While there is nothing that will take away from Murs’ legacy, in our interview with the rap gawd, he shares his feelings about the people and things taken away from him.
There is nothing that will take away from Murs’ legacy.
Now, he somehow tops himself in unleashing his most personal project yet. As one of hip-hop’s leading independent artists, the Los Angeles native proves what 20-plus years in the game really entails. His new album titled A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable touches on tragedies that have befallen his life that could only be told through the art form dearest to him: music.
Signing to Tech N9ne’s Strange Music back in 2014 proved to be beneficial for both parties, as they helped each other grow and honed in on the skills and talents that most artists strive for. From his most recent divorce to the death of his newborn son, Murs uses the same lyricism that’s proven successful for him in the past to fully flesh out the events of his being on this new project.
Teaming up with producer Seven is also part of the creative journey, as he relies on the producer to help him curate the perfect sound, allowing him to focus on his pen game.
A couple days prior to his 40th birthday and album release show at The Roxy in Los Angeles, we spoke with Murs about his tenure in the rap game, reviving Paid Dues, appreciation for women, and more.
Okayplayer: This Friday is a big day for you — turning 40 and releasing your new album and performing in your hometown. What emotions or thoughts come to mind?
Murs: I don’t know. The same anticipation for any album. I’m not really a birthday person. I’m acknowledging 40, I’m grateful for 40, but I’m waiting on 45. Where I’m from, we don’t really celebrate 40. But I’m grateful, because I might not make it to 40. But I really wanna make it to 45 — and beyond. People do “over the hill,” I’m gonna do my big thing at 45.
OKP: Any hesitations or worries as the date gets closer?
M: No, I got work to do. The album is done… I’m hoping that it does well. I’m hoping that I can sell some units — hoping that the Okayplayer community supports. I been doing videos and all this shit, and then Phonte puts out an album out of nowhere and everybody’s like, “Yeah!!” So I’m looking for a little bit of that love, that’d be nice for once.
OKP: You’ve been in the game for over 20 years. What topics do you feel still need to be addressed in music?
M: Right now, we’re talking about losing a newborn child. I didn’t feel like that needed to be shared. I wish never had to talk about that. But I talk about that on the new album. I think that as we all get older, there’s a lots of things that… divorce and all those type of things that need to be discussed. I don’t know if I’m pushing that — that’s not like my lane, but just being an adult, like [rapping about] more mature topics… and wisdom.
I think there are a lot of people spewing knowledge, a lot of these young rappers are conscious rappers now, but they don’t know shit. They know shit, but they don’t know shit. They haven’t been through shit. They just like, “I saw this YouTube video and I read this book and I wrote a rap about it and it was great. I’m so knowledgeable and I’m so woke.” But really I think it’s my generation’s job to give the wisdom and the understanding. And I don’t think I’m in the understanding phase, but I’m definitely in the wisdom phase.
OKP: Do you feel like you’re the influence that you want to see in music? What other artists have done a good job of this?
M: Am I the influence I want to see in music? Yeah, definitely. Be the influence that you want to see in the world. I don’t know about as a parent, I’m still growing. But as a rapper, I’m definitely… hopefully… and I’ve been told by some of my peers. Having Ali Shaheed Muhammad or Q-Tip come up to me and saying, “Yo, thank you for carrying our tradition.” Or KRS-One lighting up when he sees me. Like, “You’re doing what we intended.” So I’ve heard that from a lot of the OGs, so I’m really, really grateful for the career that I’ve been able to maintain and the influence that I appear to be having on my elders and the next generation.
OKP: What are your thoughts on this generation’s youth and how you might see them Murs changing the world for the better?
M: [whistles] How are they gonna change the world for the better? I do not know. I think what Kendrick [Lamar], [J.] Cole, and those guys are doing is amazing. Even [Lil] Wayne, what’s he’s doing with his artists. And Rick Ross even, like actual rappers running labels that actually have artists that go on to do better than they do. That’s amazing. I think that’s a great thing for the culture, so I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to the future of TDE and seeing where that goes. Dreamville and seeing where that goes. The Weeknd is really interesting to me because he’s super hip-hop and he has influence. It’s just interesting to see that because I consider him hip-hop, so seeing where that goes and where his label goes, it’s all interesting to me.
OKP: Talk about what it takes to create a Murs album. What’s been your favorite (or least favorite) to make?
M: Wow. Sheesh. What does it take to make one? Just a lot of honesty and a lot of good beats. My favorite has been Melrose with Terrace Martin, which all my fans hate. My least favorite, initially probably was Murs 3:16. I did not like that record when I finished it.
M: I just didn’t like it. And then LP was like, ‘This is the best album.’ Phife [Dawg] was like, ‘This a great album.’ So that taught me early on that it’s not what you think, it’s what the fans think.
OKP: Your new album A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable is your most personal yet. From a divorce to the loss of newborn son, how does it feel putting your tragedies out for the world to hear?