It didn’t start off on the right note. Lots of left feet. There were equipment failures and a whole lot of bullshit that turned our 4 p.m. appointment into a 7:30 dinner conversation. My first attempts to talk to Murs were marred by old, unfamiliar equipment and a stubborn, selfish college radio station, which shall not be named, but linked to (you’re welcome for the hits, assholes). For a minute, I thought I’d missed out on my chance to talk with Mr. Murs 3:16. Fortunately, I didn’t miss out.
When we talked, we talked about all kinds of shit: From comic books to video games, gay rights to faux presidencies, the theatrics of battle rapping to Jacksonville’s quarterback situation. Oh, we talked about Love and Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation too. It was a dinner conversation. When I went back to transcribe the conversation, it was so. Over the recording you can hear him tapping at his dinner plate, occasionally stopping to chew. He’s talking to his new dog Rex, “No,” as he gnaws at the furniture. And, his wife even chimes in to help answer questions.
I was a guest in their home, through the phone, like some sort of twisted Soulja Boy song. After I’d excused myself from the table (we’re getting metaphoric here), I’d left realizing that Murs (a.k.a. Murancy) is as fantastic a host as he is an emcee.
Hit the skip to read the interview.
PIMB: You’ve got a 47 gig tour coming up, what’s that like?
Murs: I mean, dude, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 12 years. It’s like clockwork, but it does get [sigh] a little straining. But, I’m excited to see the fans. They’re my friends. It’s good. I feel at home at most of these cities more than I do at home. So, it’s good to be getting back out there and having something new to share with them and seeing where they’re at and what they’ve been up to.
PIMB: Oct. 11, Love and Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation drops, how is this different from any of your previous releases? And, what does ‘The Transformation’ mean?
Murs: Okay, different? Right off the top because of fucking Ski Beatz producing it. You know, right off the bat. So, that was different for me. And, then it’s not heavy. With Ski it’s a different sound even if it was sample based, but now it’s not really sample based. A lot of it is live band or synth based. That’ll give it a different feel to the whole—to my brand—to speak it in the new way. And then it’s on BluRoc which is Dame Dash’s new label, headed by him and Mckenzie Eddy. They’re just—I think I’ve finally found my fit, like, I feel like I fit at this label. I fit with these people. I love their energy. I love the way they get down. They do what they say; they say what they’re going to do. That’s always awesome in this fucking industry, you know?
PIMB: [laughs] Absolutely! What’s it like at Camp BluRoc? I saw the video, that place looks nice!
Murs: Man—it’s fuckin’— I keep telling—the view is amazing and there are fucking Warhol’s on the wall. Fuck outta here man!
PIMB: Are you serious? No fucking way.
Murs: Yeah, I was like, how can you not be inspired to not do something artistic and phenomenal? So, yeah man and we all were—and that’s what I’ve learned, a new term. I know ‘independent’ is a thing we work so hard to coin, but every great independent label, whether it be Strange Music, Rhymesayers or BluRoc is truly interdependent to me. There are so many valuable people that aren’t seen. So, there, the person who was doing the video that you guys get to see and enjoy, and engineering, webmaster, BluRoc magazine, we’re all living under the same roof. We’re eating together. We’re playing together; we’re having fun, swimming and playing badminton. It really felt like family. And, Dame is a part of it. He’s not above or beneath anyone. He grabs the guitar and is jamming out with us, and smokin’. Everybody is chill. We’re swimming, doing yoga, playing video games. It’s fun and that’s what I like to be around, but we’re still getting shit accomplished.
PIMB: What kind of video games do you play? Just curious.
Murs: I just started Gears of War at 4 a.m. this morning. I’m trying—
PIMB: The first one?
Murs: No, Gears of War 3, it just came out Tuesday. And, me and Tabi Bonney have an ongoing Madden war from last tour so I bought Madden 12.
PIMB: Do you have a team?
Murs: I’m a Jag fan. So, I try and play with the Jags.
PIMB: Okay, Quarterback issue [laughs].
Murs: Bit—little bit. Alright, let’s not talk about that. We should have taken fuckin’ Tebow if we were getting rid of Garrard. It would have been better for ticket sales. I’m not mad because it’s only going to contribute to them moving to L.A., but if they wanted to keep the team in Jacksonville, they should have taken Tebow. I mean, not for skills. I’m a Tebow fan, but I’ll argue that with anyone. He’s arguably a good fit and just as good as Blaine. And, if you don’t have any receivers—him and Maurice Jones Drew—we don’t have any receivers any-fucking-way. So, Blaine doesn’t make a difference. It would have been great for ticket sales. The Florida Gators can sell out Jacksonville’s Stadium and Jaguars put 13,000 in there every week. So it’s just, [sigh] Blaine Gabbert was not the fucking answer to anything. He’s not the answer to your offense, because they don’t have any receivers. He’s not the answer to your financial crisis. So, what the fuck were you thinking? I just don’t want them to fire Jack Del Rio, because he’s the main reason why I’m a Jaguars fan anyway.
PIMB: Really? Why?
