Murphy Lee
No Holding Back

murphy-lee.jpgHumility is a characteristic rarely possessed by hip-hop artists, but for Murphy Lee it’s an inherent trait. Despite his collection of gold and platinum plaques, the calm and measured member of the St. Lunatics is noticeably devoid of arrogance. Yet Murphy has always made his presence felt since making his debut on Nelly’s eight million seller, Country Grammar (2000). On tracks such as “Steal the Show” and “Batter Up,” the charismatic MC’s fun and playful rhymes made him a superstar in the making. On the heels of Nelly’s solo success, the St. Lunatics—Nelly, Murphy Lee, Ali, Kyjuan, Slo’Down and City Spud, who was incarcerated at the time—followed up a year later with their own platinum disc, Free City. Again Murphy made standout appearances and set the stage for his first solo offering, 2003’s Murphy’s Law. The album went gold thanks to the smash single “Shake Your Tailfeather,” which originally appeared a few months earlier on the Bad Boys II soundtrack. Featuring Nelly and Diddy, the song went on to win a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 2004. Since then, Da Skool Boy has been relatively quiet on the music front, opening up a vegetarian-friendly restaurant in his hometown of St. Louis and taking classes at Southeast Missouri University. Now, Murphy is ready to return to rap with his sophomore album, U C Me. Set for release this fall, the LP features production from Jazze Pha, Jermaine Dupri and Mannie Fresh, who produced the first single “Hatin’,” featuring Young Dro. XXLMag.com caught up with Murphy Lee to discuss his new project and how he plans to revive the St. Lunatics legacy.

Looking back, how do you feel about your debut album, Murphy’s Law?
I think the last album was rushed. “Shake Your Tailfeather” blew up kinda fast, so I had to hurry up and put something out. This time I had a lot of time to make [my album] perfect.

Murphy’s Law still went gold, though.
It did great, [but] we did it in a month. I didn’t have any songs prepped before we went in or nothin’ like that. I just went in and created Murphy’s Law. This time I had a chance to see music go in and out [and] see who flopped on their second album. I saw a lot of things so I was able to [make] mine be right.

Originally your new album was supposed to be called The Package. Why’d you change the name?
It’s called U C Me, which is also the name of my label. It’s an independent label [that] takes artists from St. Louis who may not be able to sell a certain amount of records. I wanna make sure they get exposure [and] be a part of the St. Louis movement.

People still associate you and the rest of the St. Lunatics with Nelly. Do you feel you have to really establish yourself as a solo artist with this album?
It’s kinda hard to come out of something so big. It’s not easy being in the shadows but we make it work. I did good on my first album. I came out with the big dawgs and everything—OutKast, R. Kelly and four or five other rappers that dropped the same time. My album did well in that mix. Anything I touch is good. I think the future for Murphy Lee is gon’ be crazy.

Hip-hop sales across the board are at an all time low. Do you have to lower your expectations for U C Me?
People are buying people; they’re not buying songs. There’s a lot of hits out there [but] your album is garbage. It needs more. When it comes down to it, they’re gonna separate the single makers and the actual artists. Fans let it be known that Tuesday. Personally, I got a classic album—front to back. The last album people were telling me, “Man, you gonna sell three, four million.” [But] I’m like, “Come on, man, you gotta know where it’s at.” I just wanna grow from here. I wanna keep climbing. I don’t wanna just go boom and then [it] ain’t nothing but downhill.

Some critics feel Nelly and the St. Lunatics’ popularity and momentum has slowed down over the years. How do you responds to that?
That’s false. When it’s album time, you gon’ hear about it. It’s quiet now, but when it’s time, it’s time. When the momentum comes, you damn sure gon’ know. We work everyday, all day. Don’t nothin’ stop. We businessmen first—we done opened restaurants [and] companies. You just gotta watch yourself and make sure you jump in. Don’t jump when that wave is going the wrong way—you done went against the wave. You gotta watch it. It’s like surfing and I got a cold surfboard.

What about those that say St. Louis hip-hop is too pop influenced?
I don’t know. [Nelly’s] Country Grammar was one of the most gangsta albums I ever heard in my life. So I don’t see how people say that. It’s weird that when everybody buys your music you’re considered something. That’s sad. [Laughs] We can’t help that we sell to more people. People like what we like. You can’t help that. But once it gets bigger and you’re in the limelight more, people are gonna say things. That’s fine. The point of being in this business is to sell records. All that other stuff can be on. We can box in the street. I’ll holla at you—whatever. [But] these people feel like they gotta be [gangsta] when you don’t. You rich now, so don’t make these people feel like that. It ain’t about making happy or jolly songs. I make music. I got all subjects. We can go gangsta, hood, whatever. Make music. Make songs—real talk.

