Murs is still basking in the release of his most recent album The Iliad Is Dead & The Odyssey Is Over and (finally) celebrating the birth of his third child, who arrived 13 days late on Saturday (August 24).
Before baby madness began, the former Strange Music Inc. signee and Living Legends luminary spoke to HipHopDX about a myriad of topics, including his stance on the n-word, growing up in Los Angeles and Tupac Shakur’s influence on his music.
In Part 2 of the conversation, Murs explains how a move to the Valley ultimately saved his life, what poor parenting looks like and jokes about why he’s the “softest guy ever.”
HipHopDX: The most important thing my parents instilled in me is try to love everybody and don’t discriminate.
Murs: It’s crazy. I believe my mom really saved my life, those three or four years where I wasn’t in the streets. I was already saying ‘cuh’ to my mom at 9 years old. I was going to get jumped into a gang because we were all going to junior high and that’s just what you did. That summer of moving changed my life. But then going to the white kids, and they made fun of me, but elementary school’s not as bad. At least where I lived, it wasn’t as bad. Kids weren’t making fun of me yet. But when I got back to L.A. for high school, everyone made fun of me.
People were like, “Oh, it’s not just rich kids. Black kids can be dicks too.” But I think a lot of liberals take it easier on them. Like, “Oh, they’re black,” but it doesn’t mean you can be a dick. There were poor black kids, the at-risk kids, and I was one of them. And those other at-risk kids were still dicks to me.
Murs: Amongst all of our hardships that young black people in America endure and young people of color endure, they’re still dicks to each other. That’s still poor parenting. I guess white Americans have a lot less of an excuse because you’re not an oppressed person, so you’re not passing down frustration from America from society to your children. Why aren’t you raising your kids to be better? I understand a single-parent kid or a latchkey kid becoming a dick, but a lot more shit could be solved by just being kind to one another.
HipHopDX: So true.
Murs: And I tell my son now, ”Just don’t be a dick, bro. Do you think that was nice to your brother that you snatched that toy? Quit being a dick. Is that kind? Are you being kind?” That was my first thing, “Is that a kind thing to do?”
You can figure out your ABCs, you can fucking figure out how to play basketball or buy a skateboard. The other shit will come naturally or not. But it doesn’t matter because people will hopefully like you because you’re kind.
HipHopDX: Because you have a good heart. Yeah.
HipHopDX: I think in a way, you’re lucky you had that experience in the Valley because it’s like, “Holy shit. I can do something with my life other than this gang banging lifestyle.”
Murs: It’s cool when you tell kids that. I think every black kid, technically, every inner city kid knows that. Even white kids in the inner city, they know that. But until they can see it … I forget who it was, one of my big homies told me, “Paris Hilton is ghetto.” I was like, “How do you mean?” And he’s like, “Because she only knows one reality. That’s what makes you ghetto.”
And a lot of Americans are in the ghetto mindset, whether they’re privileged or unprivileged. You should have to go abroad for a year and do something. Maybe six months in Berlin, then six months in Senegal or somewhere in Ethiopia. Just do six months in a developing country, or whatever you want to call it, and six months in a European country. And just see like, “Oh, this is how healthcare works here. Wow.”
HipHopDX: Yeah, I moved to New Mexico for several years and lived on the pueblo for a month without running water or electricity. It’s a humbling experience.
Murs: You said it right. Sometimes you have to do it yourself. Make yourself uncomfortable. We’re able to travel a lot more freely and easier than a lot of people and we don’t.
HipHopDX: I’ve slept on the street as an experiment. I did the whole hitchhiking thing. I’ve done as much as I possibly can just to figure shit out, see how other people live. I’m glad that I survived, honestly.
Murs: Yeah, I’m glad you survived too.
HipHopDX: I took some huge risks. Let me put it this way, I haven’t drank alcohol in 13 years.
Murs: That’s awesome.
HipHopDX: I won’t take any more hallucinogenics. I can’t. I will literally go crazy.
Murs: You’ve expanded your mind to the margins, you’re good.
HipHopDX: Yes, yes [laughs]. I’m grateful for those experiences, though, because I’m now understand who I am. I’m really glad that I put myself on a journey.
Murs: Yeah, my mom chose to be with a guy that was very abusive and put us through a lot, the domestic abuse. My mom was so humble and she’s like, “Do you forgive me?” I’m like, “Man, if you hadn’t done that, what we went through …” You tripping on acid and broadening your horizons and me getting out of my neighborhood for three or four years, it saved my life, man. I’d do it again. If that was our choice, I’d rather go through getting beat all the time. I hate to say it for my mom, but what she went through was probably better.
