What's good Murs?
It's been a rough, rough, rough, rough day. I'm working on this Hip Hop festival right now and everything just went in the ****ter. I just lost tens of thousands of dollars before I woke up over something that's not even my fault. I've been in the office all day working with Guerilla Union just trying to recover. We got kicked out of our venue because some punk-rocker nazi mother****ers had a riot and now they won't let us have our show.
What's going to happen next?
We're going to move it to the Shrine. We had to pay more money for this venue and it's a different sound set-up. We had been planning and promoting for one venue and now we have four days to do everything we just did in the past two months. I also have the album, a video-magazine I'm putting together, and I'm booking my own tours. I might have to cancel my national tour. It's been a crazy, crazy day.
Are you happy with how "Murray's Revenge" came out?
Not really. Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, no. The label didn't fight as hard as I thought they should have over some sample clearances. This is my first time really going through that. One song didn't make it on the album because they said it was an interpolation of PM Dawn's "Love and Appreciate." It was 9th singing the whole thing and it was 9th's first time ever being recorded.
9th was singing?
Yeah, because Phonte was out of town. I was happy he was on the album because he's not on anyone's album. I didn't think it was a big deal. It was a fight over a note. They said that was an interpolation. I told my label it wasn't a sample and I don't think they believed me. I told them they couldn't copyright a note. I wanted to fight them and win but the label didn't want to fight. It's PM Dawn! What funnier headline is that over a song about being in love? It's great press. To me, they're trying to ruin my record and ruin my life.
There's also a manufacturing error because my manager ****ed up, so the last song gets cut off in mid-sentence. A lot of bad things keep happening and I don't know why. Other than that, the album is great. I didn't have fun making it, but I thought it was a solid album.
Was there anything that went wrong during the recording process?
I never enjoy recording with 9th. Every time I leave North Carolina, I hate his guts. We fight like brothers. Outside of the studio, it's all good. I know his family really well, but when we're in the studio, we don't get along at all.
It's just a fight. He thinks things should be done one way. Let's get this out of the way from the jump: I am one of the first guys to go to North Carolina to record with 9th. Now a lot of rappers go there just to record, but I don't go in there to do just that. I let him pick the beat and I let him produce. I listen to what he says. I let him give me the beats. He knows my voice and he knows what I'm about. He's a musician and I'm a lyricist. I am not a musician. I need a canvas and you can tell me what color you want me to paint or you can just give me a beat. I trust my instincts. When you're choosing a producer, you're not choosing them so you can pick their beats, but you're choosing them because you believe in their work whole-heartedly. We fight, but at the end of the day, he has final say. I'm trying to make him see my point, but if he doesn't, that's his call, because at the end of the day he's the producer.
What do you guys fight about?
He doesn't let me do back-ups because he thinks my voice is strong enough on my own. He doesn't let me do a lot of takes. A lot of takes from "3:16" are one-take. I don't drink or smoke or go out much, so I would be in the hotel in North Carolina just writing for eight hours. When he drops me off at the hotel, I'll write more. Then I'll show him what I have, and he'll say, "No. I want you to do this about girls." I wanted to write "Love and Appreciate" about my mom, and he said that a verse I had written about girls to a different beat had to go over that beat with a new verse about girls. He also won't let me do my verses over. If I stutter or didn't get a whole word out or ran my words together, he'll say he doesn't care and won't let me fill it in. He'll say, "No, we're going to leave it blank." "We're just going to have a blank space?" "Yeah." "That's not hot." That doesn't sound good. The thing about being a rapper is that you can get too wordy for your own good. 9th goes off of feeling. A lot of the **** on my album doesn't match up. I stutter a lot of words but it's the feeling of me saying it for the first time that he liked.
Does that make you want to go back and do another album?
When I leave, hell no! The last thing I want to do is see his ass again. He won't do the next one, but he'll probably do the one after that. As long as we're making good music together, then I'm going to listen to what he has to say. I did the same thing with "Felt." Slug and Ant told me what to do. I like to be the instrument in somebody's orchestra. That's how you get better. You have to be humble and not try to teach everyone all the time. At least I know I'm going to learn something when I leave.
Do you ever worry about your lyrics going over people's heads?
