Murs & Fashawn Describe Similarities With T.I., Claim Rappers Pretend Because They Hate Themselves

posted Wednesday September 26 ,2012 at 10:09AM CDT | 0 comments

Murs & Fashawn Describe Similarities With T.I., Claim Rappers Pretend Because They Hate Themselves

Exclusive: Murs and Fashawn advise "this generation," talk about similarities, gang culture, emceeing, graffiti and how they met when Murs almost fought Fash's manager.

It’s a scorching afternoon in Los Angeles, California. You take a few turns by timeworn, rusty train tracks and vacant lots to find yourself looking around at empty, paint chipped buildings and art spray painted on walls. Eventually, you’re almost completely surrounded by graffiti and chain-link fences. Behind locked gates, the set is closed for Murs and Fashawn. The two are filming a video for their collaborative project, This Generation, and it’s clear to anyone who observes them, on and off camera, that they are more like brothers than just another rapping duo.  

Fash is on his skateboard, trying out some tricks between takes. Soon, Murs gets on his own board (a small banana board he says is not his “real” board but “just for fun”) and the two share a few laughs before heading back to their spots in front of cameras. They naturally build off each other, rhyming along as their latest single blasts from the speakers. They’re working. It’s boiling outside and it’s roasting inside. But they’re having fun.

That’s likely what makes this pairing work so well but this collaboration almost never happened. The two weren’t friends before this. In fact, as they shared in this interview, there was a time when they didn’t think they’d ever interact with one another peacefully. But as they got to know one another, they realized they had a lot in common. Those similarities outweighed any differences they had and as a result, the two formed a bond that became stronger with time, solidified by their work together on this album and by their lives off the stage as well.  

Murs & Fashawn Discuss “Just Begun,” Skating

HipHopDX: The album starts off with Murs talking about his childhood, saying he was “weird.” You’ve spoken with us about walking down streets with a golf club, Murs. When you hear that, Fash, how does that spark memories of your own childhood? Or does it make you see how differently you grew up?

Fashawn: Well, I came up skateboarding when it wasn’t a popular thing. Now, it’s so exploited, but I was skateboarding and niggas would call me weird. My fellow brothers would call me weird. I’d always stand out because of that…and I’m mixed. Being mixed with Spanish and Black, just hearing him go through that kind of shit makes me feel more comfortable with being a mutt, if you will [laughing], being a mixed breed and just being an individual doing what I want to do. So that provokes many memories, for sure.

DX: Murs, is that part of the reason why you speak about your upbringing so often in songs, to try to inspire others who might also be going through similar situations?

Murs: Yeah, you know…I think that being Black, you’re already a minority. You stand out wherever you go. I think we’re only 12% of the nation’s population. So sometimes a lot of Black kids don’t feel comfortable doing anything else to stand out because you already stand out. But I want them to know that it’s okay to stand out, especially now, it’s okay to stand – I’ll even say – above or to the side of the mainstream or whatever’s considered popular.

Kids made fun of me because I read and because I was smart. I still am. We’re the only community that does that. There are nerds in every community but a lot of urban youth take pride in being stupid. So I’m encouraging you to just be yourself with whatever it is. Be the smartest gangbanger, be the smartest drug dealer, but be yourself. You don’t gotta buy the same clothes if you’re gonna sell crack. Fuckin’ buy a [Toyota] Prius. Whatever it is, man, stand out. We’re not all the same. Everybody’s different. That’s my thing. Be kind to people, man. Give everybody space to be themselves. Stop pretending.

Murs Shares Advice He’s Given To Kendrick Lamar

DX: On the same song, Murs, you talk about other artists showing you what not to do. You saw many get strung out and so on. How have you taken other artists under your wing? Fash, maybe you can also speak to what Murs’ done, whether knowing or not knowing, to help you.

Fashawn: I observe Murs as more than just an emcee. I look at him like a mogul, man, as an entrepreneur in this thing. Watching him do his thing, handling the Paid Dues [Festival], watching him go from that to hoppin’ on the microphone, that’s something that I aspire to do. I feel fortunate enough to do an album with him and see firsthand what that’s like. When he said that line, well, just the whole first verse is really definitive. “I’m worth millions on a 10 speed with tennis shoes.” That whole attitude, I love that about him. I admire that. I learn from him every session. Every time we link up, I’m like a sponge, man.

Murs: Everything he just said, I’m flattered by it. Thank you [looking at Fashawn]. I try to do that but I think a lot of young rappers, especially on the West Coast, they think that I want something from them. I don’t want your fuckin’ feature, homie. I don’t want you to do a beat for me. I don’t need shit from you. I’m just trying to tell you. You want to check out my account? ‘Cause, it’s good. [I advise them to] get an account or buy some property or, “Let me talk to your mom so I can tell her the things I wish my mom would have known.” Or, my mom does my merch booth for me so maybe they want to be friends. It’s just about how to watch your money, how to handle yourself but you know, not a lot of them listen. With Fash, I opened the door to him and he’s come to my thing at [Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s “Through the Mic” concert series], he’s come to my shows in Fresno, and he actually stays the whole time. He’s very observant; he’s a very learned young man. So, I appreciate it. Shout out to Curtis King and Reverie. There’s people who call me and really listen but then there’s people who never use it because they’re so guarded with me like I want something from them. But I just want to help everybody because no one did it for me.

DX: Is that why you do it? Because it’s not like you have to do it.

Murs: Right. Yeah, ‘cause no one did it for me and I feel like I care about Hip Hop. I also care about my community. To see us not working together, it hurts my heart.

I could be bitter like, “These dudes didn’t do it for me so I ain’t gon’ do it for you.” But that’s not the way the world works. There’s room for all of us. Also, someone told me, I don’t know if it was will.i.am or somebody, but [they told me], “When other people succeed, it’s good for the whole scene.” When Dr. Dre was winning, we were all winning, The Bay, San Diego, we were all winning. It makes it easier for everybody. An atmosphere of peace and unity creates a lot of money. I want to continue to be successful so…

One of the first millionaires I met, the dude who gave me my early contract, that introduced me to a lot of money, he said, “I want to see you go on and become richer than me. If I can’t do that, then I’ve failed.” He said, “I don’t know what it is with you people,” basically he told me, he was just keeping it real. “When you see such-and-such on television, he’s the man and all his homies are just around him. Why do you guys do that?” Him and his boss used to work together at a place. His boss left and started his own company and it was shitty. But he said, “I’m gonna make millions and I want you to come with me.” They made millions together. Then they brought in their children and their children became millionaires at this company. This is what I want. So, I always tell Fash, I tell Kendrick [Lamar], I tell Domo Genesis. I tell them all, “If I could help you, I’m not gon’ make it easy but I’ma keep trying to make a billion dollars and I hope you go ahead of me. If I end up with half a billion and you end up with two billion, I’m ecstatic.” I want the next generation to do better.

DX: What’s interesting is that in a couple of years, Fash, without you even being there, will be helping others as well.

