MURS INTERVIEW with guest appearance by LUCKYIAM.
ILSE: What have you been up to today? You’ve just had an interview at Triple J?
LUCKY: I just saw two of my ex-girlfriends today. Hello.
ILSE: A girl in every port?
MURS: YES! I’m the rapper, he’s the whore. MC [points to self], slutpants [points to Lucky]. I’m the rapper, he’s the slutpants.
LUCKY: Yah, yah, yah. [makes yapping hand motion]
MURS: Watch me on the mic. Off the mic, mind your business. Not On Duty.
ILSE: I saw on the Living Legends site in 2004 that you were planning to do an EP and a full length with Def Jux, and then go back to being independent, is that still the case?
MURS: We don’t know what’s going to happen, but no more Def Jux, that’s for sure.
ILSE: Why’s that?
MURS: That was always the deal, I’ve said that from the beginning. It was supposed to be one album, but with the 9th album, I thought it could be a big step for them, and for me, and I wanted to see what they could do with it. I’ve spent a lot of money on that album, out of my own pocket, so?
ILSE: Have you made any money from it?
MURS: No. I’ve never made a dollar from Def Jux. They spend a lot of money trying to promote you, independent labels; you don’t really make a lot of money. But they did a lot for my name and helped build me up, so I think it’s a fair exchange. I’m not regretful; I have nothing bad to say about Def Jux, only great stuff.
ILSE: I’ve also been told you’ve been working with Z-Trip, could you tell us a bit more about that?
MURS: [laughs] I dunno if you’d call it work. I go to Z-Trip’s house probably three times every other month, and we sit there for like eight hours and we talk, and make music. We have some of the most ridiculous songs recorded, ever, shit people wouldn’t believe.
ILSE: Any plans to release them?
MURS: We did one song we wanted to release. I got my wisdom tooth pulled, and I drove straight to his house afterward and my mouth was numb, we recorded it, and it was great, but the label won’t clear it.
ILSE: Why not?
MURS: It’s a song about Saturday morning cartoons, there’s a lot of names mentioned and they think we’ll get sued for not portraying the characters in a positive light. We’ve always planned on putting some random 12 inches out together, he’s a really good friend of mine and we just have so much fun together.
ILSE: Are you working with anyone at the moment, any projects you have going right now?
MURS: Nah. I did like 5 albums this year!! I did the Living Legends album, I did a Melancholy Gypsies album, I did a Felt album, I did a sound track and a short film, and I did another album that I’m not going to talk about. I also did some work with Madlib and Dangermouse this year.
ILSE: Was that the Sudan album, for the refugees in the Dafur area?
MURS: Yeah, somebody fucken knows it! I hope more people buy it. It’s put out by Waxploitation, I just got a call from Dangermouse asking me to do a track for it! He lives just round the corner from Z-Trip’s house actually, so I turned it in and that was that. Then he left to go to London to make the Gorillaz album and I went nowhere important like that! I work with Z-Trip, I work with 9th and I feel like I’m their friend, you know? We just do things cos we’re friends. I was at Dangermouse’s and Ike Turner came over to play the piano, and by the way, Ike Turner can play the fuck out of a piano. I’ll be chillin and the guy who owns Mowax will ring up; “oh Dangermouse, you’re the greatest!” or Ludacris’ manager will call up, “we’re having a release party, come to Ludacris’ house this weekend, a little private get together” and he’s like, “I can’t I’m doing the Murs album” [laughs]. I don’t fell like I’m standing in the shadows, I think it’s nice to be a fly on the wall. Producers are hotter than rappers this year. Madlib, Jaylib, wow.
ILSE: On the track “You and I” on the “End of the Beginning” album you’re talking about some of the accessories that come with success, “all the bullshit in between is senseless” interviews, managers, lawyers, logos, promos, photos. Has that changed for you or do you still feel the same frustration you were expressing on that track?
MURS: Yeah, you know, I don’t like it, the interviews and all that other shit. But it’s your job. I don’t feel the exact same way, if anything I feel a little stronger.
ILSE: Is that from a bad experience, or just from being round longer?
MURS: From being round longer, from not being able to take a break from it. When I put out 3:16 I didn’t want to do interviews, I didn’t want to tour, but El kind of talked me into it, so I did it, so now that’s just another year of doing stuff I didn’t want to do. So with the next album, I probably won’t do any interviews or anything, but then again, who knows? People always make me do things I don’t want to do. I’m a sucker for money.
ILSE: So you’ve just finished Felt 2?
MURS: Yeah that’s right.
ILSE: You know Atmosphere are going to be out here at the end of the month?
MURS: Yeah hopefully I’ll still be here, hang out with those guys.
ILSE: Yeah and DJ Spooky will be here doing a sound track to the movie Birth of a Nation.
LUCKYIAM: Is that that racial thing? The movie about the Klan?
MURS: I can’t watch that shit. My mumma will go see that shit too!
LUCKY: That is fucked up!
MURS: I get upset, I start trying to kill white people. They don’t need to show that shit, in America it’d incite a riot. You know that American white people are fucked up, Australians too, your forefathers are fucked up. No one needs to watch a movie to know that, you need to watch a movie to remind you that before you were here this whole land was covered with aborigines? And now you can go a whole day without seeing one?
Isn’t he black? DJ Spooky?
LUCKY: I’ve seen that fool fakin like he was spinnin records
MURS: Uh-oh. He gonna kick your ass
LUCKY: I’ll beat the shit out of DJ Spooky
MURS: I want a T-shirt that says that
BOTH: I beat the shit out of DJ Spooky!!
LUCKY: I’ll wear it to his show, in the front row!
MURS, laughing: Imma shit on myself right now! Hahaha. On the back, you gotta have, “for real”. Bumper stickers here we come.
