Fans were shocked earlier this year when news broke that budding California duo U-N-I decided to call it quits. But the break-up didn’t stop member Thurz; the Inglewood emcee struck it big on the dolo with his politically charged and critically acclaimed debut L.A. Riot.
Now, in a recent interview with the Smoking Section, Thurz explained why he and former U-N-I partner Y-O decided to lay the group to rest. He said that the group’s relationship soured over their different artistic directives and that he felt he was being musically hampered as a result. Still, Thurz says that rocking with Y-O was a fruitful and wholly worthwhile experience.
“There were arguments [between us] but it never got physical. It wasn’t necessary to ever get to that point,” he said. “It was just like on some grown man shit like, ‘You’re not really trying to do this and your lifestyle is consuming your life.’ I’m trying to make a statement in music and be the best out here. Cats are putting out music and I know we’re better than them and you’re really not trying to step up to the plate and I had to let the word know. A little while after that, we were meeting up to discuss where U-N-I was going and I had to pretty much be real like ‘Your raps…you’re not holding up your end on the lyrical side. I know you want to be this unique artist and all that but to succeed as this group, you have to step it up lyrically and ditch the cookie-cutter shit.’ So after that, we just decided to break right there. The respect wasn’t there friendship-wise and definitely not artistically.”
He added, “It was a long time coming honestly. People were constantly asking me the same questions ‘What’s up with U-N-I? When does Kings Come Marching come out? Where’s the new music?’ So I had to write the record and put it out. I just gave people enough to where they would understand…I wouldn’t even be at this point artistically or mentally if it wasn’t for that experience. It help me build up by networks and my net worth and I learned how to make better decisions as an independent now. I’m grateful for the experience.”
Thurz also spoke on his recent debut project and how he came up with the concept for the record. He said that the album came out of the break-up with Y-O, with the 1992 Los Angeles riots serving as a metaphor for his new solo career. Ultimately, however, he said the LP took a different form when he began to reflect on the ’92 riots and the incident of police brutality against Rodney King that sparked them.
“The first song I recorded was ‘Los Angeles,’ where I had this idea to have fans call in and give their take on what the city was to them,” he explained. “Then I sent it to a few DJs just to get responses and they all loved it. They thought it as a dope Hip-Hop record and loved the flow, the beat and the concept. Tomas was doing research on the riots and I lived through it. I wasn’t involved in looting or anything but I remember seeing buildings that were burned down and police in riot gear and mobs of Black folks.”
“So then it hit me like bam! L.A. Riot. That would be a dope album title because it kind of represents what I have to do at this moment. And that’s to burn down this old image to really let the world know who I am as a solo artist. After I stuck with the name, we were like, ‘We can’t go further without paying homage to the Rodney King, the beating and trial that lead to the whole incident.’ So that’s where that song came from. Tracks started coming in left and right and it was a beautiful experience and it just created itself from scratch.”