Murs: Yeah! “Each one, teach one.” I heard Tupac say that a lot growing up. But it’s an old Black liberation proverb. It’s true. For me, I’ve studied under Chang Weisberg at Rock the Bells. I’ve studied under people at the museum [Los Angeles County Museum of Art] and I’ve studied under Slug and I’ve studied under 9th Wonder. I’ve even studied under Fash, even though he’s younger than me, I’ve learned a lot. Working with him, a lot of it is us going back and forth. It’s me copying his cadences. I’m horrible with coming up with cadences and my rhythm is horrible so him leading off helped me do it. I’ve learned lots of different pockets of the beat. We used to write rhymes and I’d watch him because I’m not too big to learn from him. It’s a two-way street.

DX: You’re a lifelong learner, huh?

Murs: Oh yeah. Hell yeah. You’ve gotta be if you’re gonna be anybody in this world.

Fashawn: That’s for damn sure.

DX: You talk about having similar dreams throughout the album, particularly on “64’ Impala.” When you met, what struck you both about your similarities?

Murs: When we met, I didn’t really see a lot of similarities. I was like, “Oh, he’s down with these dudes and they run like that? I’m not with those dudes like that.”

Fashawn: I really figured out our similarities gradually throughout the whole process…

Murs: Yeah, through the album. I was like, “Oh you really are like me! You’re surrounded by these dudes who everybody thinks are this [pointing to one side] but you’re really this [pointing to the other side].” To me, that’s real similar. People are like, “Why you rap with Slug if you’re really from the hood?” I’m like, “Yo, ‘cause I’m really from the hood, B.” This dude was like, “Come on the road with me for a year.” I was like, “Yo, I could stay here and go to jail or get shot? I’m on the road.” I don’t care if people call me “backpack” or “White boy.” Call me whatever the fuck you want but call me alive and blessed. He’s kind of similar. I was like, “Oh, I thought you were on the same shit as those other dudes.” But he’s on his own other shit. But if he can rap, do what he loves and make money, he’s gonna do it.

Fashawn: We definitely have that in common. I think the reasons we rap are very similar. Who we’re talking to in our songs is very similar. Once again, this is shit I found out later in the process. When I first met Murs, he almost fought my manager. That was a weird introduction. I didn’t know if we’d ever be friends after that. [Laughs] You know? Eventually, we got to meet each other personally. That was a bad introduction but we got our relationship started and yeah, man, we’re like connected at the head.

Murs: Yeah. I started talking to him and his name is Santiago. I’m like, “How the fuck did that happen?” He’s like, “I’m half-Mexican.” I’m like, “Fuck outta here.” I always wanted to be Mexican.

Fashawn: And I always wanted to be from L.A. so…

Murs: Yeah, it’s little shit like that. Like, he always has his skateboard around. So I’m like, “Yo, I should bring mine.” It’s just fun to skate. Skating is a big similarity, along with growing up around Crips and Bloods and all that other stuff.

Fashawn: We both wrote graffiti too. He got his Rap name from graffiti. My Rap name has nothing to do with my graffiti name but I used to write too. His graffiti’s probably better than mine but we’re cut from the same cloth, man.

DX: What did you write? You don’t have to say it if…

Fashawn: Oh, I wrote Breef One or Breefs, Breefers and a bunch of other variations.

DX: Fash, you talked about speaking to the same people. Who do you speak to?

Fashawn: I would like to think that we speak to people who are trying to find themselves, people who are on that infinite journey. Not the people who live like, “I might die tomorrow, I’ma live my life like fuck it.” I think we’re talking to people who have forever in mind, people who think about life after death, people who care about the community and niggas who still do chivalrous things, niggas who still open the door for their lady, brothers like that, people like that, men and women. I think we talk to those people, people who just want to be free from any form of oppression. Those are the people we’re talking to. Those are the people we’re speaking for.

Murs: I think we speak to good people and maybe even good people that come from bad circumstances. You don’t have to be your circumstances. People that despite everything that’s happened to them … like [Fashawn’s] story is ill as fuck, way iller than mine but he’s still a good dad. After all that, he’s a good dude, a standup dude. So we speak to good people, standup human beings.

Murs & Fasahwn Explain Touring With Tech N9ne & Similarities With T.I.

DX: That leads me to “Peace Treaty.”

Fashawn: Ooh!

DX: It has a feel good vibe. It doesn’t sound like a preachy song. It’s just like a song to roll down the street to.

Fashawn: For sure. For sure.

DX: But it’s deeper than that. Can you speak to what that message says to the communities you want to reach or what the song means to you personally?

Fashawn: For me, it’s a song that represents a colorless pride for eachother. Instead of, “I’m from the blue gang” or “I’m from this red gang.” It’s colorless. We’re all the same thing, whether you like it or not. Let’s celebrate life, man. Like the song says, “Nobody’s fightin’ / Everybody’s jumpin’ in even if they don’t like ‘em.” That’s a beautiful thing. It’s violent but at the same time, it’s showing unity. It’s showing the positive side of the areas we come from.

Murs: “Peace Treaty” was a song that I heard the beat for and I came up with it. [K-Salaam & Beatnick] changed the beat since then. I think Joell Ortiz has the original beat. They changed it.

For me, it can be corny to some people but I literally still go to birthday parties at Kenneth Hahn Park. I know, “Them niggas havin’ a birthday party over there? They’re from the other side. We’re all over here but everything’s cool.” I’m like, “Why can’t we just do this all the time?” I get into it with a lot of my homies because they’ll be like, “Them niggas from that, cuz, they’re all busters.” I’m like, “No! There’s busters over there just like we got such-and-such’s cousin who’s down with us. That nigga’s a punk but if we all go out and he get in a fight, then we all gotta jump in. Them niggas is the same way. There’s a buster from their hood too but there’s some real ass niggas and killers in their hood too.

I realized that while working with a lot of different Rap groups through Paid Dues, touring and my history. I went on tour with Tech N9ne and business was always good because we come from a gang culture. We understand that what you say is what you mean and what you mean is what you say. Thug dudes from different regions don’t understand our code. I think a lot of West Coast dudes beef and think like, “This gang’s wack” or “Them niggas is this.” They may be your enemies but don’t ever underestimate your enemies. We all have a certain code. The code on the West Coast is trippy because there’s no kings. There’s definitely no kings. Anybody can get it at any time.

When you have a down dude like Fash – he comes from the same culture so when we go somewhere, he’s not gonna be like, “You got beef with them?” and then leave hanging niggas out to dry. But I’ve been with Rap dudes that have been like that. And this even speaks to the Black and Brown discord that there is. It also speaks to, in the Latin community, I’m not really familiar with it but it trips me out, like some of my homies like, “Yo, love the [Oakland] Raiders.” But if they go to Raiders games, yo, it’s a fuckin’ problem. There’s the 13s, the 14s. I know in Fresno, it’s the line so he’s seen all of that [looking at Fashawn]. Then there’s the Blue Mexicans, the Red Mexicans.