How do you feel about the new artists coming out of St. Louis? Some people feel they are trying to duplicate the St. Lunatics’ sound.
They doing their own thing. It’s a big movement coming out of St. Louis. It’s great to see everybody doing their thing. I just wanna remain humble. Just because you on 106 & Park don’t mean it’s all good. Just remain humble [and] keep yourself St. Louis like you do. The light be shining crazy on St. Louis. We lovin’ it, man. Shout out to everybody who dropped [an album from St. Louis]. I bought everybody’s album for the whole fam.

Did you hear Huey’s diss to Nelly, “Down, Down Baby?”
Yeah, I heard [it]. That’s fine. He’s funny.

Any response?
Nah, let him have all that. If he feels good [by] doing that, then that’s cool.

When’s the next St. Lunatics album coming out?
We’re here recording right now. We lookin’ at the beginning of 2008. It’s gon’ be crazy, though. We got a lot going on. We just waited so we can drop it and make it a movement not just a moment.

  • Holla

    Nelly and Murphy don’t want it with Huey..Noooooooooo! LOL

  • brebre

    PROP TO XXL – GREAT QUESTIONS ASKED STRAIGHT FORWARD. NO SUGAR COATING. BUT HIS ANSWERS ARE WHACK. SERIOUSLY, “COUNTRY GRAMMAR” IS REALLY ONE OF THE MOST GANGSTA ALBUMS U EVER HEARD IN YOUR LIFE? NIGGA, PLEASE.

  • http://www.myspace.com/fucklarrybrite Larry Brite

    I really do like how Murphy comes off with his raps but, Country Grammer : The Most Gangster Album . . . . . . UM . . . . – W.T.F?

  • IT IS I

    LOL @ country grammer being gangsta – WTF??????????

  • ne nigga

    country gramma was not gangsta it was a dam gud album tho. i dnt think nelly can top it tho. and nelly is about 2 steps from falling off so murph betta cum hard(wich i doubt) kuz if this effort is wack(wich it will be) he mite as well work @ walmart wit coolio

  • ur-highness

    ok ok ok now i will be a fool reading this and not responding to what murphy lee just stated about nelly’s country grammer album being one of the most gangsta albums he’s ever heard in his life!!! what does he classify as gangsta?? cuz country grammer was down right dumb…i mean he sold 8 mill but still he aint get a dime from me and…country grammer gangsta?? you all tell me

  • suckaniggadickmakeaniggarich

    country grammer was an excellent album in its time and in its own respect…but it was about as gangsta as a box of kittens eating fruit loops….fo real!!!!

  • fireforreal

    Why even mention Huey ? that guy is on a whole new level of an artist that sucks.Don’t do him any favors he just wants attention because his career will be over by december/january.

  • SAN FER

    hahahahaha…@….nellys country grammar is most gangsta album hes ever heard…hahahaha nellys is gay..dont compare to tupac he aint gangsta

  • FoTrey

    Murphy Lee knows how to answer questions…he answered the question so that the media cant take what he said and turn it around… As for the Country Grammar Cd…tha cd was good…it had some gangsta shit in it…Street Sweepa baby cocked ready to let it go… its just done it a commedy way…the album was hot…
    Fo2da
    holla

  • Freddy(Vega$)

    Big ups how he dont have to hate on other rappers from his city, shows alot of class and thats why they Run there City!! Make that money nigga….

  • Special One

    country grammar a gangsta album?? that comment has to go in the nergo please column in the next issue

  • http://myspace.com/marko4aoc Marko-V

    I’m from the Lou. Born and raised. And I find it hard to see any light being shed on our city. If you don’t sound pop then no label wants to deal with you. You shoulda asked why no one from the industry really has him or his camp on any collabos. Nelly sells 8 mill. right there wit the Ems, Jays, Fif, and he’s not respected enough to be mentioned. Country Grammar was a breakthrough album but it hurt the rest of the city. I think somebody will have to get shot in order for things to turn around becuz nobody’s eatin out here.

  • derfla the hus’la

    dude is still alive? country drama gangsta?

  • http://www.xxlmag.com ST. LOUIS SUCKS

    another trash from st.louis

  • PATTO

    isn’t this the nigga who shit his pants?

  • negro please

    NEGRO PLEASE DONT EVER SAY THAT SHIT AGAIN. hope the album does well thou

  • Domanic

    Man nelly sweet az fuk fuk huey and pop lock and drop it. U know damn well nelly will come back even harder on that bitch ass.

  • Knowledge Speaks

    LMAO! Country Gramma the most gangsta album?? Shit I wonder what NWA is to this nigga.

