Murs (Los Angeles)
Published in The Pulse of The Twin Cities
by Kandis Knight
It was another chilly Saturday in the Twin Towns, and according to my watch, the doors for the RJD2 and Prince Po concert at the Triple Rock were soon to open, I felt torn. I knew it was going to be a sold out show.
I promised my friends that we would all go down to the show together. But I knew I could make it up to them by the end of the night, I had something spicy brewing. My interview for this week was a once-in-a-lifetime spontaneous type of occurrence and I didn’t get to really tell them what I was up to. I just went with the flow because it was a blessing.
I found myself frantically rushing around my house getting ready to go to the studio for what would soon become one of my favorite interviews of all time. I almost cried when I burned a hole in the skirt I was going to wear and tripped over my cat three times.
Maybe it was the universe trying to remind me to slow down and it ain’t April any more. I didn’t let it get me too frazzled, hey, I thought, I was just going with the flow. As I applied makeup and did my hair, the call I was expecting came in. “Hello,” I said.“Hello ma’am,” said a charming voice on the other line.
“We can do the interview at the studio.”
“What time?” I gulped.
“Now,” he chuckled.
Exactly what I didn’t want him to say. But I was still anxious to meet him especially after we had talked a little online. I frantically put everything into overdrive. But I had to chill out when I got outside. It was getting rather frigid to say the least. When we finally arrived, things were hot and steamy at Joe Mabbot’s Hideaway Studio snuggled in a warehouse near the mighty Mississippi river.
On a night when most of us are getting ready to go out and check out a show or getting our drink on, the Rhymesayers were getting busy doing the things that keep them on top of the game. As I pulled up to the studio, a dark mysterious car, resembling the batmobile approached; the way the lights were shining down on the warehouse made me feel like we were in a comic strip scene. A mysterious silhouette emerged from the shadows. It was Ant with his game face on.
As soon as we opened the studio door, we were greeted by a black dog being pursued by a gentleman who was bent over and looking down with the concern of a very loving owner. “Taffy, come here Taffy, Taffy I love you, I love you Taffy.” Wow I thought, watching this man tenderly petting Taffy. I never saw a black man so into his dog. Then he stood up, wiped his hands off and greeted me.
“Hello, I’m MURS.” Yes, it was him, Definitive Jux’s all-star and superhero to many, the rapper from the Living Legends crew who guested on roughly 20 albums (all of them hugely influential in the rap underground) until finally releasing his own solo record, The Beginning of the End, in 2003.
We shake, our eyes finally meet and I laugh. I guess I wasn’t prepared for such an on-the-spot welcome. But, as I soon learned, it’s hard to know what to expect because MURS is pure comedy. “Come on in,” said MURS. I follow, thinking what a charming introduction, despite the fact that somehow my hands now smell like Miss Taffy.
“Hello Kandis, come on into the smoking room,” said Slug.
I smiled. MURS followed. We eventually decided I would write the story from the position of an observer and I would let them continue working. MURS and Slug are in the studio working on the follow-up to their 2002 collaborative EP, Felt, dubbed a “tribute to Cristina Ricci” and an indie-rap classic. My larger plan is to hopefully tag along to KFAI where MURS and Slug are going to be on RSE Radio with Prince Po and then hopefully we can all go down to the RJD2 show at the Triple Rock. I cross my fingers. Once things are settled, Slug, whose work ethic never seems to slacken, heads right back into the booth. “8,7,6,5,4, and 3 and 2 and 1 and when I’m on the mic the women cum, down with A.N.T., MURS and your not and I got more rhymes than California got cops.” He’s relentless.
I look to my left, and MURS is there smiling and talking shit about sports. Slug is in the booth laying shit down. To my right is Ant calmly bobbing his head, surveying. Joe is busy on the computer.
“This is great,” I think to myself, life is good and I’m surrounded by some extremely great energy here. MURS can’t help but bust a few good jokes every time the music stops. His energy level will never taper off for the duration of the night. It must be his vegan diet and new drug and alcohol free way of life.
Murs is truly high off life. His energy practically makes the room buzz.
“Sean Daley is in the house!” he screams. I’m slowly getting used to MURS’ sudden unexplained outbursts—it’s obvious he likes to stir shit up. I wonder if our Minnesota-ness makes him antsy. Despite his jokes, MURS is still paying careful attention to what’s going on with the music. He exchanges tips and speaks up when Slug is having a problem with a verse.