Everyone can do better. If we all came together…Gang culture is some serious familial…the positives of it are good. If we pass that on to our children instead of colors and separation, it’d be great for humanity.

DX: But when you were a kid, you didn’t know that.

Murs: No, no. I don’t know how authentic to be but I just have to be, I’m at an age now. I grew up saying “cuzz.” I was never in a gang but that’s just how everybody talked. Even now, it’ll still come out. I remember being on tour with Tech N9ne and they’re all for-real Bloods. I was kickin’ it, smokin’ a cigarette with one of the homies on tour and they were like, “It’s time.” I was like, “Ah, shit cuzz. Let’s go!” He [stopped]. I was like, “Aw, man.  I’m sorry.” He was like, “It’s all good.”

[Kutt] Calhoun is a real dude, man, a real stand-up dude. I also know that I can bring my brother and all of the homies from my neighborhood. I don’t bring them everywhere because they have one mind-frame. I know that if someone says something, it could be really a problem. But if I know a camp of real dudes, whether they’re Bloods or Crips, I can bring my dudes. My people respect me. Their people respect them. But coming out the box, I was like, “Yo.”

I guess going to my first funeral really helped. If we could cut all that other shit, that’s what really helped, now that I’m thinking straight.

DX: You want me to delete all of the other stuff?

Murs: You could, if you want. It’s just longwinded but this is a more…I just thought like…Yo, motherfuckers who killed some of my friends aren’t punk-ass-motherfuckers just like my friend who died wasn’t a punk-ass-motherfucker. We could go on trying to prove to each other …

Fashawn: That could go on forever.

Murs: But that feeling I had that day? Never. I put dirt on that man’s body, yo. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, especially to a kid who’s angry because he doesn’t have his father just like I’m angry. We’re all angry for the same reasons. Me killing you doesn’t prove I’m realer than you. It just means I pulled the trigger first. My dude that died was a real dude. What now? He dead so he a buster? That changed my whole philosophy. In your head, when you’re younger, you think only the busters die or something like that but as you get older, you lose some real dudes. Anybody can get the drop on anybody and some coward niggas could kill a real nigga. When I seen that?

You killed a real mothafucker. Just because you killed him doesn’t make you not a punk because I could beat the shit out of you right now. Like I said, there’s soft ass dudes on both sides and a lot of times it’ll be the soft ass dudes who start shit and the real dudes have to come together.

Ugh. Yeah, man. Also, when you’re really active – I wasn’t really but I was around it, close to it – a lot of real dudes will come out the pen and be like, “Yo…”

Fashawn: “Squash that shit.”

Murs: “That shit’s stupid.” Because you could be locked up with a dude from another hood and you have to get along. Especially in the Black community, unfortunately, you have to all unite and fight this side of people. It’s just…It’s just really stupid. All I have to say to people, the more you travel, the more you realize gang-bangin’ is this big. They don’t have that shit in New York. Mothafuckas be going out, having fun on the train, getting at bitches, having a picnic and in North Carolina, I was like, “Yo!”

Fashawn: In Miami, it’s all good.

Murs: Yeah, mothafuckas is partying. We over here fuckin’ it up for ourselves.

Fashawn: [Reciting the lyrics to the song] “9-deuce truce, it’s about time”

Murs & Fashawn Together: “that we brought it back.”

Murs & Fashawn On “The Other Side,” Racial Divisions In Rap

DX: Yeah, that’s the spirit of the song. Now, on “The Other Side,” you speak on unjust labels that have been placed on you, for whatever reason. Can you expand on that by sharing what you feel people have misunderstood about your music or you as a person individually?

Fashawn: I think people think that me and Murs are just conscious backpack emcees or just conscious artists. I don’t think they understand why we do this here. For me, when I make music, it’s a spiritual process I go through. When I look at a blank sheet, I feel like a vessel. I feel like whatever’s coming through me, it’s the truth man and it’s what needs to be said, what needs to be heard. I think what’s really misunderstood about myself is that I’m just having fun with this, dancing around, smoking weed and spitting blasphemous shit. It’s not. I’m very aware of what I’m doing. I’m very conscious of it. But I think that’s what’s misunderstood about me, that I only want to rap about things that are positive and consciousness. That’s not the case, man. I rap about everything.

Murs: I don’t think the backpack label is unjust. It’s justified.

Fashawn: I love my Jansport. [Smiles]

Murs: But I don’t like how people separate it by color. Like, “Oh, that’s for White boys.” I want kids in the hood to be able to think that they could be me too. It’s okay to be a backpack rapper. Especially now in the game, I know I’ve been through way more hood shit than a lot of these mothafuckers that are talking it. I don’t talk it but if he’s a trap rapper, then call me a trap rapper too. Fuck it. If you listen to “Walk Like a Man,” and if you listen to “H.U.S.T.L.E.R.” – I’m talking about ghetto shit.

The difference between my raps and T.I.’s raps, my beats aren’t to dance to. But I like T.I. because he tells his story. As evidenced by his jail record, he owns that. I was just thinking about it the other day. He didn’t invent the sound behind Trap Music but Ghetto Mafia and T.I. were the first people I first heard “trap” from. He called his album Trap Muzik. I fuck with him. “Doin’ My Job” was a deep-ass song. When he hits it, he hits it and I don’t think there’s any difference between me and T.I. and I’m not saying on skill level. That’s up to opinion but as far as being a man, as far as I know, T.I. is a stand-up dude. When I say stand-up, not a positive role model but he’s about what he says he’s about.

DX: Just like with Felt, you decided to have one production team. How did this come about with K-Salaam and Beatnik?

Murs: We were planning to do a Murs project and I just didn’t have enough time on my schedule. I was like, “Why don’t we do a collaborative project with another rapper?” They recommended a few emcees and I was like, “Nah.” Then Fashawn [came up]. I was like, “Cool.” It just so happened that his manager called me the next day and asked a few questions. I was like, “Oh yeah, these dudes just hit me up about doing a project. I don’t know if Fash ever heard of me or if Fash is a fan of mine.”

DX: Had you heard of Murs?

Fashawn: Of course, man. Of course…Of course, the incident…

DX: Well, yeah, outside of fighting managers, I mean.

Fashawn: [Laughing] Yeah, I’ve been a fan of him and watching his movement for awhile. Soon as I got the offer, I think I wrote “This Generation.” I was amped. Plus, I’ve never done an album with another emcee, ever. I’ve never had to write one verse on a song for a project. I wasn’t used to that but I was excited for the challenge. I was like, “Who better than this dude right here?”

DX: And you got to drop some hooks.

Fashawn: And I get the opportunity to drop some hooks.

Murs: All the hooks. He’s a genius, man.

Fashawn: I got my hook muscles up on this one.

DX: You kind of dropped it on Boy Meets World but I think you flexed it more here.

Fashawn: Yeah, I think I took my shirt off on this album. [Laughs]

Murs: Flex! He took his hook shirt off!

Fashawn: [Laughing] Yeah.

