Murs
Where I Belong

murs-1.jpgWith album sales plummeting and the media declaring hip-hop as public enemy No.1, the stage is set for a new MC to emerge as an alternative to gangsta rap. Oddly enough, Murs might be that artist. The eccentric MCs 1997 solo debut, F’Real, introduced him as one of those “other” Los Angeles rappers who didn’t rock bandanas or gang bang. It wasn’t until his 2003 release, The End of the Beginning (Def Jux Records), however, that his subterranean identity began to rise above ground. His Home Alone meets Animal House themed video for the single, “Risky Business,” featured Shock G (Humpty Hump) of Digital Underground and became a BET Uncut favorite. Murs then began to enjoy more semi-commercial success when he hooked up with producer 9th Wonder for 2004’s critically acclaimed, Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition, and 2006′s Murray’s Revenge. Earlier this month the 29-year-old MC announced he’s signed with Warner Bros. Records and will release his first major label album, Murs For President, later this year. XXLMag.com talks with the frizzy-haired MC about making the transition to a major label, his new album and why hip-hop isn’t selling.

The title of your new album — Murs For President — hints it will be another conceptual record. Are you saying hip-hop should elect you to save the day?
It’s not going to be a record where I’m putting myself above anyone else. I’m not saving the world. I’m not making [De La Soul’s] Stakes Is High or [Nas’] Hip Hop Is Dead. I’m not making complaint rap. I just want to make songs. I’m focused on making The Beatles type of stuff. I want to be known as a songwriter. So my album isn’t gonna be a whole bunch of complaining. Rap is the only music that’s self-referencing. You don’t hear artists in other genres complaining about the state of their music. In rap it’s all about “you” and right now, it’s very selfish music. I got songs [on my album] about being a felon and not getting hired for work. I’ve got a song rapping from the point of view of a homeless man. I dig deep for concepts. I want to show that hip-hop isn’t all bad. It’s alive and well, just badly misrepresented.

Now that you’ve signed with Warner Bros. Records, should people still expect an underground feel to your album or will the formula change?
I don’t listen to underground rap. I’m not a big fan of it, honestly. So don’t expect that. I listen to gangsta rap, that’s what I’m into. I’m still gonna write great songs and I’m gonna be just as entertaining. With this deal, now I got a budget to get what I want as far as producers are concerned. When I recorded with 9th [Wonder], it was pretty much him telling me what to do. But I haven’t been able to rep me, yet. I want to show all parts of me, the guy that listens to everything from Miles Davis to Fall Out Boy. I want something that represents me. But I haven’t been able to put it in one album.

At this point in your career, why sign with a major label?
The only reason I went to Warner Bros. is because everybody talks bad about the record industry. I don’t believe in being an armchair MC, always complaining about why you’re not selling or why things aren’t working. I took a pay cut to go to a major because my goal is to show people they have the chance to get on the radio. I want to be in a position to compete and really see why certain things don’t get on the radio. I’m gonna have some of the same producers everybody [else] has. By doing that, I won’t be able to complain. If I don’t get on the radio, it will be strictly because I’m not wanted there. A lot of rappers are quick to blame the industry when things don’t work. 9th gets mad at me all the time because I tell him we didn’t have a hit record. So instead of complaining, I went to where they make hits.

Little Brother was the cusp of stardom when they signed with Atlantic in 2004. Obviously it didn’t work out. What will make your situation with a major different?
My situation is different because Little Brother was a newer group, compared to my career. I’ve been recording since I was 14 and selling [albums] since I was 17. I’ve handled my own business for years. Plus, I don’t have to sign with a major for the money. I know I’m taking a pay-cut, but financially, I’m fine. I’m making a sacrifice to try and spread a message of peace. Especially with everything that happened at Virginia Tech. Life is bigger than money.

Do you have a lot of expectations now?
I don’t have large overhead or expectations. If I don’t do well, Warner Bros. can drop me and I wouldn’t care. I’m doing me regardless and I’ve done well just by doing that. I got to Warner Bros. and all they told me was, “Here is your budget, do what you do.” I don’t have an A&R in the studio pressuring me.

Is there anything you stand to lose by going to a major?
Pissing off my loyal fans from the past 10 years who think I might change. This is a dangerous move for me. This ain’t easy. I never got in this to be famous. I just make music and work hard. I’m the first to be at the venue and that last to leave. But every fan knows I’m cool. I drive a Nissan Murano and read comic books.