“You played with the word beaver last time when you said it and maybe that’s what’s setting your buzzing off,” says MURS. “I’m feeling you MURS,” replies Slug, and he proceeds to nail the verse.“That was it right there,” says Ant authoritatively.
Music magic I think, this shit sounds dope!Watching these two interact is like watching two brothers, of course Slug is the older, more “refined” veteran and MURS is the hyper “fun loving” younger (regardless of their actual respective ages). Their synergy in the studio is amazing and tonight I have heard two tracks that are definitely going to break some ground.
We arrived at KFAI. Rhymesayer’s Radio was blazing (KFAI 90.3 F.M. Saturday’s from 9 p.m.-11:00 p.m.). Prince Po was just getting ready to hit the booth. Everyone was in the zone to say the least. Prince Po hit the mic ferociously, his freestyles were raw and his veteran confidence was interesting to witness in such an up close and personal setting. Everyone just stood there bobbing our heads in unison looking on. Kevin was keeping the tables hot and Siddiq was holding down the hosting and fundraising side of things.
As soon as Slug and MURS hit the booth RSE Radio was instantly transformed into “The Slug and MURS show.” The two wildly charismatic emcees easily fell into their roles as radio show personalities. I don’t think there’s anything they can’t do and rapping may just be the beginning of it. By the end of the night I decided MURS would make a great comedian because he kept everyone laughing every chance he got.
He let me know that 2005 may mark his acting debut so that means his career can take off in more than one direction. Once we left the studio, MURS realized he left his Pizza Luce brownie behind. We waited close to 10 minutes for someone to bring it down. Sweets are really important to this guy.
We arrived at the Triple Rock and were greeted witha capacity crowd for progressive turntable maestro RJD2’s headlining gig. People were being turned away and didn’t look very happy about it. The place was so crowded it was hard to even find a good place to stand. MURS opted to go for a more incognito look. He donned a skull cap, a mesh hat and a hoodie. The Living Legends logo on the back of his jacket probably made some people curious but he didn’t get asked too many questions.
The guys from Hanger 18 were selling T-shirts but I didn’t bring enough money to buy one, I was pissed. All at once it was like a trance fell over everyone. RJD2 was going on. I forgot about MURS and the interview (no disrespect). I forgot about my friends. For a moment I forgot about where I was, we all just sort of kicked back and enjoyed the ride.
When we left the show it was very late. I left my car two blocks away in the Radio K parking lot so it was nice of MURS to walk us to our cars even though it was so cold outside. We agreed to meet for breakfast to wrap things up. I was still processing everything he had to say.
As soon as we entered Bryant Lake Bowl, MURS heard the sound of pins crashing, he looked over my shoulder and said, “Only in Minnesota do you see white people bowling this early in the morning!”
I think he liked the concept.Over breakfast we were finally able to talk. “I’m about as street as [the indie rap] underground gets and Slug is about as Emo as it gets so we are the last two people you’d think would be doing an album together.”
MURS humbly admits he plays the role of student when he gets in the studio with Slug and Ant. “They teach me so much, I’m not the best rapper and hopefully I teach them something too. Probably not though, because they’re really good at what they do. The first album I did with Slug I learned a lot and I recorded stuff with Ant and I learned a lot from him also.”
For someone as busy as MURS (he’s guested on more than 20 albums and is constantly in musical demand) the demands made by the music industry might seem overwhelming, but he’s managed to remain level headed in the midst of his daily chaos.
“I don’t know anything about the music industry,” he claimed. “I would be a poor model to follow. I just do what I want. I like money but there are some things I won’t do for money. Do what you feel. I can’t tell anybody anything about the music industry. It’s a hard life—how about that?”
I also found out MURS is a huge fan of Disney movies. “I bought ‘Aladinn,’ I got to buy ‘Mulan.’ I know all the songs by heart. I loved ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Do you know the words to that song?” He starts singing. In the future MURS would like to do a song with DJ Quick and other legendary West Coast rappers. For now he is focusing on wrapping up Felt 2 with Slug, his tour and getting back in the studio with 9th Wonder in North Carolina. Murs’ blog site on Myspace.com says he never goes home, and I believe it.
This man is truly devoted to his craft. If you don’t have a MURS CD in your collection make sure you fix that. His ties to the local scene are evident and his talent is worth way more than the cost of a CD. He’s got lyrics that will have your mind spinning for days!