MURS Takes Blurred Culture On “A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable” BC INTERVIEW: MURS
LOS ANGELES, CA- MURS is a Los Angeles treasure who lives on the edge of the underground hip-hop world. Always testing the limits of what creative ideas he can manifest, he is one of the most innovative artists in the industry. As his Strange Music Family puts it “The renowned and respected emcee’s debut album Have A Nice Life, follow-up Captain California, critically-acclaimed ¡MursDay! (a collaborative project with label mates ¡MAYDAY!), and world record for “Longest Rap Marathon” has helped cement MURS and Strange as independent juggernauts.” His music has always been honest with powerful storytelling and strong poetic imagery. His lyrics have a unique way of putting you in specific moments of his life.
“A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable” takes listeners into a moment that isn’t as light-hearted as the MC’s previous work. This 15th full-length album was released on his 40th Birthday and is a milestone for MURS’ experience as a rapper and as a father. The project paints a clear picture of where MURS is in his life. Revealing that although he has endured trying times, he has found a way to climb out of momentary instances of writer’s block to create what may be his most personal material to date.
We were able to have a chat with MURS at Strange Music Head Quarters about his album the night after his birthday celebration and got some details about his new album. “The Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable” is just as the title suggests. In this project MURS taps into his emotions and invites listeners on his journey to push on despite all that’s happening in the world.
Happy Birthday, Murs! We checked out your album release party last night how did you like it?
It was good to see just the homies man like everybody, but you guys are now the homies. But I was way too drunk, Prof said it wasn’t the drunkest I’ve been. But I got to be that drunk friend last night. I brought my friends on stage from my neighborhood, like ‘Listen to this song!’ cause one of my homeboys has been in jail for a minute and I put his name in the song and didn’t tell him. But his son was there and I just wanted to have my homeboy on stage in front of his son to show em ‘your dad is OG.’ And I got to drunk-lecture his son. The way his dad came up was pretty rough and I just told him ‘I’m from where you’re from and this is what you can do. You gotta focus, leave all the bullshit alone. It’s not worth it.’ But I was really drunk so I got to lay it on him “You motherfucka!…” I’m sure I sounded like a fuckin’ dickhead but I’ve never had that moment. But I’m 40, I can do that shit now. I probably embarrassed my wife a little bit…you know good shit, I’ve never had a birthday like that! Yeah…I probably might not drink anymore. Then I’m still a parent too so I’m up at 7 and I literally fell out on the couch last night. My wife surprised me in the morning and had a pancake artist come and cook vegan pancakes for my whole family. I woke up and dead-ass had a hangover, same clothes I had on last night. And so my grandfather and grandmother are there, my mom, my stepdad, my son comes running in with balloons and here comes this lady with a pancake griddle and I was like what the fuck is going on?
So let’s get into the album. I’ve always loved your storytelling and this particular project goes into a deep story. It’s a lot more personal, when did you start making it?
Late November, I had five weeks to turn it in so it was a rushed job.
With the intro “The Unimaginable” did you know when you were making the song it was going to be that deep?
I knew the album was gonna be that way, I didn’t know which song it was gonna be. I thought because of everything that was happening in the past years, there was no way I was going to make old my release date I picked this date like three years ago. So I knew I was turning 40 and said I want to put out an album for my 40th birthday. And after everything that happened I was like ‘yeah I’m not going to be able to tour, we’re expecting our second child now, we lost our first child. So I thought “I don’t want to put an album out with you guys and not support it, I wasn’t able to support the last one let’s just push it back to September.” and they were like ‘no we want it now, it’s your birthday it’s a big deal. we want you to keep it.’ So I thought ok five weeks all this shit is gonna come up.
One of the lyrics that I liked most was “This is not really music, it’s me dealing with my thoughts”
Yeah, I think that’s always been the approach of my music. Maybe, why it’s not as popular. My mom always says that my shits too personal. But it’s all I know how to do and just working it out for myself and hopefully, that helps other people work through it. Unfortunately, that’s not what people wanna hear in the clubs or what’s going platinum right now.
But does that matter?
