Los Angeles, CA – Longtime MC Thurz recently stepped back into the spotlight with his Morris Day and Prince-inspired single “777-9311.” The track put an end to a hiatus in his solo career, which took a backseat to his popular event series Party In My Living Room and his work for Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment.
Now that Thurz is releasing new music again, HipHopDX caught up with the Los Angeles-based rhymer to get the details on his return. Thurz discussed how he connected with Dr. Dre, his work on Anderson .Paak’s Oxnard album, his collaborations with Grammy-winning producer Jake One and much more in the extensive conversation.
HipHopDX: What made you go on a musical hiatus?
Thurz: I would say I felt like I needed a … I just wanted more purpose behind my music. I wanted to have a rollout. I wanted to have content that I could just consistently roll out, have music that I fully believed in — not that I didn’t believe in anything prior. I dropped music every now and then, but it’s hard to consistently put out something to take my brand or my artistry to the next level and to be received as an artist that’s on that next level. So, I wanted to just take my time and cook up something that I could consistently put out, promote and take across the world.
DX: While you stepped away from releasing music, was this about the same time that you launched the Party In My Living Room series?
DX: Can you tell me about the event’s origins and what went into its creation? What were your goals for it?
Thurz: Man, that’s crazy you asked that. So Party In My Living Room, I actually launched it out of necessity because I was trying to promote my Designer EP, a project that I did in collaboration with Red Bull Sound Select. There were a few issues getting that project out because of the other party that was working with me on the production. They were just trying to get more money out of the situation, and it just held up the release and held up a lot of investments that could have gone into videos and marketing. It had me at a point where I released this project and I didn’t have any marketing push behind it.
I’ve been doing events in L.A. for a long time — since college. So, I had a rapport for doing that in L.A. and with this release of this project, I figured I might try to throw a house party and use the production value knowledge that I acquired from producing Sound Select events. I was also doing some contract work with Red Bull in the culture department, so I saw how they would put a lot of care into the quality and to have different people running different aspects of the show to make sure everything was running right. [I] took all that knowledge and said, “Yo, let me apply this to a house party and do something I haven’t seen done.”
The first one that I threw was in February 2015, two months after releasing my project. And I brought my band that helped me produce the project. We set up in the living room. I brought my sound guy. I brought all this different equipment, and we literally set up a concert in the living room. I put the word out and over 500 people showed up, so that kinda gave me an idea that this was something that people wanted. This was the niche that was not being cared for, and I ended up doing four house parties that first year. The need for marketing this project inspired the birth of another concept or an idea that helped me get in touch with people on the grassroots level at a house party and provide an experience for my music.
DX: How do you plan for each event? What kind of artists do you try to book for it?
Thurz: I always want to have a touch of local to each party. Whether it be live art, paintings, whether I’m just displaying different paintings around the house, doing activations or printing art on a shirt … Performance wise, I try to have DJs from the city wherever we’re at. I’d rather have artists from the city; maybe three artists that are performing in total. And really try to just really push the party atmosphere and give this short performance time for artists to engage the audience but still keep the party going.
Those are the main elements, man. Just really having a dope party atmosphere, having a place for people to socialize, grab a drink. Wherever the city’s at, we’re going to make sure it feels like we’re in that city. Food vendors, the artists and painters all have to be local. And then I always try to add a touch of L.A. since this is always a collaboration and I’m an L.A. guy. I take L.A. with me and am collaborating with whatever city we’re going to and just making it a dope melting pot of culture.
DX: Now, you recently contributed to “Mansa Musa” on Anderson Paak’s Oxnard album. How did you first link up with Aftermath and start working with Dr. Dre?
Thurz: Shout out to Tyheim Cannon and J.LBS, man. I was finishing up a project at Red Bull in their studio facility. J.LBS is one of my main producers. THX was working hard on that project too and helping me mix everything down. J.LBS was providing files for my last mix session for us to finish this project, and he’s signed to Aftermath. So, he leaves the studio after we’re done, goes up to Record One [studios]. He’s chopping it up Ty, letting him know what I’ve been working on. And this is like August of 2017. After I leave the studio, J.LBS calls me up and he’s like, “Yo, man. I was just chopping it up with Ty and he asked you to come up here to Record One.”
I’m at the house just trying to get the kids situated. My son is chilling, playing. I’m like, “Yo. I’ll definitely come up there. I definitely want to chop it up, see what’s happening.” I get ready to leave, and my son is playing with Legos. He ended up choking on a freaking Lego. I almost didn’t make it to the studio. I had to make sure he was good, got the Lego out of his throat. It was a scary situation. We called 911, had the damn ambulance guys come up to the house, and my girl was kinda frantic. But we worked everything out. She took him to the hospital, and she was like, “Yo, man. Go to that session. Go meet up with those guys and see what’s happening. It might be a good opportunity for you.”
So, I almost didn’t make it to the studio to go meet everybody. But I get up there. Ty gives me a tour of Record One. I’m in Studio A after the tour just chopping it up with J.LBS and Ty comes back in. He’s like “Yo, have you met Dre?” I was like, “Nah I haven’t met him yet, but it would be an honor.” He’s like, “He’s in the lounge. He’d love to meet you.”
I go to the lounge and I sit down with him. He’s aware of who I was; it was kinda crazy. He’s like, “I’ve heard a lot about you”, and I’m like “Damn, that’s dope!” I give him the rest of my story, and he starts telling me about his process and where his mind is at right now, how he wants to create. He’s just looking for a group of really good individuals to build up some ideas with.
We chopped it up for an hour and then Mell plays like two beats. They were both dope. But the second one was called “Sangria,” and Dre asked me what I thought about it. I was like, “This is dope. We can make some real dope shit off of this.” He’s like, “You trying to work?” I was like, “Hell yeah!” So we go to Studio A and we make our first song.
