Murs, Make It Work For Ya [Indie Kings]

Images by Chris Shonting

It’s a long way from Mid-City, L.A., to Manhattan, which is where Cali rhyme representer Murs is shopping for comics on an overcast May afternoon. He’s in town for a stop on his Fornever and a Day tour and is taking a break in his busy schedule for a few hours.

After 17 years in the game, Murs has carved a comfortable spot for himself in the independent-rap world on the basis of hard work and smart decisions. Born Nick Carter (a name he shares with one of the Backstreet Boys), Murs’s early life was in sync with his family’s tradition of earning a dollar. While other kids played with their friends on Saturday, Nick was collecting aluminum cans, helping ladies take groceries to their cars or returning carts at LAX, just to get that cash. “My family has always been entrepreneurial,” says Murs. “So from a young age, I was always taught, if you want a G.I. Joe, find out how to make $2.50. So we would go to the store, and we would push carts to women’s cars for 25 cents.”

While these experiences prepared Murs for his future business endeavors, his shifting personal life probably shaped the insightful views expressed in his music. He often refers to himself as an “at-risk youth” when speaking about his adolescence.

The young Nick Carter never really knew his real dad, who took off when he was four, but Nick did know about moving, which he, his mom and younger brother did a lot of growing up, going from Mid-City (itself a multiethnic mix of middle class meets gang activity), to the “hood hood” of Lynwood, an
It’s a long way from Mid-City, L.A., to Manhattan, which is where Cali rhyme representer Murs is shopping for comics on an overcast May afternoon. He’s in town for a stop on his Fornever and a Day tour and is taking a break in his busy schedule for a few hours.

After graduating, Murs attended Cabrillo College, in Santa Cruz, California, and continued with his dedication to rap. Soon the budding MC met Mystik Journeymen, trailblazers in the Oakland independent-rap circuit. “Mystik Journeymen had developed this underground railroad where they were able to tour Europe [on their own],” says Murs. “[Sunspot Jonz] was like, ‘If you want to rap, you should drop out of community college and come to Europe.’ And I was like, ‘Fuck it, I’m goin’.’”