DX: You talk about “This Generation” just now. On the album, you mention that the generation has problems, that we have a lot of problems we need to fix. What do you think is the greatest problem that this generation faces?

Murs; I would say hating, not just haters, but also self-hate. That’s why people don’t want to be themselves. That’s why we have grown men pretending to live a life they never lived on record, which promotes young men in our communities to pretend…Just be happy with who you are. I guess we live in a Eurocentric society still so it’s hard to not hate yourself. But there’s a lot of beautiful things about Latin culture, be it Puerto Rican or El Salvadoran or Mexican. Then, being an African American – not even having to go back to Africa – but being Black, or I like to say Negro, there’s so much rich history, from Madame C.J. Walker to Marcus Garvey to different things you could learn about yourself. It’s okay to be you. You are not just a street person. You are not lower class. You’re not a cholo. You’re not a Blood unless you really are, but you don’t have to be. You don’t have to fit into any of these pockets. Stop hating yourself.

That’s why we hate on each other, because we hate ourselves. That’s why you pretend to be someone else. The whole world knows that’s not what you did and nothing on your album is true. You’re pretending to be this because you hate yourself.

Fashawn: You don’t even know who you are. You gotta have a knowledge of self, too. That’s a problem this generation has. You gotta have a knowledge of self first. Before you can even love yourself, you gotta know who you are.  I think that’s a big issue, individuality and knowledge of self. I would really like to see this generation grab that by the neck.

DX: Also, I wanted to ask about the album cover art. I believe the back is Knock Study. The front has a menu of tacos. Can you explain the thought process behind it all?

Murs: He’s half-Mexican and I love Mexicans.

DX: And you love King Taco.

Murs: Yeah, I love King Taco. I love East L.A. and I love L.A. and I don’t fucking eat Mexican food anywhere that it’s not touching Mexico so that means Arizona, California and Texas. Someone got me to eat Mexican food in Brooklyn, but I had to have the dudes come back. “Yo, are you from Mexico? What part? Michoacán? Okay.” There was a little White girl with tattoos in the front. I was like, “Are there real Mexicans back there? Do you know what a Mexican is?” But yeah the front was just us wildin’ out and me doing the Michael Jackson pose.

There were some little kids there and we were going to the jukebox. We said, “What do you want to hear?” They said, “Michael Jackson.” So we all started dancing. That to me is the generation I’m from. That little kid was from my generation. He wasn’t even alive when Michael was making this music but he knew all these moves and the same shit I knew.

Fashawn: Yeah, that’s what I was saying – sorry to cut you off – but that’s what I was saying about, “It doesn’t matter how old you are, we all live in the same age.” That little girl connected to us. Compared to us, we’re old guys to her but it didn’t matter; we were connected.  “What you wanna hear? ‘Bad?’ I love that song.” [Smiling]

Murs: Yeah. She was a young lady. That’s a gap. She was just five years old. That’s another gap. We’re just two random Black guys and she’s just a little Mexican girl at King Taco. That was another moment but Michael…

Fashawn:…Yeah, it was a definitive moment. I’m glad we caught that and I’m glad that’s the cover, man.

As far as the back of the album, Murs invited me out to something he was doing with these kids at the Knockstudy group. I thought it was beautiful not to just let them pick our brains but to give us a glimpse inside their heads for the next generation. That was really dope. And it was a Hip Hop class. They were teaching kids how to be emcees. There were faces of every color and creed. I felt like it was another definitive moment. We’re talking to that generation and the next generation.

Murs: It wasn’t something we did for the cover. It’s something I do often and Fash does it so well so I’m gonna start bringing Fash. Me and Dee-1 do it, from New Orleans and I know [Brother] Ali does it. Also, every kid at that table was saying, “I just feel so alone.” They were all sitting together at the table. I was like, “You all feel so alone when you’re at school but technically you have a new community here. You got family here and we’re here with you.”

DX: Speaking to that, do you feel emceeing is something you can learn or do you feel it’s a little bit of both nature and nurture?

Fashawn: I think you can master anything if you practice hard enough but there are certain things people are born with that you can practice for a hundred years and still could never execute. I would have to say it takes a little bit of both, the practice and the natural knowhow.

DX: Alright so let me put you on the spot. Murs, what was Fash born with and Fash, what was Murs born with?

Murs: Fash was born a rhythm and harmony. Like I said, he can sing. He can come up with different cadences. His rhythm is superb. He’s in the pocket. He’s good. He has an ability to do harmonies and melodies that I don’t have and he has the rhythm that I don’t have.

Fashawn: Murs has a strength in his voice that’s unmatched. I don’t know too many emcees that posess that. He has strength in his voice that’s very commanding and when you hear it, it makes you sit up and pay attention. That’s something that I wish I had. Dude’s voice demands that respect. I think God gave him that. That’s for sure. He has the voice of like a great narrator or something. It’s incredible. It’s powerful.

DX: Do you guys feel like that’s accurate?

Fashawn: Yeah. Definitely. I don’t think there’s too many people out there that understand rhythm like I do, who understand R.A.P. you know, the rhythm and poetry – the poetic aspect and the rhythmic aspect of it. So yeah, that’s something I put a magnifying glass on every time I rap and that’s something I like to emphasize.

DX: What comes first for you, the rhythm or the message?

Fashawn: The rhythm. Any rap I write sounds like this first: [does scat type improvisational melody]. Then that turns into words. Rhythm comes first and the poetry second.

DX: Did you feel the same way, that you were born with power in your voice, Murs?

Murs: Nah! I don’t know. Maybe it’s always been there but it’s something I’ve been told. I’m real soft-spoken when it comes to interviews and offstage. My mom’s in the back of my mind saying, “Never half-do shit.” So I can feel like this but when I’m in front of a microphone, I know it’s business.

DX: Finally, you talked about having a Murs and Me project and then a Fash and Me project. Is this part of that or is that no longer planned?

Murs: That idea came from the great Maseo.

Fashawn: From De La [Soul].

Murs: When we make songs, it usually ends up with us just hanging out. So, Maseo showed up and Omar was there. We were just talking shit and he came up with that. At first he was sending me songs and I picked ten beats and he picked ten beats. I would come up with concepts and send them to him and he would pick concepts and send them to me. So we were like, “Those songs, you’ll keep for yours.” Somewhere through it all, through the Grizzly City Kush, it got blended. We were like, “Did you come up with that hook or did I come up with it?” Then it got to the end and they were like, “Marketing wise, it’s gonna be this.” He has Champagne & Styrofoam Cups coming. Me and 9th Wonder got an album coming. So we were like, “Let’s just take our best songs. Fuck who wrote what.” Naturally, we just became, pause, just one unit.

Fashawn: Yeah, and after listening to all the material, I couldn’t picture the music being on separate discs.  The music is so perfect. It coexists so well. I couldn’t picture this any other way.

Purchase Music by Murs

Purchase Music by Fashawn

Share This

Add New Comment

Got an account with one of these? Log in here, or just enter your info and leave a comment below.