All the time. But then I'll meet a kid, I think it was at a Deftones show, and he said, "When you said this, this, and this, that was really dope." I make a lot of Deftones references but a lot of kids don't listen to them. I didn't know anybody ever got that. Sometimes I'll be at the comic store and someone will tell me something. There are always lines when people come up to me and let me know that they got something. I'll be in Chicago and then I'll understand what Common said about something. Then you're like, "Ahhhh!" That's dope to me, and I tried to put stuff like that in my music. I still don't understand everything De La Soul said. I don't think I make it as complex as De La, but I'm somewhere in the middle. It's like food. You don't want to eat the same thing everyday. If you can discover a new taste, that's great.
Where do you get your inspiration for all your songs about girls?
From real life and my friends. I guess that's one of the benefits to having this crazy life. I get to meet all types of girls and my friends get to meet all types of girls. I was friendly with a lot of girls in high school but I didn't get laid until after high school. I was always the friend. I got adopted by a lot of the older girls. All those years of torture and blue-balls paid off, I guess, because I think I have a good understanding of the female psyche. I can write songs about females that aren't usually too offensive. The girls usually like the extremely vulgar ones, but they're not sexist or demeaning. It's just funny because it's true.
You have a lot of fresh takes on race. How important is it to talk about race in music?
Oh man! I think it's really, really, really important as long as it's not about hate and separation. I think it's important because it's something that people don't say enough. I'm an American, period. I'm black, blah, blah, blah. I've had the benefit of interacting with so many different people and different races. There's no way for me to not put it in my music. I don't think that more people should talk about race. I think more people should do it right.
In your opinion, who's doing it wrong?
A lot of them. I don't want to name names because I don't want it to seem like I'm dissing anybody. All of the pro-black rappers are doing it wrong. If you're dissing white people and 80% of the crowd is white, then you probably shouldn't do it because it's just disrespectful and you're making money off of shock value. It's not being productive. It sounds like you think you're better than them but it just produces a message that's counter-productive and negative.
What was your inspiration for "Dark-Skinned White Girls"?
It was a joke. I wanted to put it on the "Felt" album. Slug definitely inspired me to write more girl songs. People don't know that Slug is a quarter-black, a quarter-Native American, and half-white. I wanted to do it but he didn't think it would be right for him to say that. I told him it was ok because he was with me. He could talk about a white girl and I could talk about a black girl. He told me it was a "Murs song."
Of course I had a different beat to it for 9th. He gave me a serious beat for it, and I told him it was a joke song. He told me he felt it over that beat, so I just did it. That makes me a better rapper because I can say it like I didn't hate saying it, but I was stabbing myself in the heart with every word I said because it sounded so stupid. Most songs took fifteen minutes, and some only took three minutes. Now I love the way the song sounds. I kind of had to rewrite it. I only had the last verse at first. Once I heard the beat, I decided to do something more serious for it.
How would you describe your evolution as an MC over the past few years?
I went from freestyling to not being able to count bars to not really being able to write hooks. I can break down every album scientifically. Each album sounds like I mastered it. That's why I called "The End of the Beginning" that name, because I felt like I couldn't push myself any further. Then it changed when I started working with 9th. I've always been all over the place with producers and where they're from. Since people liked the first album with 9th so much, I figured I would do it again. I'm still developing.
Are you working on a new Living Legends album?
I don't know. I don't really work that much with Living Legends anymore.
Did anything happen?
No. We've been together for ten years and everybody is creating their own thing. Mainly I don't tour with them anymore. When "Classic" came out, I told them I wasn't going to tour with them, but they wanted me on the album. Then it got awkward performing because people can't hear the full songs because I'm not on the stage with them. It's a matter of logistics.
Are there any feelings of jealousy in the group over your solo success?
I don't think so. I don't know. I would say no. I don't think I've surpassed the crew. That's one thing I always said to them: "Nobody's ever above the crew." My solo work Soundscans what the Living Legends album did, so I don't really feel like I have exploded beyond the crew yet. If I do explode beyond the crew, I would hope that there would be no feelings of jealousy.
You had a lot of dope producers on "The End of the Beginning." What producers are you going to work with on the next album?
