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[courtesy] Murs Interview
Author: Adam Bernard

Artists like to claim they've seen and done it all. It lends them an air of worldliness. For many of the them, however, most of what they've seen and done doesn't go much further than the end of their respective block. Then you have Murs. Murs doesn't claim to have seen and done it all, but with the way he keeps expanding his resume it would be hard to argue against him if he did. From Def Jux, to Warner Brothers, to now working with Dame Dash, yes THAT Dame Dash, Murs' continuing travels in hip-hop are unique and far reaching. Right now Murs is far reaching in another way - he's currently on a 50 city tour, which started in late September. RapReviews caught up with Murs right as the tour was getting into full swing and found out more about it, as well as the affect being in his 30s, and getting married, has had on him, and why he says working with Dame Dash is a lot like working with El-P. He also told us who he's been picking up in his fantasy football league.

Adam Bernard: You were on Warner Brothers for one album (Murs for President). Why wasn't that that perfect marriage for you?

Murs: There was a big regime change at Warner Brothers. The regime that brought me in was on its way out and the new regime weren't Murs fans, I can say that.

AB: Was it just a cold shoulder type of deal?

M: I asked to leave. There were promises that weren't being met, and then I found out when I asked that the promises weren't being met because there was a change coming. After I left the president was fired and everyone that he brought in was fired, or laid off, or however you say it.

AB: Other than that whole incident of experiencing a regime change while you were on the label, what were some of the biggest changes you encountered going from Def Jux to Warner Brothers, and were there any that you really liked?

M: I liked the opportunity to work with more people. Contrary to what indie artists believe, there are a lot of people who love music that work at these labels that are just amazing and wonderful people. To see them work, and see some of their ideas work, was awesome.

AB: You've done quite a few collaborative projects since then. Your next one is Love & Rockets, Volume 1: The Transformation, with Ski Beatz. That's a mouthful of a title, by the way.

M: You can just say Love & Rockets.

AB: Wasn't that a pop group in the 80s, or early 90s?

M: Yes, I believe it was.

AB: What kind of transformation is this for you? Is it a musical transformation, a personal one, or both?

M: Both. I got married a year and a half ago. (I had) haircuts, label changes, lots of life coaching, things of that nature. I've been traveling my whole life, but traveling with my wife has opened up my eyes, and I'm doing a lot more charity work and volunteer work.

AB: We're both in our 30s. Is there something about your 30s that turns a corner?

M: I don't know. I think there should be. I think there should be growth at least every decade. There should be growth every day, but definitely you start thinking about later on in life and what's important to you and what you want. If your goal is to pop bottles the rest of your life then that's great. If your goal is to have children and get a job then that's great. My goal is to continue my art and make as much money with it as possible so I can continue to help as many people as possible and adopt eight more kids if I can, volunteer, and give money to the right people and help other people make their dreams come true.

AB: You say you want to adopt eight more kids. How many kids have you adopted?

M: My wife and I are in the process of adopting two or three right now. We adopted a puppy. We started that this weekend.

AB: You spoke about the puppy on Twitter. How'd you end up landing the puppy?

M: I've been wanting a dog for the longest. My wife, she's the one who's really got me into volunteering and adoption so we had to adopt. We're not gonna adopt children and buy a puppy. I'm going to go on the road and she wants a companion, someone to hang out with. It's her first pet ever.

AB: That's dope. I hear in addition to working with adoption agencies you're also now working with Dame Dash.

M: Yeah, that's a blessing.

AB: How'd that come to be? You don't hear a lot of people going from working with El-P to Dame Dash.

M: Yeah, it's the way my life works out. He's a pretty interesting guy. I met him through Tabi Bonney, who was working with him and said "you want to go meet Dame," and from there it all kinda happened. I walked in and I didn't see any west coast artists on their roster so I hit him up about that. He said let's put out a record. I said cool. He said can you help me with touring. I said sure. From there it all kept happening and it's still happening.

AB: Is there anything unique to his approach to your music that you didn't experience with El-P, or Warner Brothers?

M: He's definitely similar to El-P in that he lets me do what I want to do, and even more so. I think it's the freest I've been to create, except for when I put out my own stuff. It's like doing it on my own. He doesn't touch the music, he just loves it. He's a fan of music. I think he's a fan of authenticity, so as long as you're making the music you love and you're enjoying it, he enjoys it. He really is a huge fan of music and art and expression. So long as you're expressing yourself purely he's trying to help you and at most trying to focus you once it's done. He'll say "what do you want to achieve? Who do you want to reach? This is how you reach them." He doesn't tell you musically how to reach them, but marketing-wise and strategy-wise.

AB: And you have to assume the guy who's had such a huge hand in the careers of Jay-Z and Kanye West probably knows what he's doing.

M: Yeah. He may know somethin. {*laughs*}

AB: I think he got a raw deal with the whole Roc-A-Fella thing.