  • http://xxlmag.com doctor69

    PATTO Says:

    July 23rd, 2007 at 6:06 pm
    isn’t this the nigga who shit his pants?
    ^^^^
    no I’m that nigga who shit his pants when cam’ron beat me up.

  • Young Jopey

    St. Louis=POP the most gangster Album I’ve heard???? hilarious nelly is cool but gangster he’s not …..who the hell is huey????

  • facescar

    I’m feelin this dude, I’ll check his album out..

  • Dubb Montana

    He said Country Grammer was the most Gangsta Album he ever heard. I guess he never heard of Ice T, N.W.A., Ice Cube etc.

  • Deuces

    Huey is trash nelly aint all that but he better than huey and murphy lee’s last run was in 2004 so i cant wait to see what he got

  • D@t Ni&&A

    country grammer was a classic, but NOT gangsta at all.

  • slabhouseceo

    good look not saying shit bout who he? i mean huey… he gotta sell then talk shit. what up wit nelly anyway?

  • BIZZLE

    THANKS ALOT ST LOUIS FOR BRINGING US THIS PIECE OF GARBAGE…THIS GUY IS NELLY’S BUTT BOY…ST. LOUIS HAS PUT OUT NOTHING BUT WACK RAPPERS…FROM NELLY TO CHINGY TO HUEY I CAN GO ON AND ON…

  • BIZZLE

    THANKS ALOT ST LOUIS FOR BRINGING US THIS PIECE OF GARBAGE…THIS GUY IS NELLY’S BUTT BOY…ST. LOUIS HAS PUT OUT NOTHING BUT WACK RAPPERS…FROM NELLY TO CHINGY TO HUEY I CAN GO ON AND ON…

  • BIZZLE

    THANKS ALOT ST LOUIS FOR BRINGING US THIS PIECE OF GARBAGE…THIS GUY IS NELLY’S BUTT BOY…ST. LOUIS HAS PUT OUT NOTHING BUT WACK RAPPERS…FROM NELLY TO CHINGY TO HUEY I CAN GO ON AND ON…

  • BIZZLE

    “COUNTRY GRAMMAR IS ONE OF THE MOST GANGSTA ALBUMS I EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE” NEGRO PLLLLLEEEAASE!

  • www.myspace.com/djlionrock1

    st.lou rappers are all doodoo .they make luv to their sheep.nelly is a fag fuk st lou and all the shit rappers

  • Trev-O-Negative

    Da hardest nigga in st.louis iz Tech n9ne,and he don’t even claim 2 b gangsta,but i bet u won’t c him on a st.lunaticz album.I remember when tech try’d 2 get @ nelly and i don’t feel like they ever resolved dat issue,but i would love 2 c tech bring sum credability back 2 st.louis.However i am glad 2 hear from murh and i will cop da album,cuz i know it’z gonna b betta than everthing else comin’ outta st.louis(except 4 TECH N9NE!!!).

    • bambam13

      Tech n9ne is from Kansas City not St. Louis

  • http://space_boy073yahoo.com black memphis

    you guys can’t think of any one better to interview. murph,brother,listen man…. you made your little money,you proved u ain’t about shit (on the mic that is). you right though, we will let you know on tuesday if anyone out here wants to hear your bullshit. i never cared for nelly, and if it wasn’t for white folks yall would not have sold shit because nobody i know bump yall here except for a few ladies and old old ass folks that don’t care for rap.i wish you washed up ass folks would just go away.country grammer makes me want to throw up fruit punch. i should sue you wack muthafuckas

  • http://www.facebook.com Wolf

    I don’t know about All Time but “Country Grammar” is a Lot more Gangsta than y’all giving it Credit. The First Single was “Street Sweeper Cocked Ready to Let it Go”. If you Actually listened to what he was saying in half the songs instead of the catchy choruses and beats you would hear it.

  • YyyIt’sAC

    suckaniggadickmakeaniggarich Says:

    July 23rd, 2007 at 1:50 pm
    country grammer was an excellent album in its time and in its own respect…but it was about as gangsta as a box of kittens eating fruit loops….fo real!!!!

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    This shit comedy but I couldn’t agree more

  • 22

    OK, then.. Murph.. I can’t bite my tongue on it.. Man, first of all.. Nothing Nelly puts out is gangsta.. He sell to white so he don’t have to be. I understand that you are being humble. At the same time we all here in the Lou know that you are better than him.. You know it.. He ain’t putting the money and push behind yall like he’s supposed to.. Yall supposed to be his boys. If he knows that he can corner the market by keeping at a distance, then that’s what he will continue to do.

  • http://hey bria

    that’s a my man. hey nigga are u get money.

  • http://hueymusic.com misz new stl

    man fucc dat nigga nelly and derrty ent. man kinloch all day 5700 meet me in da streetzZZZZZZZZ