ILSE: Do you think that’s a direction you might go in to make some money with the Def Jux juggernaut, making T-shirts?
MURS: For real. I got a lot of things in the works. Like I said, I got my own movie!
ILSE: Tell me a bit about that?
MURS: It’s a movie based on “Walk like a Man”, it’s a short film about 20 or 30 minutes long, and it’s got a soundtrack featuring Atmosphere and CMA, all my friends that want to give me songs for free. This movie cost me upward of $10, 000 to make, I ain’t never gonna make my money back. The movies probably going to be bad, I haven’t seen the final cut but I can’t act. And they made me be in it, so..
ILSE: They made you?
MURS: Yeah it’s payback for all the shit I talked about NAS [laughs]. At the end of the day people can talk shit about anything, but no one’s ever made their own movie. I hope people watch it and laugh, it’s about a song I wrote, it’s hilarious. Like the way I buy E40’s movies and Master P’s movies, I’m a fan of that. And I finally did my own. I don’t know if the movie will be poor, I’ll let the people decided that. I’m very critical of myself, but the people who made the movie are really stoked, and they’re film majors. It was kind of like a dare. We got in the same room, and it was all, “well, if you’ve got this much money we can!” and I was all “well, here’s that much money!” and all of a sudden you end up with a love scene and my oily chest, a naked woman!
MURS: Hot. Hot. You better buy that shit. I don’t care if you burn anything, just buy my movie. Don’t burn it, that’s shit cost me a lot of money.
ILSE: I read on UK hip hop.com that you were pro the Iraq war, has your stance changed on that?
MURS: I’m American, I support my country. I’m not one of these acts who come over here and say, “Fuck George Bush!” He’s doin what he’s doin, and I don’t give a fuck. If Iraq or whoever decides to bomb us tomorrow, it doesn’t matter if I was for or against the war, I’ll still be a dead motherfucker [laughs]. As far as the actual politics that are involved? I don’t give a fuck. I don’t feel bad about anything. You’re troops, and you’re over there? You chose to be in the army, and you job is to kill people your President tells you. Don’t start complaining now, you shouldn’t have singed up for the fucken army. Sorry, go kill people. Do your job. You signed up to kill people and play with guns. That’s your job. I don’t like killing people or playing with guns so I don’t do it. It’s fucken war. War has been around forever, and there have always been warriors. I’m pro the guy who’s over there that wants to be there, that’s who I support. We’re humans, we have free will, we have disagreements, we like to fight. I’d rather all the people who like to fight be over there in one place fighting each other than be in my city, killing.
ILSE: When you were working with 9th you were unsure about the beats, you’ve said you didn’t like them at the time?
MURS: I fight with every producer. All I know is how to rap. I can write a rap song about anything, better than anybody on the planet. But I still don’t know shit about music. So you get together with someone who knows that shit, it’s a collaborative effort. And in the end, with 3:16, I think it came out really well. I hated it when I finished it. When I left, I hated it so much. But it was just a moment. That’s the thing about everything I do, it’s just a moment. I make so much music that that moment will be over. If people didn’t enjoy where I was in that moment, there’ll be another moment. I think people like the stuff I do cos at the core, I’m still the same person. Doesn’t matter if I do a drum ‘n’ bass track, or reggae-tone, or a fucking salsa song, to me it’s just another moment.
ILSE: Do you think you’ve shifted emphasis over the last ten years?
MURS: Hell no. I listened to my old shit the other day, and I’m rapping about the same shit, just in different ways, over different beats. I’m the same. At the core. Obviously some opinions change, but I’m still me.
ILSE: What has changed in that time?
MURS: [sighs] I don’t know.
LUCKY: You can rhyme on beat more.
MURS: That’s just about being a better rapper. I’m still not the best rapper. I get better every day, if I wasn’t getting better I’d stop. When I first stated rapping, I wasn’t even drinking I don’t think. Now it’s gone from drinking to not drinking, to not smoking, to cutting down on the amounts of CASUAL SEX [directed at Lucky], which is one of the biggest SINS! [laughter]. I’m trying to be a vegan now, that’ll probably change again, I drink more water.
ILSE: Just thinking about some of the rappers you’ve worked with like Slug and Aesop Rock, some of their tracks are really broad, they’ve been described as being a sort of “everyman” persona. Do you feel you do a similar thing, or do you rhyme about your own experiences?
MURS: If I tell a story it’s usually about me, or maybe about a friend I grew up with, who went down another path, sort of follow them down that way and see where they go. See, I don’t really speak for anybody but me and people like me.
ILSE: When you say “people like me”, who do you mean?
MURS: My friend came up with this term, “The Only’s”. It’s like, just, the only people who are like me. I dunno. Like you go somewhere, and you’re the only person like you? Usually you go somewhere and you’re the only black person in the room. Right now, in Sydney, we’re probably the only black people this side of town. I speak from the perspective of, a young black male who is not a complete idiot. A young literate black male, and that’s a very very rare thing. A well travelled literate black male. There’s not a lot of them. But I know there are people who enjoy that perspective. So yeah, I got a lot of different facets in me. You know, Slug’ll tell a story about his mother dying, whereas most of my stuff is grounded in reality still. He’s more broad and metaphorical, him and Aesop. I’m more specific and direct. When you get to the end of the song you know exactly what happened; they fought, they fucked, whatever. Slug? With him everyone can take a different thing away from his songs.
ILSE: And finally do you have any one you’re dying to work with?
MURS: Mmmm, people from my neighborhood. I lost one close friend I didn’t get a chance to work with cos he got shot, but other than that, there’s no one out of reach that I want to work with. I’ve worked with everybody I’ve been dying to work with. Now I’m just working with people I can work with and I will work with.
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