murr-Phobia out here but out there, they’re just really getting Is there a difference in how the fans receive the music?I’m not trying to brag or nothing but I get love all over. East coast, west coast, down south and all that. People that know me, see me, and talk to me love me. When we do shows we rock out hard body. I can’t say that they love me more than the fans do in America. Those that love the form of Hip-Hop I do, I get the same love from them everywhere. The one difference is I do bigger shows overseas than I do here. What’s one of the most memorable shows you’ve done?Keith Murray: Coming out on Apollo with Mary J. and KRS-One was in the audience cheering me on. That and the show I did a few months ago with EPMD in London. Big Daddy Kane brought me out and spit like three 16’s over a beat to a packed crowd. It was crazy. Who would figure Big Daddy Kane, now, in ’08 still getting love like that? It’s crazy. Considering you two cross paths semi-frequently while on tour, would you do the song now?Keith Murray: Most definitely. My cousin always says me, KRS-One, Chuck D. and Big Daddy Kane should do it. I don’t think people would understand or appreciate that because we’re in a time where people forgot about the history of Hip-Hop. Fans of Rock & Roll, young or grown up, they know Rock & Roll. Our youth, they come up short in that aspect. But like I said, now it’s a business. Everybody is looking at that bottom line. They don’t care about having a career, the culture being preserved and taught, or the advancement of it. They’re looking at how much we can make. Some artists will come through and try to do something significant but for most, it’s about the bottom line.[Keith Murray "U Ain't No Gangsta"][Keith Murray "Don't Hate Me Cause I'm Beautiful"]