This next album, I'm going to make an album that I would actually listen to. I'm more of a West Coast-kind of guy. My favorite rappers are not in the underground scene. I'm going to work with who I want to. Me and El-P wanted to do something together. I might do a whole album with Aesop Rock. He's real dope. Me and Ant might do an album. I want to **** with Dangermouse. I did some stuff for Mr. Dibbs' album. Me and Shock are definitely going to do something one day when we get our **** together.
In our last interview, you talked about trying to break even with "Walk Like a Man." How did you do?
I got robbed. I couldn't afford pressing it up myself, so I signed it over to some people. They were supposed to make sure I got my money back first. The checks came in their name and they decided to take all of the money. It's ****ed up. They're still paying me back. I have half of the money I put into "Walk Like a Man" eighteen months later.
I'm blessed to not need it to live or eat and they're blessed enough that I don't need the money because I'd probably be in jail. Probably not. I'm too smart for that. They probably wouldn't be living, or at least living healthy lives. They needed the money more than me and they felt the need to take from me and breach contract. I might sue them for fun later on. A lot of bad things happen to me and I don't need bad things to happen to other people. I know what that feels like.
Does that make you more wary with whom you work with in the future?
Nah, man. I do what I do and I'll let God fight the devil. I'll use my common sense and if I'm in a situation that I can't handle, then I'll deal with it. I'm doing all right. I'm not starving. I'm a little angry and over-stressed. Hopefully it will get better.
Do you have plans for more DVD's in the future?
Oh hell yeah! I'm trying to start a new genre with that. I want to do soundtracks and DVD in one package. My video-magazine "MC TV" will be out too featuring Little Brother, Mr. Dibbs, Atmosphere, 3MG, and these kids I just signed…there's a lot of behind-the-scenes footage on that. It's a quarterly magazine. The first issue will be out at the Paying Dues Festival.
Are you going to start developing talent?
I always wanted to be an A&R more than a rapper.
Is there any chance of a new 3MG album?
Probably not. Except for Slug, I don't see myself working with anybody in the near-future. I want to be in control. I want to do what I want to do. Every project I've been a part of, I feel like I was never been able to do what I wanted to do. I want 150 % creative control, even though I know that's not a real percentage, but I have to get this out of my system. Then we can talk about a new 3MG album.
Do you have any plans to re-release your albums like "Good Music" or "F'real"?
You can still find "F'real" on CD. I repressed a lot recently, but I think I'm going to phase them out over the next couple of years.
Do you enjoy listening to your older material?
Once every five years I can do it just because it lets me know how far I've come. I feel like it's so bad. Some people say it's my best album, and I can't believe it because I've learned so much. I'm kind of embarrassed that that material is still out there, but the people want it. Being an MC is sort of like being a public servant in that sense.
How much do you listen to what your fans want?
I never do what I want. I say what I want, and that's as close as I get. I don't really pick my beats. I'll pick the producer because I like their vibe and energy. If the fans think I should work with somebody, I'll try it, but I'm always going to speak my mind and say what I want. I can make a whole song about something and hold your attention. If the fans want me to go on tour, then that's what I have to do. If they want another "Walk Like a Man," then that's what I'll do. As long as they don't try to censor what I say, then I'm happy.
What's your main focus on a daily basis right now?
Not shooting myself in the face, honest to God. A lot of rappers are driven by finances. Some people get up and try to buy more jewelry and get more hoes. I don't drink and I don't smoke, and I don't really have the need to have a million girls. I have no idea what's driving me or what I'm doing this for. I couldn't care less to anything that could happen in my career. There isn't anything that can happen today that can amaze me or truly disappoint me. There are things that can happen that irritate the **** out of me. I don't give a ****. I did a song with E-40 and Shock G. I've been all around the world. I don't want a million dollars, but I'll take it. My focus is really on me not quitting and going into a hole and never coming out. I need to be on my medication quite honestly, but I'm not because I refuse to take drugs. Every day, my focus is on getting out of bed and answering my phone because everyone that calls me has a problem. I'm trying to not drive away, buy a house, and become a monk.
What do you want to say to your fans?
I love you guys. Thank you. Don't feel bad if you downloaded the album. I really don't give a ****. Hopefully you can take something away from what I said and find something to laugh about. That'd be great.