No, and that’s why at the beginning of the album I say ‘this is not gonna be music it’s just gonna be me thinking out loud.’ If you dig it cool if you don’t cool.
I’ve appreciated your thought process of being “the rebel” in a hip-hop industry full of trap artists. In an industry full of materialism you strive for normality, things like being a dad. Why?
Yeah, I always say that; how many people can actually relate to trapping?
Right, and they sell way more than me. And I rap about shit that everybody can relate to. and I sell way fewer records. But music for some people has become an escape, people are trying to escape.
“Melancholy” was one of the video’s you dropped. It was set in an open mic? What was the idea behind that?
That’s just how I felt when I recorded the song. The guitar intro made me feel like I was there and it reminds me of the time I performed at a cafeteria at SXSW. No one’s really paying attention to you and you’re rapping your heart out. I feel like that’s how I feel in the rap world like ‘no one wants to hear what I’m talking about anyway.’
Then there’s the video you dropped for “Powerful.” In that song, you say “I stand for the flag and I stand for my people” what did you mean by that?
I’m not really a Black Lives Matter kind of person. I feel like we live in this country and the best part about America is that if you don’t like it you can get the fuck out. Not standing for the flag hasn’t saved one black life. Run for office, do something else, there’s more stuff for us to talk about. That’s not addressing the issue, it’s another division between people. I’m extremely pro-black. I’ve adopted children because I love black children to get them out of the system, I volunteered, every day I shop at black business, my family owns black businesses in the community and employees black people. I love black people. But because I stand for the flag doesn’t mean I love black people any less any less, or because you don’t stand you love them anymore. And that’s how I feel about America, we didn’t have a great start but that’s not where we’re gonna end.
I see where you’re coming from looking at things from the perspective of ‘what are we actually doing?’
Yeah, like there’s no black owners in the NFL, why weren’t we boycotting before? Football employs a lot of people of color, it makes more millionaires than any other business. Why are we boycotting this again? Let’s continue to let these black players get their money, stand for the flag all day and then get your check and do something in the community. That’s what I love about Colin Kaepernick, I don’t agree with him not standing for the flag but I love what he’s done with his money. He got active. He encouraged more people to act, so I think that’s a good thing. I think he could have stood for the flag and still done that. But he didn’t and I think that’s the beautiful thing about America is you can choose to do that.
On a lighter note, what about “Superhero Pool Party,” that song reminds me of Slick Rick’s Children’s Story.
Yeah, that’s what somebody said. I was working for HipHopDX doing Breakdowns and I think I covered Slick Rick and his stories [are] so amazing. Maybe that’s where it came from. That and just having my son in the booth.
“A Lean Story” What made you want to make that song?
I always wanted to tell that story, it was interesting. And I think it’s interesting how things get popular. Like I was smoking weed when I was a kid before Snoop Dogg and Chronic came out. And people were like you’re doing drugs! And then these guys said it was cool so it was like wow the same people that used to shit on me or snitch on me are now trying to buy weed off from me. Same kinda thing with lean, I got onto it because of my brother like I said in the song who went to college at Texas and it’s a great drug for someone like me who has a problem sleeping, has anxiety and loves sugar and soda. But you couldn’t get it everywhere so I wasn’t in danger of getting hooked on it cause you couldn’t find it in California. When I went to Texas I would have my boy bring me up some or when I was doing this festival called Paid Dues because I was all stressed out and just wanted to sleep. I used it medicinally but after using it I was like “yo, I could really be addicted to this.” I just wanted to put a different kind of story out about it.
We are exposed to an evolved MURS in this album. Someone who has been through “The Unimaginable” and managed keep going regardless. Although the album digs deeper than fans may be used to, it shows how vital MURS stands in the culture. He has always pushed the boundaries of hip-hop and remains one of the most underrated artists in the game.
“The Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable” is available everywhere now.
Went through a lot these past for years and put it all into this new album.
Take A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable with me.
— A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable | 3/16 (@MURS) March 17, 2018
Kimberly Quitzon is a L.A. based music journalist and digital marketer…follow on social media: @kimquitzon.