Murs 3:16 The 9th Edition, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary today (March 23), is an important album in Murs' career, one in which he described his perspective of Los Angeles, California in 2004.
"When I did that record, there was nobody really saying the shit that I was saying about L.A.," Murs says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. "It wasn't that kinda rap coming out of L.A. It was boom-bap shit, but I didn't really have a New York flow. I was talking about real L.A. shit and I think that that's popular right now...I won't say it was ahead of its time, but I feel like I didn't have any contemporaries at the time when I was doing 3:16."
Murs credits 3:16 as the album where he found his voice, something he struggled with in 2003, when he released The End Of The Beginning.
"With The End Of The Beginning, I was all over the place, but the song people liked the most was 'The Night Before' where I was talking about being shot at," Murs says. "So, I was like, 'Shit. I'll just keep doing that type of shit.' My life was consumed by that at that point anyway. I had a lot of stories to tell. I had a lot to say."
Murs Details "Walk Like A Man" Off 3:16 The 9th Edition
Those stories and statements became an integral element for Murs 3:16 The 9th Edition, a critically acclaimed project produced by 9th Wonder. One of the album's most acclaimed cuts is "Walk Like a Man," a somber song about the death of his friend and the rage of revenge.
"It was a year to this day that my best friend died," Murs raps on the selection. "For weeks, I sat alone in my room and cried / And I tried to pretend everything was fine / But my soul couldn't rest until vengeance was mine."
"'Walk Like A Man' was a song I made about some shit we had been through," Murs says. "It was kinda like a bit of a fabricated ending, but a real ending, but then, I lost a really good friend of mine that year. It's been 10 years since then. This year, his daughter's graduating. That's beautiful. She's a beautiful young lady."
Murs Details "And This Is For..." & Its Impact On His Fanbase
Another one of the album's most-discussed tracks is "And This Is For...," a cut where Murs rhymes about White rappers and White audiences, among other topics.
"I feel I should have the scans White rappers have," Murs raps on the track. "It's sad, but that's the way it is / What's the reason that my album doesn't sell like his? / And don't front like you don't why the hell that is / It's because he's White, you can relate to his face / Through the years, you've been taught that Black is unsafe / Plus it's only natural for your own to be embraced / Conscious or subconscious, you can't say that ain't the case."
Murs says the song came from spending time opening for Atmosphere. He had been Slug's hype man and friend. The two worked on an album together, Felt: A Tribute To Christina Ricci, in 2002. During shows with Atmosphere, Murs says he would see sold-out crowds consistently. However, when he performed without Slug, he found ticket sales would drop.
"A promoter came to me and said, 'Atmosphere tickets went on sale today and they sold more tickets than you sold tonight their first day of pre-sale.'" Murs says. "I said, 'Ain't that a bitch?' [That many] kids listen to me with Felt, but if I don't come with Atmosphere, this is my turnout? And on the West Coast?
"There was really no excuse for [that] except for race," Murs adds.
Nevertheless, Murs says he was never upset about the success Slug earned as a solo artist or as a member of Atmosphere.
"That's my friend," Murs says. "I'm not mad at his success. I wasn't mad. I had a friend that died that year, a close friend, so God knows where I would have been without Slug. He was very instrumental in saving my life and so were all of those fans that supported. So I'm not mad at them, but I had to talk about it."
However, some didn't take well to Murs' message on the song.
"It was actually taken the wrong way," Murs says. "I was really hurt by that. A lot of fans thought I was being racist. My whole point was that I love [all fans]...We should just watch ourselves. I'm thankful that I have any fans, White or Black...And after that, in my city, and I don't think it's because of 'And This Is For...,' but because 3:16 was so L.A.-based, I developed a lot of Latino fans. My Latino fanbase started to grow...I always identified with Latino culture because to me, that's L.A. culture, if we're gonna be honest, so that's a definite bonus to me. I felt like my music was finally getting to who it was supposed to get to anyway, Black, White, or otherwise...When I started being myself, I think my fanbase started to grow and I think it was because of 'And This Is For...' and the honesty of that song."
Murs Explains How Hip Hop Has Changed Since 2004
Murs' fanbase has continued to grow since 2004 and Murs says Hip Hop has also changed in the last 10 years.
"I think so much has changed," Murs says. "I just got [ScHoolboy] Q's album [Oxymoron]. He's way more abstract than any of the indie kids I know and he [had] the #1 album in America. That's changed. With Kendrick [Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city] and with Macklemore [& Ryan Lewis' The Heist], I feel like if they would have put out those albums 10 years ago, they would have been called what we were called, backpackers or conscious or whatever. Now, it's just good music. So, I think a lot has changed."
HipHopDX's Review Of Murs 3:16 The 9th Edition Revisited
In 2004, Murs' Murs 3:16 The 9th Edition earned a 4.5 out of 5 in its HipHopDX review.
"From the intro, the method of Murs is best captured when he says 'This is more than music / By buying this disk, you have bought into a movement / Not a revolutionary / Nothing but the truth I carry / Change if you wanna change, that karma is for you to carry / All I'm tryin' to do is just lighten your load,'" HipHopDX said in its review in 2004. "Later on in 3:16, he further states his cause over a classic 9th beat. 'They get up on TV steady clownin' for fame / Disrespecting ancestors that was bound in them chains / But I'm around in the game, so things bound to change / I'm tryin' to walk that thin line between intelligence and ignorance / Have a little fun while making music of significance.' Indeed he does make some music of significance. 'This Is For...' is a butter-smooth 9th offering in which Murs tackles plenty of issues in Hip Hop. To little surprise, his addressing of the White audience has stirred up the most shit, but only those guilty of his labels will be offended."
Murs and 9th Wonder teamed up for several collaborative albums since 2004. The duo dropped Murray's Revenge in 2006, Sweet Lord in 2008, Fornever in 2010 and The Final Adventure in 2012. Their 2012 effort, The Final Adventure, is reportedly the duo's last album together. On The Final Adventure, Murs makes it known that the two plan to close the curtain on their collaborative album series. “That’s all, folks. That’s all that she wrote,” Murs raps as the album closes. “It’s over and it’s finished. We gon’ end it on a good note.”
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