Ask any hip-hop fan with an ear to the indie scene of this past decade: "Who is the best underground rapper?". The name "Murs" will definitely come up ... a lot. Since first blessing the West Coast scene with his 1997 LP, F'Real (Veritech Records), the (former) famously-dreaded emcee has gone on to build a die-hard fanbase and is set to leave hip-hop with a timeless legacy. That is, of course, if the day comes for retirement.
Having gained a rep for possessing a tireless work ethic (he played 58 shows in 65 days, while on tour with Tech N9ne last year), Murs continues to stay on the grind, prepping the release of Love & Rockets, Volume 1: The Transformation -- a full length collaborative album with producer Ski Beatz -- which is due out October 11.
We (BallerStatus.com) kicked it with Murs to discuss the new LP, indie versus majors, losing those famous dreads, and more.
BallerStatus.com: How are you feeling in the build up to releasing Love & Rockets, Volume 1: The Transformation?
Murs: I'm feeling really good. I really love the team I'm working with. BluRoc is an amazing collection of people.
BallerStatus.com: Love & Rockets is your first full project with Ski Beatz. Was it an easy transition from working with the likes of 9th Wonder? How was the chemistry between yourself and Ski?
Murs: It wasn't an easy transition. Ski wasn't too familiar with my work, but I think we got along well enough. I feel we are still getting familiar. Well, I should say he is still getting familiar with me. He is a certified O.G. in the game, so I am, of course, familiar with his catalog. After 50 cities of touring with me this fall, he will be very familiar with my music, fans, family and friends across the country. We will be able to work together with greater synergy on the next record if the fans see fit. We feel it's the right thing to do.
BallerStatus.com: What's your favorite record produced by him?
Murs: Probably "Swing" by Camp Lo, but I'm always finding something else he did, so that may change.
BallerStatus.com: Ab-Soul is one of the few rappers that is featured on Love & Rockets. What do you make of the new school that's sprung from the West Coast in recent years?
Murs: I'm big fan of them all and I'm very happy for their success. I'm sure it has helped me in ways and I hope I have been of some benefit to all of them as well.
BallerStatus.com: You recently presented the video to the "Remember 2 Forget" track, in which you rapped about forgetting heartbreak and moving on. I take it this was from personal experience...
Murs: Very much so. I feel I left fans with "The Break Up" from Murs For President and this is the follow-up. Breaking that cycle, going back and forth with the same person, it's a new mantra for all of us who continue to love wholeheartedly.
BallerStatus.com: Now, grinding so hard these past few years has left you requiring a hernia operation, am I right? When are you planning to take time off and undergo this?
Murs: I took about two weeks off right after the Tech N9ne tour to get it done, then got back on the road. I had to lay off of the splits and jumps for a few gigs though! That was trying because when the music starts, the adrenaline takes over and I want to go all out. But, I'm 100% now and back to ripping sh**. Thanks for asking.
BallerStatus.com: No problem. As well as been known for your dedication to the music, you're also famous for being an artist that's taken the independent route. How different is it releasing material on, say Def Jux, to working under a major like Warner Bros.?
Murs: Def Jux was an all heart and love operation -- a bunch of friends supporting each other's art, but not always making the best business decisions. Warner Bros. was filled with a lot of people who love the art, but also want to keep their jobs. It was a lot of checks and balances to make sure money is not wasted, but all the red tape can sometimes hurt the creative process.
BallerStatus.com: Have you ever thought of starting your own indie label?
Murs: Yes, but I have never really had the desire to control or be responsible for another artist's career in that capacity. I could possibly see myself on the artist management side. It would have to be a really special artist(s) that had his or her head on straight and had my work ethic.
BallerStatus.com: Something that's probably a talking point with yourself are those dreads. There's a video on YouTube of you getting them cut in a barbershop. How painful was it to go for the chop?
Murs: Not at all painful, sir. It was time for them to go!
BallerStatus.com: That was the trademark Murs look! What made you decide to get them cut?
Murs: A whole host of reasons, but as the title of the new record suggests, it was time for transformation.
BallerStatus.com: Not many people may know of your punk fusion side project (dubbed The Invincibles) with the band, Whole Wheat Bread. You built a little buzz back in '08. Any movements for the future with them?
Murs: The band is disassembled at the moment, but I have spoken to Dame [Dash] about putting out the record we recorded. I believe in it very much and I feel my fans and Whole Wheat Bread fans deserve to hear it and love it.
BallerStatus.com: Congratulations on your Rock The Bells performance. You've got a new tour that just kicked off. Which cities can people catch you playing at?
Murs: 50 cities from coast to coast in the US. People can check HipHopandLoveTour.com for a city near them. If it's not in yours, we should be coming close enough. And the show, I guarantee, will be more than worth the drive!
BallerStatus.com: There's word that you and 9th are working on another collaboration. What can you share on that?
Murs: It will be our fifth and final project together (tears) as Murs and 9th Wonder. It will be called The Final Adventures of Murf and Beef Dog.
BallerStatus.com: And finally, what can we expect to see from Murs in 2012?
Murs: A comic book (Merch-Girl.com) with an accompanying soundtrack by DJ Foundation and yours truly. Hopefully The Invincibles record, a mixtape or two, and Love & Rockets, Volume 2: The Declaration, of course!