Murs: He used to wear suits! That reminded me of Lombardi and it was just so classy to me. Then the NFL stopped him from wearing suits because of the Reebok contract. Which was bullshit. Sorry, I’m ranting, sorry—
PIMB: No, I fucking love football, man. I’m a Packers fan; things are going good for me these days.
Murs: That’s great, you guys are fucking unstoppable. Can you get Ryan Grant more carries for my Fantasy?
PIMB: Dude, I’ve got James Starks, I can’t be there for you! Sorry, man! [laughs] Let’s talk more about the album. What’s it like working with Ski Beatz?
Murs: We’re still getting to know each other. It’s like an arranged marriage. The album came out because me and Dame wanted to work together. He wanted to work with me on touring. I wanted to work with him on putting out an album. Of course, who wouldn’t? So, then from there he said, “Ski will do it.” Ski does everything that’s BluRoc. He’s done an amazing amount of work. The type of work is amazing, but the sheer volume of work is amazing on its own. Dame put us together and I was like, “I could just do a record with Ski and we can tour.” He said, “Yeah!” Ski was not there. Ski had never heard my music before, he didn’t know what a ‘Murs’ was or anything. Now, he’s doing 50-odd-something shows with me. We’ve made this music together and we’ve definitely become friends. Him becoming friends with my friends, fans—my family, or whatever you want to call them. I call them all things. From there, if we decide to do another record together it’ll probably be amazing because he’ll have a true understanding of me. I got to meet his family and hang out with his sons and be a part of his life. But, he hasn’t really had a chance—I just got married. I don’t really have a life outside my family.
PIMB: Congratulations, man. When’d it happen?
Murs: Oh, about a year and a half ago.
PIMB: Murs 3:16’s “The Pain” you say, “I’m in my mid-twenties so enough with the games / simply put I think you’re stunning….a couple dogs, couple cars….” Talks a lot about going through several relationships, looking for the one.
Murs: I was definitely looking for a wife when I met my wife. I was prepared financially and discipline wise. I wasn’t into fooling around like I was before.
PIMB: “Freak These Tales” [laughs]
Murs: Yeah, exactly. I had evolved from there. I was at a place where I felt comfortable committing, because my word to me means a lot—anyone’s word means a lot to me. So, when I gave her my word I wanted to be for real and know that I could do it. I didn’t want to get married and be like, “I love you and I’m never going to sleep with anyone else again, but I haven’t really thought about what that means on tour.” So, I thought about it. I prayed about it and there she was.
PIMB: “Eazy-E” talks about the origins of California hip-hop and its gangster rap history, what do you think is the landscape of California hip-hop today? You’ve got Odd Future, Pac Div collectives, Busdriver, Nocando—Where do you think West Coast hip-hop is today?
Murs: I think it’s all over the place. I think we’re definitely having a rebirth of sorts. Now, I think it’s always been there, the different types of West Coast hip-hop, but now we’re being recognized for more than what we’re used to getting recognized for. We’re going to be known for something else. We’re going to be known for Murs, we’re going to be known for Kendrick Lamar. We’re going to be known for Dom Kennedy. We’re going to be known for people outside of gangster rap. As well as, we’ll never—I think we’re in an era now where we’re not ashamed to admit our ties to gangster rap. That’s something that’s always been true in the Bay, like, E-40 has given shout-outs to Souls of Mischiefs and vice versa. In L.A., it’s never been, like, DJ Quik, until recently, giving shout-outs to Tha Alkaholiks.
PIMB: Okay, to continue the California love, I just listened to “This Is Your Day” with Uncle Chucc and you talk about education, poverty…When 2012 elections roll through, should I write-in Murs for President?
Murs: Why not?
PIMB: Well, I need to know what you’re about! If you were President, what would you do?
Murs: Seriously? Or, Joking?
PIMB: Either way, I don’t care. [laughs]
Murs: [laughs] Seriously? I think welfare reform is so important. I think it’s important that it’s done by a person of color. So that it’s not seen as racist, because anytime someone that’s white says something about welfare reform it’s racist. And, I think that’s unfair. We need some welfare reform. We need reform in our Social Security, because we’re wasting a lot of money on people who don’t want to better themselves. [There are] people that are jaded in their position, the social workers aren’t even trying anymore because the people aren’t worth a damn and the system’s not set up—you know? We have to stop punishing a woman who wants to get a job, but if she gets a job you’re going to take away her welfare completely. So, she makes more money on welfare, so there’s no incentive for her. Social Security, this thing we leave in place that we don’t evolve—my, my thing would be evolution. Change is whatever, but evolving, transforming, transformation—that’s my platform.
PIMB: What about jokingly?
Murs: Jokingly? [laughs] I’d fix the NCAA right-the-fuck-up. Playoff system. We’ve got to figure out some type of fair way to compensate—
PIMB: College athletes?