  • * required field

Murs & Fashawn Describe Similarities With T.I., Claim Rappers Pretend Because They Hate Themselves | | HipHopDX

Murs & Fashawn Describe Similarities With T.I., Claim Rappers Pretend Because They Hate Themselves

posted Wednesday September 26 ,2012 at 10:09AM CDT | 0 comments

Murs & Fashawn Describe Similarities With T.I., Claim Rappers Pretend Because They Hate Themselves

Exclusive: Murs and Fashawn advise "this generation," talk about similarities, gang culture, emceeing, graffiti and how they met when Murs almost fought Fash's manager.

It’s a scorching afternoon in Los Angeles, California. You take a few turns by timeworn, rusty train tracks and vacant lots to find yourself looking around at empty, paint chipped buildings and art spray painted on walls. Eventually, you’re almost completely surrounded by graffiti and chain-link fences. Behind locked gates, the set is closed for Murs and Fashawn. The two are filming a video for their collaborative project, This Generation, and it’s clear to anyone who observes them, on and off camera, that they are more like brothers than just another rapping duo.  

Fash is on his skateboard, trying out some tricks between takes. Soon, Murs gets on his own board (a small banana board he says is not his “real” board but “just for fun”) and the two share a few laughs before heading back to their spots in front of cameras. They naturally build off each other, rhyming along as their latest single blasts from the speakers. They’re working. It’s boiling outside and it’s roasting inside. But they’re having fun.

That’s likely what makes this pairing work so well but this collaboration almost never happened. The two weren’t friends before this. In fact, as they shared in this interview, there was a time when they didn’t think they’d ever interact with one another peacefully. But as they got to know one another, they realized they had a lot in common. Those similarities outweighed any differences they had and as a result, the two formed a bond that became stronger with time, solidified by their work together on this album and by their lives off the stage as well.  

Murs & Fashawn Discuss “Just Begun,” Skating

HipHopDX: The album starts off with Murs talking about his childhood, saying he was “weird.” You’ve spoken with us about walking down streets with a golf club, Murs. When you hear that, Fash, how does that spark memories of your own childhood? Or does it make you see how differently you grew up?

Fashawn: Well, I came up skateboarding when it wasn’t a popular thing. Now, it’s so exploited, but I was skateboarding and niggas would call me weird. My fellow brothers would call me weird. I’d always stand out because of that…and I’m mixed. Being mixed with Spanish and Black, just hearing him go through that kind of shit makes me feel more comfortable with being a mutt, if you will [laughing], being a mixed breed and just being an individual doing what I want to do. So that provokes many memories, for sure.

DX: Murs, is that part of the reason why you speak about your upbringing so often in songs, to try to inspire others who might also be going through similar situations?

Murs: Yeah, you know…I think that being Black, you’re already a minority. You stand out wherever you go. I think we’re only 12% of the nation’s population. So sometimes a lot of Black kids don’t feel comfortable doing anything else to stand out because you already stand out. But I want them to know that it’s okay to stand out, especially now, it’s okay to stand – I’ll even say – above or to the side of the mainstream or whatever’s considered popular.

Kids made fun of me because I read and because I was smart. I still am. We’re the only community that does that. There are nerds in every community but a lot of urban youth take pride in being stupid. So I’m encouraging you to just be yourself with whatever it is. Be the smartest gangbanger, be the smartest drug dealer, but be yourself. You don’t gotta buy the same clothes if you’re gonna sell crack. Fuckin’ buy a [Toyota] Prius. Whatever it is, man, stand out. We’re not all the same. Everybody’s different. That’s my thing. Be kind to people, man. Give everybody space to be themselves. Stop pretending.

Murs Shares Advice He’s Given To Kendrick Lamar

DX: On the same song, Murs, you talk about other artists showing you what not to do. You saw many get strung out and so on. How have you taken other artists under your wing? Fash, maybe you can also speak to what Murs’ done, whether knowing or not knowing, to help you.

Fashawn: I observe Murs as more than just an emcee. I look at him like a mogul, man, as an entrepreneur in this thing. Watching him do his thing, handling the Paid Dues [Festival], watching him go from that to hoppin’ on the microphone, that’s something that I aspire to do. I feel fortunate enough to do an album with him and see firsthand what that’s like. When he said that line, well, just the whole first verse is really definitive. “I’m worth millions on a 10 speed with tennis shoes.” That whole attitude, I love that about him. I admire that. I learn from him every session. Every time we link up, I’m like a sponge, man.

Murs: Everything he just said, I’m flattered by it. Thank you [looking at Fashawn]. I try to do that but I think a lot of young rappers, especially on the West Coast, they think that I want something from them. I don’t want your fuckin’ feature, homie. I don’t want you to do a beat for me. I don’t need shit from you. I’m just trying to tell you. You want to check out my account? ‘Cause, it’s good. [I advise them to] get an account or buy some property or, “Let me talk to your mom so I can tell her the things I wish my mom would have known.” Or, my mom does my merch booth for me so maybe they want to be friends. It’s just about how to watch your money, how to handle yourself but you know, not a lot of them listen. With Fash, I opened the door to him and he’s come to my thing at [Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s “Through the Mic” concert series], he’s come to my shows in Fresno, and he actually stays the whole time. He’s very observant; he’s a very learned young man. So, I appreciate it. Shout out to Curtis King and Reverie. There’s people who call me and really listen but then there’s people who never use it because they’re so guarded with me like I want something from them. But I just want to help everybody because no one did it for me.

DX: Is that why you do it? Because it’s not like you have to do it.

Murs: Right. Yeah, ‘cause no one did it for me and I feel like I care about Hip Hop. I also care about my community. To see us not working together, it hurts my heart.

I could be bitter like, “These dudes didn’t do it for me so I ain’t gon’ do it for you.” But that’s not the way the world works. There’s room for all of us. Also, someone told me, I don’t know if it was will.i.am or somebody, but [they told me], “When other people succeed, it’s good for the whole scene.” When Dr. Dre was winning, we were all winning, The Bay, San Diego, we were all winning. It makes it easier for everybody. An atmosphere of peace and unity creates a lot of money. I want to continue to be successful so…

One of the first millionaires I met, the dude who gave me my early contract, that introduced me to a lot of money, he said, “I want to see you go on and become richer than me. If I can’t do that, then I’ve failed.” He said, “I don’t know what it is with you people,” basically he told me, he was just keeping it real. “When you see such-and-such on television, he’s the man and all his homies are just around him. Why do you guys do that?” Him and his boss used to work together at a place. His boss left and started his own company and it was shitty. But he said, “I’m gonna make millions and I want you to come with me.” They made millions together. Then they brought in their children and their children became millionaires at this company. This is what I want. So, I always tell Fash, I tell Kendrick [Lamar], I tell Domo Genesis. I tell them all, “If I could help you, I’m not gon’ make it easy but I’ma keep trying to make a billion dollars and I hope you go ahead of me. If I end up with half a billion and you end up with two billion, I’m ecstatic.” I want the next generation to do better.

DX: What’s interesting is that in a couple of years, Fash, without you even being there, will be helping others as well.