M: That's what everybody says. Because he's so loud and brash he doesn't get the amount of sympathy someone else would have gotten. He definitely got a raw deal and he's only guilty of being too indie. They were an indie label distributed by Def Jam and he was just too boisterous. Corporate America really fuckin dislikes that guy. A lot of the industry really dislikes him. He made a lot of enemies, but only in the name of helping his artists, only in the name of making Kanye West rich and famous, and Jay-Z rich and famous, and Beanie Sigel rich and famous, and Cam'Ron and Jim Jones rich and famous, and how he ended up being a bad guy out of all that, I don't know. None of those guys will tell you Dame Dash stole anything from them. It's not like Jerry Heller or any of those stories that you hear.

AB: It's interesting to hear you call him indie because people associate him with the creation of a sub-genre of mainstream hip-hop.

M: He made the mainstream. Jay-Z didn't sound like anyone. No one was popping champagne. Popping bottles? To his credit, as far as I know that's Dame's shit, it's not even Jay's shit. Dame was always the swag. He was the dresser, he was the flashy dude, he was the loud dude. He was the dude with two or three chains on. He was the one with the models. He was the fashion king. He was the dude yelling at Def Jam executives. He was the one with the swag.

AB: With all that in mind, how enjoyable is it to work with him?

M: I hate to use the term dream come true, because I never even dreamed (it), but he's such a giving person. I got to his Camp Blue Roc, the mansion up north, and they're like "here's the keys, we have some groceries on the way for you, here's the keys to the Jeep," and I just wake up one morning and he's like "what's up?" Everyday I can ask him anything, he'll answer anything. Every morning was three hours of me hearing stories, always learning from one of the brightest minds in the history of the music business, fuck limiting it to hip-hop, and that's an honor and an extreme pleasure. I'm always taken aback.

AB: And you have the wildest education with that, and Warner, and El-P. You've literally covered every possible base in hip-hop.

M: Yeah. Tech N9ne, his camp is phenomenal, I've learned so much from them. There's Rhymesayers. Yeah, and then being behind the scenes with my partner Guerilla Union and Chang at Rock The Bells, I've seen pretty much all sides of this industry, this machine, this organism that is hip-hop. I'm so thankful and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

AB: What that, when you make your music now you know what's gonna hit what audience, so do you ever have to pull yourself back and say wait a minute, I still have to make music for me, or are you always making music for you with the back-knowledge that "I'm making this for me AND it's gonna hit X, Y and Z?"

M: I'm always making it for me. I think my true fans know me and I'm not doing anything unless I want to do it. I try not to do it for the fans. Sometimes I do do things. We did more 9th Wonder records because the fans wanted me to, but also because I wanted to. If I didn't want to I wouldn't do it. But I never try to do things that I think people who don't already like me will like. I don't do things thinking "this is what the radio's gonna like, let me do this." Even with Murs For President, I worked with because I grew up freestyling with him in basements and community centers throughout Los Angeles when we were 15, 16 years old. We'd wanted to work together since we were teenagers. It wasn't to get a radio hit, or anything like that, it was just that's what I wanted to do.

AB: The next thing you want to do is hit the road. Tell me about this Hip-Hop and Love tour.

M: It started September 27th and I think it's 50 cities. It's just been phenomenal. I've never been with a label where I've said we're gonna do everything, like it'll be cool if we do a commercial for every city, and there's so much bureaucracy and red tape and the due process, checks and balances...

AB: I think you've used every word for bullshit other than bullshit.

M: {*laughs*} But I've seen those checks and balances and that bullshit not in place with Def Jux and it will bleed your label dry if you don't have them. There's a balance, so I don't want to say bullshit, but it is a lot of bullshit. With Dame it's just the right amount of bullshit, or structure. To an artistic mind most of the time any structure is bullshit, but the fact that Dame is artistic with his business, he is an artist, but with his business, it makes it easy. I said let's do a commercial for every city, and it got done. Let's print out posters, and even though the promoters aren't asking for them, let's send the promoters at least 20 posters each. Anything I ask we can do. Whatever you think you can do to succeed, let's succeed together. That's amazing to me.

AB: Finally, speaking of success, I've been reading your Twitter feed and you seem to be a fairly big fantasy football addict. How successful have you been this season? Who are you crushing and who's crushing you?

M: I beat Lyric, who's a hip-hop online video model actress, week one. I lost to Kno of Cunninlyguists week two because Dez Bryant was out, Braylon Edwards went out, and Eddie Royal went out, and I know those aren't top tier receives, but they're all my receivers and we're in a 20 person league so after the first round of the draft anyone of quality was gone. I got Ray Rice and Dez Bryant, those were my first two rounds. I picked up Roy Helu, we'll see what happens. I picked up Jeremy Shockey. I couldn't believe he was still available cuz Cam Newton says he has to throw the ball short sometimes and that means throw to the tight end. If you have Steve Smith you're gonna try to go deep, but I think Jeremy Shockey is gonna pay off more than Todd Heap from the Arizona Cardinals was doing from me.

Check out Murs on the web at and follow Adam on Twitter @AdamsWorldBlog.

Originally posted: October 11th, 2011

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