Who have you reached out to for this album?
I’ve [reached out] to Snoop Dogg, Gym Class Heroes, Kid Rock, Buckwild, Showbiz, Rick Rock, Droop-E and Mistah F.A.B. I want to work with people who can [help] me make the most cohesive album possible. I just want to work with whoever wants to work with me. This jump to Warner Bros. is helping with that. I got another album with 9th [Wonder] sitting, but we can only use those songs for our project.

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/cleanguns2 RJB is Zilla Rocca

    MURS RULES THE WORLD!

  • 21stCenturyKid

    Very nice, this album will be clusterfuck. I look forward to the album with 9th again, though.

  • Holla

    Murs is dope, glad he signed with a major. they are gonna drop his ass like little brother though lol

  • bbe4eva

    im very interested 2 see how this works out. good luck,i wish him tha best,imma buy it either way

  • Tha Ace

    i’ve been bumpin murs for a while. glad to see that he’s gettin some recognition finally

  • thoreauly77

    kid rock? what the FUCK murs?

  • smog

    yeah fur real fuck rid rock, murs is tight though, excellent live, almost as good as common

  • thecollinb

    he needs to leave the collabs alone and just rock by himself cause the nigga gots skills for days. it’s funny cause he knows if he doesnt do well he still hasnt lost anything. i fucks with him regardless cause he can spit and has great concepts so i’m buying.
    and it’s about time someone other than the dude from Panic at the Disco pointed out that all rappers do is talk about themselves

  • Faggot ASs Rock Bands

    Why do a lot of rappers listen to shitty rock. Murs says he listens to Fallout Boy. WTF? That is the gayest teenie bopper fag music possible. Jay-Z did a song with Coldplay. Never once heard a rapper mention Sucidal Tendencies or Misfits, Because of that comment i might never buy another Murs album and may throw the one i have out the fucking window. Word.

  • eauhellzgnaw

    MURS is dope. I hope he blows up, but I doubt he will: he’s too literate.

    And messing with like Kid Rock is bad news for fans of quality music.

  • http://www.myspace.com/beefin504 beef

    damn i hope murs and little brother come out soon this will be a classic hip hop year

  • http://www.seanruiz.com sean ruiz

    This is exciting

  • vincent

    He had some dodgy rhymes about em being white at a time i think (i don’t like em but you have to respect his skills), beside that murs is all great. Smart, fun and deep. can’t wait.

    rock on..

  • BIG HATE

    I knew it wouldent be long before we would here murs over neptunes beats. His next single is with guess who?????? justin timberlake!!!!!! nahhh im kidding but seriously dont fuck up murs. I would really hate to see u go pop, cause you one of the reasons im still listening to Hip Hop. But best of luck to you. Def gonna cup that murs for pres. if its bangin and still on some real shit. one.

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  • http://www.myspace.com/yeahobi Anthony Obi

    My favorite rapper. Great to see him getting some shine!

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  • ILL $TATE $UN

    YO MURS! THE 9TH WONDER JOINTS MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN HIT RECORDS, BUT THEY WERE DAMN SURE HIP HOP CLASSICS! H-U-S-T-L-E, HUSTLA,NEVA FIND A DIME THAT AINT MINE MOTHAFUCKA!!!!! MURS 4 PREZ!

  • http://myspace.com/parlousmusic Parlous

    Ive been listening to Murs for Years, and allways looked forward to his new cuts and never once was I let down. I belive that a major label will expose the world to what me and other Heads have known for a quick minute. Murs Rules the world and he does it maintaining his OWN persona and his OWN mental state. He WAS the hardest working man in the underground…now the world has a chance to see him grind in the big leagues.

    Blessings

    Parlous

    (Honolulu Hi.)

  • PaidDuesBaltimoreJuly27(PT)

    Murs has been at the center of an absolutely phenomonal community of independent artists and worked his ass off for his people. Anyone who would stop listening to him because of who he signed with or mentioned in an interview, well, you obviously already have an incredibly shallow or superficial connection to your music! And the guy who says that he is going to throw the CD he already has out the window, ummm, you should probably just jump.

  • Freddy(Vega$)

    MURS is your Rappers Favorite Rapper!! my favorite rapper for the past 5 years has been this nigga!!

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  • mike100

    Fuck Murs….. I think he made a bad move moving to a major label…. He definitely pissed off this loyal fan….. I think his album will flop, and I probably won’t ever buy another one of his albums.