Murs: Yeah! “Each one, teach one.” I heard Tupac say that a lot growing up. But it’s an old Black liberation proverb. It’s true. For me, I’ve studied under Chang Weisberg at Rock the Bells. I’ve studied under people at the museum [Los Angeles County Museum of Art] and I’ve studied under Slug and I’ve studied under 9th Wonder. I’ve even studied under Fash, even though he’s younger than me, I’ve learned a lot. Working with him, a lot of it is us going back and forth. It’s me copying his cadences. I’m horrible with coming up with cadences and my rhythm is horrible so him leading off helped me do it. I’ve learned lots of different pockets of the beat. We used to write rhymes and I’d watch him because I’m not too big to learn from him. It’s a two-way street.

DX: You’re a lifelong learner, huh?

Murs: Oh yeah. Hell yeah. You’ve gotta be if you’re gonna be anybody in this world.

Fashawn: That’s for damn sure.

DX: You talk about having similar dreams throughout the album, particularly on “64’ Impala.” When you met, what struck you both about your similarities?

Murs: When we met, I didn’t really see a lot of similarities. I was like, “Oh, he’s down with these dudes and they run like that? I’m not with those dudes like that.”

Fashawn: I really figured out our similarities gradually throughout the whole process…

Murs: Yeah, through the album. I was like, “Oh you really are like me! You’re surrounded by these dudes who everybody thinks are this [pointing to one side] but you’re really this [pointing to the other side].” To me, that’s real similar. People are like, “Why you rap with Slug if you’re really from the hood?” I’m like, “Yo, ‘cause I’m really from the hood, B.” This dude was like, “Come on the road with me for a year.” I was like, “Yo, I could stay here and go to jail or get shot? I’m on the road.” I don’t care if people call me “backpack” or “White boy.” Call me whatever the fuck you want but call me alive and blessed. He’s kind of similar. I was like, “Oh, I thought you were on the same shit as those other dudes.” But he’s on his own other shit. But if he can rap, do what he loves and make money, he’s gonna do it.

Fashawn: We definitely have that in common. I think the reasons we rap are very similar. Who we’re talking to in our songs is very similar. Once again, this is shit I found out later in the process. When I first met Murs, he almost fought my manager. That was a weird introduction. I didn’t know if we’d ever be friends after that. [Laughs] You know? Eventually, we got to meet each other personally. That was a bad introduction but we got our relationship started and yeah, man, we’re like connected at the head.

Murs: Yeah. I started talking to him and his name is Santiago. I’m like, “How the fuck did that happen?” He’s like, “I’m half-Mexican.” I’m like, “Fuck outta here.” I always wanted to be Mexican.

Fashawn: And I always wanted to be from L.A. so…

Murs: Yeah, it’s little shit like that. Like, he always has his skateboard around. So I’m like, “Yo, I should bring mine.” It’s just fun to skate. Skating is a big similarity, along with growing up around Crips and Bloods and all that other stuff.

Fashawn: We both wrote graffiti too. He got his Rap name from graffiti. My Rap name has nothing to do with my graffiti name but I used to write too. His graffiti’s probably better than mine but we’re cut from the same cloth, man.

DX: What did you write? You don’t have to say it if…

Fashawn: Oh, I wrote Breef One or Breefs, Breefers and a bunch of other variations.

DX: Fash, you talked about speaking to the same people. Who do you speak to?

Fashawn: I would like to think that we speak to people who are trying to find themselves, people who are on that infinite journey. Not the people who live like, “I might die tomorrow, I’ma live my life like fuck it.” I think we’re talking to people who have forever in mind, people who think about life after death, people who care about the community and niggas who still do chivalrous things, niggas who still open the door for their lady, brothers like that, people like that, men and women. I think we talk to those people, people who just want to be free from any form of oppression. Those are the people we’re talking to. Those are the people we’re speaking for.

Murs: I think we speak to good people and maybe even good people that come from bad circumstances. You don’t have to be your circumstances. People that despite everything that’s happened to them … like [Fashawn’s] story is ill as fuck, way iller than mine but he’s still a good dad. After all that, he’s a good dude, a standup dude. So we speak to good people, standup human beings.

Murs & Fasahwn Explain Touring With Tech N9ne & Similarities With T.I.

DX: That leads me to “Peace Treaty.”

Fashawn: Ooh!

DX: It has a feel good vibe. It doesn’t sound like a preachy song. It’s just like a song to roll down the street to.

Fashawn: For sure. For sure.

DX: But it’s deeper than that. Can you speak to what that message says to the communities you want to reach or what the song means to you personally?

Fashawn: For me, it’s a song that represents a colorless pride for eachother. Instead of, “I’m from the blue gang” or “I’m from this red gang.” It’s colorless. We’re all the same thing, whether you like it or not. Let’s celebrate life, man. Like the song says, “Nobody’s fightin’ / Everybody’s jumpin’ in even if they don’t like ‘em.” That’s a beautiful thing. It’s violent but at the same time, it’s showing unity. It’s showing the positive side of the areas we come from.

Murs: “Peace Treaty” was a song that I heard the beat for and I came up with it. [K-Salaam & Beatnick] changed the beat since then. I think Joell Ortiz has the original beat. They changed it.

For me, it can be corny to some people but I literally still go to birthday parties at Kenneth Hahn Park. I know, “Them niggas havin’ a birthday party over there? They’re from the other side. We’re all over here but everything’s cool.” I’m like, “Why can’t we just do this all the time?” I get into it with a lot of my homies because they’ll be like, “Them niggas from that, cuz, they’re all busters.” I’m like, “No! There’s busters over there just like we got such-and-such’s cousin who’s down with us. That nigga’s a punk but if we all go out and he get in a fight, then we all gotta jump in. Them niggas is the same way. There’s a buster from their hood too but there’s some real ass niggas and killers in their hood too.

I realized that while working with a lot of different Rap groups through Paid Dues, touring and my history. I went on tour with Tech N9ne and business was always good because we come from a gang culture. We understand that what you say is what you mean and what you mean is what you say. Thug dudes from different regions don’t understand our code. I think a lot of West Coast dudes beef and think like, “This gang’s wack” or “Them niggas is this.” They may be your enemies but don’t ever underestimate your enemies. We all have a certain code. The code on the West Coast is trippy because there’s no kings. There’s definitely no kings. Anybody can get it at any time.

When you have a down dude like Fash – he comes from the same culture so when we go somewhere, he’s not gonna be like, “You got beef with them?” and then leave hanging niggas out to dry. But I’ve been with Rap dudes that have been like that. And this even speaks to the Black and Brown discord that there is. It also speaks to, in the Latin community, I’m not really familiar with it but it trips me out, like some of my homies like, “Yo, love the [Oakland] Raiders.” But if they go to Raiders games, yo, it’s a fuckin’ problem. There’s the 13s, the 14s. I know in Fresno, it’s the line so he’s seen all of that [looking at Fashawn]. Then there’s the Blue Mexicans, the Red Mexicans.