Murs: Yeah! You can’t fuckin’ fuck Terrelle Pyror for trading a jersey for a tattoo. Like, are you serious? Look what they did to the Seahawks. Pete Carroll saw the investigation coming so he ran to the Seahawks and he ruined the Seahawks. That’s not fair to Seattle. College football is selfish. So, definitely college football would be on my top things to fix, jokingly. And, community service for rappers. For every 10,000 units you sell, ten hours of community service.
PIMB: Just ten?
Murs: Well I’m trying to get the people that are platinum. 100 hours a year, that’s enough, because you’ve still got to work.
PIMB: This is a little more on a serious note. One of the tracks off Love and Rockets that I think will surprise a lot of people is “Animal Style”. It talks about gay rights and hip-hop kind of has a history of homophobia—
Murs: Little bit.
PIMB: Why’d you decide to tackle the issue?
Murs: It’s a song I’ve been trying to do for a while and not a lot of producers were with it. Ski was like, “I don’t give a fuck.” I didn’t know how I was going to tell the story. The real reasons I can’t really voice, because there are people close to me that I feel like should come out and want to come out, but when you pressure them—without saying, “Hey, guys why don’t you come out?” I just want to try to help everyone. Maybe my friends will never come out, but some other people will come out.
PIMB: I read in an interview that you’re a nerd, but all you do is talk about politics. I mean, you play video games too, but what makes you especially nerdy?
Murs: As soon as we finish this interview I’m going to go to the comic book store and spend 80 dollars on comic books. And, I do that every week. Some weeks it’s $20, some weeks $80. This is a big week.
PIMB: Do you have any favorites?
Murs: DMZ, X-Factor, Black Panther, I’d be remiss not to say Love and Rockets. I love that comic.
PIMB: That’s where the title comes from?
Murs: Kind of, in a way, but that really has nothing to do with it. I love the comic though. I wouldn’t want to tarnish the good name of the comic by associating it with my rap music.
PIMB: I saw the video for “Remember 2 Forget” and besides all the paint, what happened to the hair? Where’d the hair go? It’s like Scribble Jam Murs.
Murs: [laughs] Yeah, that’s the funny thing. People were like, “Why’d you do it?”, “That’s the only reason…”, you know, blah, blah, blah, “You’re changing!” But, for the people that have been with me since day one, it’s not really a big deal. For the younger kids it’s unfair for them. I mean, it was time, man. It was time for a change. I could add a lot of words to it, but it was just time for a change.
PIMB: Have you ever thought about doing battle rapping again?
Murs: I thought about it. I thought about doing something with Grind Time, but maybe a little later. I don’t know. I’ve never believed in organized battle. I thought it was superficial and fake. My shit came outta mean just like in a fight and being confrontational. Now, it’s entertainment and it reminds me a lot of professional wrestling. So, I would definitely want to do it—there are some of my favorite characters, like Dizaster in Grind Time is fucking hilarious. And, fuckin’, what’s the white kid’s name, with the glasses?
PIMB: You’re narrowing it down to, like, everyone.
Murs: [laughs] See, I saw Mac Lethal do it and he did a good job for someone who’s not a typical battle rapper. He did a really good job against The Saurus, I think.
PIMB: Okay, what’s the funniest, most memorable moment you had in the studio with Ski Beatz and Dame Dash?
Murs: [laughs] We were recording and Ski has a son, his son is six. We’re doing “67 Cutlass” and Ski helped me with the chorus for once. Ski who has done the chorus for “Dead Presidents” and “Luchini”, like, he wrote those. Classics. He didn’t write any hooks, but he did say, “That part in the beginning where you say, ‘In the ’67 Cutlass we were riding…’ that part, that’s going to be the hook.” I said, “Okay.” He said, “But, you’ve got to come up with something else.” I was like, “Thanks a lot, Ski.” So, me and his son had become friends, because I’m a nerd and he has Pokemon cards. So, he was teaching me how to play Pokemon. We talked about Power Rangers and shit that I should not know anything about at 33 years old, but I do know a lot about.
And, Dragon Ball Z. He’s really into Dragon Ball Z and so am I and so is his 14-year-old. So, I was like one of the kids. I would just lay on the floor and talk to them all day. He kept knocking on the door and we came in there, because—he calls me Murance, which is now transferred into Murancy—[Ski] said, “Man, his name is Murs.” His son said, “Well I like calling him Murance.” [laughs] So, Murance and his dad (Ski) were other room doing something that he wasn’t a part of, so he kept knocking. You know kids. He was, like, knocking, “I want some water!” “I have to go the bathroom!” And, then one time when I was doing the hook, “Two pounds of skunk and the pig in the trunk.” He knocked on the door and we’re like, “What up, man?” He says, “Guys, it’s piiiiiig in the trunk. It’s a long ‘I’. Piiiiig.” And, he’s six, yo! He looked me dead in the face and said it. So, we lengthened it. That’s how it became, “a piiiiig in the trunk”, instead of, “a pig in the trunk.” I was like, “You have no idea what you’re saying. To you, there’s really a pig in the trunk.” [laughs] So, his son is a brilliant producer. He’s brilliant anyway, he meditates and a whole bunch of other shit. That was the funniest thing. It was funny, but it really did sound better like that!