DX: That’s awesome. Can you take us into that world? What’s it like creating with Dre as opposed to other producers that you’ve worked with before?
Thurz: Everybody is an instrument and he’s the conductor. He knows how to utilize everybody to get their dopest … to get a great reaction out of everybody that can be utilized for a song. I haven’t seen anybody use the room like Dre. He’s a master at it. That’s the best way I can really describe it. Everybody’s an instrument in the studio, whether you’re writing or you’re vocally doing something or you’re playing an instrument. He hears certain things and everybody’s kinda used as an instrument to execute the idea. And when it comes together, it’s pretty great. It’s a dope experience. It’s dope to witness that and it’s amazing to see.
DX: Now I’m not sure how much you can talk about it, but what is your situation with Aftermath? Are you under any type of contract or deal as a songwriter?
Thurz: My deal? Dre’s my big bro, man. That’s how I have to really put it. That’s all I can really say about it. I’m an independent artist but that’s the big bro and he’s guiding and supporting. He supports my artistry and believes in what I’m doing, so it’s a blessing. And that’s pretty much what it is.
DX: Oxnard was obviously a huge release for Paak since it’s his Aftermath debut. What was that creative process like?
Thurz: I didn’t even know I was going to make it onto Anderson’s album, man! [laughs] I found out like a week before the release that he was going to use that song because we didn’t put that together for Anderson. But I’m glad he took a liking to it and he rocked with it.
Me and Blakk [Soul] and Dre were in the studio one day making the “Mansa Musa” record. We were just having run really, just putting my ideas down. And there’s a lot of people in the studio. This was months before Oxnard was supposed to be released. Anderson wanted to add a few more songs to Oxnard. “Mansa Musa” was the one he picked. He killed it, man. He did his thing on there and the rest is history.
DX: To get back to your music, you recently put out the “777-9311” single as an homage to Morris Day and Prince. What made that song the right choice for your reintroduction?
Thurz: It just happened organically. I did that song a while ago. It randomly came up, and I was like damn, this actually still sounds dope. I just wanted to recut my vocal to it, so I recut the vocal and put it out. I didn’t really have a plan of re-entry. I just wanted to really jump into putting the new music out. Started writing a lot of treatments and ideas for visuals, and I kinda started putting everything together and everything just kinda aligned itself.
“777” was the first record that made sense to put out. It was the first one that was really ready, so it came out. I had a video to it, I had a whole little art gallery campaign on my Instagram. So, everything just aligned itself. It was a natural thing, an organic thing. People took a liking to it, and it’s doing pretty cool on Spotify and all the DSPs.
I got the Jake One record out now, and I got the video ready for that, so I’m definitely kinda excited to showcase the new work that I’ve been doing. I want to see how people take to it. I am just proud of everything I’ve been doing. I am glad “777” was the launching pad even though I didn’t plan it like that; it just worked out like that.
DX: You mentioned your new record with Jake One. Did y’all cook up a lot of stuff together or is that the only one you were able to knock out?
Thurz: Yeah, we’ve cooked up a lot. We’ve got like seven records if I’m not mistaken. So, everything kinda just comes together like it’s supposed to. I love the record that I did with Jake and I’m excited to get that “Long Live” out. It just feels good, from the sample and how the drums are put together to the subject matter of the song. Jake blessed it, so I’m glad people are able to get that and hear it and press play on it. I have a lot of good music I want people to hear. Shout out to Jake One for providing that soundtrack for me to do my thing.
DX: Do you have any timetable for your next full-length project or EP?
Thurz: I definitely want to put out an album, but every time I say that it never happens. So, I’ma just let everything happen how it’s supposed to. I’ma just let the stars align, man. But I would love to have an album out. It’s been a minute since I’ve put out a full project, so I want to have one for people to enjoy. And I want to do more shows, more house parties. I want to perform at Coachella next year. I only do that if I put music out.
DX: Absolutely. I did want to ask you about one of your past releases. I’ve always loved your L.A. Riot album and felt it was a really important piece of work. All these years later, what reflections do you have on that album? What did it mean to you as an artist?
Thurz: Man, that’s a really important album for me. I feel like it was a dope artistic representation of my mindset and shows how the history of L.A. inspires music. I think it gave me a template to really pull from for a lot of different ideas, musically and visually. Everything artistically comes from a real place for me. I want to do my job to represent L.A. in the best light and to represent my culture and my family, my people from Belize.
I want to make sure my art is representing the real places that shape me as a human, so L.A. Riot was definitely a pivotal point in my artistry and helped me to launch my mindset of how I want to be represented and looked at over time. Definitely a good starting spot for me and everything that went into it, from the production to the art galleries and music videos and my ideas. You know, really special. It was a very good birthplace for Thurz.
DX: To wrap up, I wanted to get your perspective on the aftermath of Nipsey Hussle’s death. As someone heavily ingrained in the L.A. scene, do you feel like there’s a change in the city? Has there been some type of shift that you’ve noticed as everyone deals with this tragedy?
Thurz: I haven’t seen anything like this, man. Obviously, people want to compare him to Pac, but Nipsey was really from L.A. And when you happen to have a loss like that from somebody who’s doing positive in his neighborhood, making an effort to affect his community and then to be taken away in front of his own store, it’s sad and disheartening.
The dude had a great mind on his shoulders, from business to just enlightenment. He cared about everything he said and every action that he took and every business move. It’s unfortunate to see him not be here with us. He’s a martyr and I think we’re going to see the birth of a hundred more Nipseys now. He inspired a new generation and we’re gonna see a big shift in music. And he’s the catalyst for the new shift that’s about to happen.