Everyone can do better. If we all came together…Gang culture is some serious familial…the positives of it are good. If we pass that on to our children instead of colors and separation, it’d be great for humanity.

DX: But when you were a kid, you didn’t know that.

Murs: No, no. I don’t know how authentic to be but I just have to be, I’m at an age now. I grew up saying “cuzz.” I was never in a gang but that’s just how everybody talked. Even now, it’ll still come out. I remember being on tour with Tech N9ne and they’re all for-real Bloods. I was kickin’ it, smokin’ a cigarette with one of the homies on tour and they were like, “It’s time.” I was like, “Ah, shit cuzz. Let’s go!” He [stopped]. I was like, “Aw, man.  I’m sorry.” He was like, “It’s all good.”

[Kutt] Calhoun is a real dude, man, a real stand-up dude. I also know that I can bring my brother and all of the homies from my neighborhood. I don’t bring them everywhere because they have one mind-frame. I know that if someone says something, it could be really a problem. But if I know a camp of real dudes, whether they’re Bloods or Crips, I can bring my dudes. My people respect me. Their people respect them. But coming out the box, I was like, “Yo.”

I guess going to my first funeral really helped. If we could cut all that other shit, that’s what really helped, now that I’m thinking straight.

DX: You want me to delete all of the other stuff?

Murs: You could, if you want. It’s just longwinded but this is a more…I just thought like…Yo, motherfuckers who killed some of my friends aren’t punk-ass-motherfuckers just like my friend who died wasn’t a punk-ass-motherfucker. We could go on trying to prove to each other …

Fashawn: That could go on forever.

Murs: But that feeling I had that day? Never. I put dirt on that man’s body, yo. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, especially to a kid who’s angry because he doesn’t have his father just like I’m angry. We’re all angry for the same reasons. Me killing you doesn’t prove I’m realer than you. It just means I pulled the trigger first. My dude that died was a real dude. What now? He dead so he a buster? That changed my whole philosophy. In your head, when you’re younger, you think only the busters die or something like that but as you get older, you lose some real dudes. Anybody can get the drop on anybody and some coward niggas could kill a real nigga. When I seen that?

You killed a real mothafucker. Just because you killed him doesn’t make you not a punk because I could beat the shit out of you right now. Like I said, there’s soft ass dudes on both sides and a lot of times it’ll be the soft ass dudes who start shit and the real dudes have to come together.

Ugh. Yeah, man. Also, when you’re really active – I wasn’t really but I was around it, close to it – a lot of real dudes will come out the pen and be like, “Yo…”

Fashawn: “Squash that shit.”

Murs: “That shit’s stupid.” Because you could be locked up with a dude from another hood and you have to get along. Especially in the Black community, unfortunately, you have to all unite and fight this side of people. It’s just…It’s just really stupid. All I have to say to people, the more you travel, the more you realize gang-bangin’ is this big. They don’t have that shit in New York. Mothafuckas be going out, having fun on the train, getting at bitches, having a picnic and in North Carolina, I was like, “Yo!”

Fashawn: In Miami, it’s all good.

Murs: Yeah, mothafuckas is partying. We over here fuckin’ it up for ourselves.

Fashawn: [Reciting the lyrics to the song] “9-deuce truce, it’s about time”

Murs & Fashawn Together: “that we brought it back.”

Murs & Fashawn On “The Other Side,” Racial Divisions In Rap

DX: Yeah, that’s the spirit of the song. Now, on “The Other Side,” you speak on unjust labels that have been placed on you, for whatever reason. Can you expand on that by sharing what you feel people have misunderstood about your music or you as a person individually?

Fashawn: I think people think that me and Murs are just conscious backpack emcees or just conscious artists. I don’t think they understand why we do this here. For me, when I make music, it’s a spiritual process I go through. When I look at a blank sheet, I feel like a vessel. I feel like whatever’s coming through me, it’s the truth man and it’s what needs to be said, what needs to be heard. I think what’s really misunderstood about myself is that I’m just having fun with this, dancing around, smoking weed and spitting blasphemous shit. It’s not. I’m very aware of what I’m doing. I’m very conscious of it. But I think that’s what’s misunderstood about me, that I only want to rap about things that are positive and consciousness. That’s not the case, man. I rap about everything.

Murs: I don’t think the backpack label is unjust. It’s justified.

Fashawn: I love my Jansport. [Smiles]

Murs: But I don’t like how people separate it by color. Like, “Oh, that’s for White boys.” I want kids in the hood to be able to think that they could be me too. It’s okay to be a backpack rapper. Especially now in the game, I know I’ve been through way more hood shit than a lot of these mothafuckers that are talking it. I don’t talk it but if he’s a trap rapper, then call me a trap rapper too. Fuck it. If you listen to “Walk Like a Man,” and if you listen to “H.U.S.T.L.E.R.” – I’m talking about ghetto shit.

The difference between my raps and T.I.’s raps, my beats aren’t to dance to. But I like T.I. because he tells his story. As evidenced by his jail record, he owns that. I was just thinking about it the other day. He didn’t invent the sound behind Trap Music but Ghetto Mafia and T.I. were the first people I first heard “trap” from. He called his album Trap Muzik. I fuck with him. “Doin’ My Job” was a deep-ass song. When he hits it, he hits it and I don’t think there’s any difference between me and T.I. and I’m not saying on skill level. That’s up to opinion but as far as being a man, as far as I know, T.I. is a stand-up dude. When I say stand-up, not a positive role model but he’s about what he says he’s about.

DX: Just like with Felt, you decided to have one production team. How did this come about with K-Salaam and Beatnik?

Murs: We were planning to do a Murs project and I just didn’t have enough time on my schedule. I was like, “Why don’t we do a collaborative project with another rapper?” They recommended a few emcees and I was like, “Nah.” Then Fashawn [came up]. I was like, “Cool.” It just so happened that his manager called me the next day and asked a few questions. I was like, “Oh yeah, these dudes just hit me up about doing a project. I don’t know if Fash ever heard of me or if Fash is a fan of mine.”

DX: Had you heard of Murs?

Fashawn: Of course, man. Of course…Of course, the incident…

DX: Well, yeah, outside of fighting managers, I mean.

Fashawn: [Laughing] Yeah, I’ve been a fan of him and watching his movement for awhile. Soon as I got the offer, I think I wrote “This Generation.” I was amped. Plus, I’ve never done an album with another emcee, ever. I’ve never had to write one verse on a song for a project. I wasn’t used to that but I was excited for the challenge. I was like, “Who better than this dude right here?”

DX: And you got to drop some hooks.

Fashawn: And I get the opportunity to drop some hooks.

Murs: All the hooks. He’s a genius, man.

Fashawn: I got my hook muscles up on this one.

DX: You kind of dropped it on Boy Meets World but I think you flexed it more here.

Fashawn: Yeah, I think I took my shirt off on this album. [Laughs]

Murs: Flex! He took his hook shirt off!

Fashawn: [Laughing] Yeah.

DX: You talk about “This Generation” just now. On the album, you mention that the generation has problems, that we have a lot of problems we need to fix. What do you think is the greatest problem that this generation faces?

Murs; I would say hating, not just haters, but also self-hate. That’s why people don’t want to be themselves. That’s why we have grown men pretending to live a life they never lived on record, which promotes young men in our communities to pretend…Just be happy with who you are. I guess we live in a Eurocentric society still so it’s hard to not hate yourself. But there’s a lot of beautiful things about Latin culture, be it Puerto Rican or El Salvadoran or Mexican. Then, being an African American – not even having to go back to Africa – but being Black, or I like to say Negro, there’s so much rich history, from Madame C.J. Walker to Marcus Garvey to different things you could learn about yourself. It’s okay to be you. You are not just a street person. You are not lower class. You’re not a cholo. You’re not a Blood unless you really are, but you don’t have to be. You don’t have to fit into any of these pockets. Stop hating yourself.

That’s why we hate on each other, because we hate ourselves. That’s why you pretend to be someone else. The whole world knows that’s not what you did and nothing on your album is true. You’re pretending to be this because you hate yourself.

Fashawn: You don’t even know who you are. You gotta have a knowledge of self, too. That’s a problem this generation has. You gotta have a knowledge of self first. Before you can even love yourself, you gotta know who you are.  I think that’s a big issue, individuality and knowledge of self. I would really like to see this generation grab that by the neck.

DX: Also, I wanted to ask about the album cover art. I believe the back is Knock Study. The front has a menu of tacos. Can you explain the thought process behind it all?

Murs: He’s half-Mexican and I love Mexicans.

DX: And you love King Taco.

Murs: Yeah, I love King Taco. I love East L.A. and I love L.A. and I don’t fucking eat Mexican food anywhere that it’s not touching Mexico so that means Arizona, California and Texas. Someone got me to eat Mexican food in Brooklyn, but I had to have the dudes come back. “Yo, are you from Mexico? What part? Michoacán? Okay.” There was a little White girl with tattoos in the front. I was like, “Are there real Mexicans back there? Do you know what a Mexican is?” But yeah the front was just us wildin’ out and me doing the Michael Jackson pose.

There were some little kids there and we were going to the jukebox. We said, “What do you want to hear?” They said, “Michael Jackson.” So we all started dancing. That to me is the generation I’m from. That little kid was from my generation. He wasn’t even alive when Michael was making this music but he knew all these moves and the same shit I knew.

Fashawn: Yeah, that’s what I was saying – sorry to cut you off – but that’s what I was saying about, “It doesn’t matter how old you are, we all live in the same age.” That little girl connected to us. Compared to us, we’re old guys to her but it didn’t matter; we were connected.  “What you wanna hear? ‘Bad?’ I love that song.” [Smiling]

Murs: Yeah. She was a young lady. That’s a gap. She was just five years old. That’s another gap. We’re just two random Black guys and she’s just a little Mexican girl at King Taco. That was another moment but Michael…

Fashawn:…Yeah, it was a definitive moment. I’m glad we caught that and I’m glad that’s the cover, man.

As far as the back of the album, Murs invited me out to something he was doing with these kids at the Knockstudy group. I thought it was beautiful not to just let them pick our brains but to give us a glimpse inside their heads for the next generation. That was really dope. And it was a Hip Hop class. They were teaching kids how to be emcees. There were faces of every color and creed. I felt like it was another definitive moment. We’re talking to that generation and the next generation.

Murs: It wasn’t something we did for the cover. It’s something I do often and Fash does it so well so I’m gonna start bringing Fash. Me and Dee-1 do it, from New Orleans and I know [Brother] Ali does it. Also, every kid at that table was saying, “I just feel so alone.” They were all sitting together at the table. I was like, “You all feel so alone when you’re at school but technically you have a new community here. You got family here and we’re here with you.”

DX: Speaking to that, do you feel emceeing is something you can learn or do you feel it’s a little bit of both nature and nurture?

Fashawn: I think you can master anything if you practice hard enough but there are certain things people are born with that you can practice for a hundred years and still could never execute. I would have to say it takes a little bit of both, the practice and the natural knowhow.

DX: Alright so let me put you on the spot. Murs, what was Fash born with and Fash, what was Murs born with?

Murs: Fash was born a rhythm and harmony. Like I said, he can sing. He can come up with different cadences. His rhythm is superb. He’s in the pocket. He’s good. He has an ability to do harmonies and melodies that I don’t have and he has the rhythm that I don’t have.

Fashawn: Murs has a strength in his voice that’s unmatched. I don’t know too many emcees that posess that. He has strength in his voice that’s very commanding and when you hear it, it makes you sit up and pay attention. That’s something that I wish I had. Dude’s voice demands that respect. I think God gave him that. That’s for sure. He has the voice of like a great narrator or something. It’s incredible. It’s powerful.

DX: Do you guys feel like that’s accurate?

Fashawn: Yeah. Definitely. I don’t think there’s too many people out there that understand rhythm like I do, who understand R.A.P. you know, the rhythm and poetry – the poetic aspect and the rhythmic aspect of it. So yeah, that’s something I put a magnifying glass on every time I rap and that’s something I like to emphasize.

DX: What comes first for you, the rhythm or the message?

Fashawn: The rhythm. Any rap I write sounds like this first: [does scat type improvisational melody]. Then that turns into words. Rhythm comes first and the poetry second.

DX: Did you feel the same way, that you were born with power in your voice, Murs?

Murs: Nah! I don’t know. Maybe it’s always been there but it’s something I’ve been told. I’m real soft-spoken when it comes to interviews and offstage. My mom’s in the back of my mind saying, “Never half-do shit.” So I can feel like this but when I’m in front of a microphone, I know it’s business.

DX: Finally, you talked about having a Murs and Me project and then a Fash and Me project. Is this part of that or is that no longer planned?

Murs: That idea came from the great Maseo.

Fashawn: From De La [Soul].

Murs: When we make songs, it usually ends up with us just hanging out. So, Maseo showed up and Omar was there. We were just talking shit and he came up with that. At first he was sending me songs and I picked ten beats and he picked ten beats. I would come up with concepts and send them to him and he would pick concepts and send them to me. So we were like, “Those songs, you’ll keep for yours.” Somewhere through it all, through the Grizzly City Kush, it got blended. We were like, “Did you come up with that hook or did I come up with it?” Then it got to the end and they were like, “Marketing wise, it’s gonna be this.” He has Champagne & Styrofoam Cups coming. Me and 9th Wonder got an album coming. So we were like, “Let’s just take our best songs. Fuck who wrote what.” Naturally, we just became, pause, just one unit.

Fashawn: Yeah, and after listening to all the material, I couldn’t picture the music being on separate discs.  The music is so perfect. It coexists so well. I couldn’t picture this any other way.

Purchase Music by Murs

Purchase Music by Fashawn

Share This

Add New Comment

Got an account with one of these? Log in here, or just enter your info and leave a comment below.

  • * required field