HipHopDX: Yeah, you might not be here.
Murs: If I stayed there … with my temperament, I definitely would be dead or in jail. I always thank her when she gets down. And my uncle is a great dude. As I’m getting older, he’s been very influential just how he’s raised great kids in the Crenshaw district of L.A. and now, one of my cousins has gone on to score the Green Book and he’s got a master’s from Juilliard.
HipHopDX: He scored the Green Book? Wow.
Murs: Yeah, Kris Bowers. He’s an amazing jazz pianist and composer, and he grew up on Crenshaw Boulevard and Washington.
HipHopDX: There is a choice, right?
Murs: Yeah, he was able to do it. My uncle was always there for me and he was cool, but I’ve grown to admire him. I did [Talib] Kweli’s podcast [The People’s Party] and we were talking about — like he was admonishing people on Twitter for corporal punishment. And for shits and giggles, I argued with him. I got beat with a belt. I would never, ever hit my kid with a belt. I’m glad my mom hit me with a belt. She may have overdone it, but I could never bring myself to do that.
HipHopDX: Yeah, no way. Me either.
Murs: I smacked my son on his butt with my bare hand and I felt horrible. But I think that watching my uncle and how he talks to his sons and my grandfather … having a great family, aside from living in the Valley for a few years, that has helped me. My aunt and going to Florida every summer for our family reunions — that type of stuff shaped me, so I was like, “Ah, I can’t go too far off because I’m going to have to come back to the family reunion next summer and everybody will know Nick [Carter].”
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Gone vegan fishin’ with the fam. Pardon the intermittent posting. I’ll be back soon. Lots of new music. The Iliad Is Dead and The Odyssey is oVer is less than a month away drop a ? in the comments if you’re ready! #smilinlikeStan #smilinlikeSacred #brownriceandhawaiianbbq #onlytheGzknow #aloha
HipHopDX: I appreciate you sharing that with me just because I’ve always known you as Murs from The Living Legends. That’s how I first was introduced to you, obviously. It’s good to learn more about you. Before we go, I wanted to talk about “Give Me A Reason.” Is that based on real-life experience or was that another story?
Murs: Not at all, just a story.
HipHopDX: Good, you don’t seem like a cheater [laughs].
Murs: There’s a lot of things I write that people can assume are based on real life. I did a song called “The Worst.” At the time, I was in my first marriage. When it came out, people were like, “He’s horrible!” My ex-wife was in the video with me. People still thought it was a song that I actually lived. I think I may have cheated once on a girlfriend in early 2000, and I made out with a girl. I’ve never been able to be in a committed relationship and have a sexual relationship with someone else. I just couldn’t do it. So, I’m the softest guy ever [laughs].
HipHopDX: You’re a good one.
Murs: I have my moments. I definitely have made out with another girl while I was dating a girl. But I would tell you up front. My mom was like, “If you tell the truth, you’re going to get grounded. If you lie to me, you’re going to get grounded and I’m going to beat your ass.”
HipHopDX: Might as well go with the truth and not get an ass whooping [laughs].
Murs: Yeah. And that’s another thing about gang culture. If you’re from another gang, you’re ready to die for your truth. And that’s the kind of dudes I grew up around. Like, “OK, be fearless in your truth.”
HipHopDX: You’ve got to be honest.
Murs: When I told them, “I never told you I was your boyfriend,” I got slapped right in my mouth.
HipHopDX: Oh, damn!
Murs: But being with my mom, I learned to take it. Like, “OK, I hurt your feelings. I deserve that. You weren’t aware, but I never lied to you.” So “Bad Man” is more of who I am. I have a lot of friends that cheat, being in the music business and just being a man, period.
HipHopDX: To me, that’s not being a man. Let’s get that straight. I think that’s cowardly and I think that if you want to cheat, you should just be honest and be like, “You know what? I don’t think I should be in a relationship right now, peace.”
Murs: I think it’s different for men and women. I think monogamy is definitely … there’s a lady in Colorado called the Hip Hop Mom. She’s like my second mom.
HipHopDX: Yeah, Shep. I know her.
Murs: Shep has a lot of opinions on monogamy and men and women being married. It’s not a natural thing. It’s something men don’t tell you. Being faithful to their wife, they’re like, “When you get married, you don’t get married for you. You get married for your wife.” Monogamy is not something men are naturally predisposed to. It’s going to be very difficult for you. And when you do it, this is why you should do it.
The Hip Hop Mom said to me once, she’s like, “When women got the right to drive, the country went downhill.” And listening to her talk to people, a lot of people have heard her theories as well. Like World War II, we were so dominant because we sent our women to work. Other countries didn’t sacrifice that. We talk about parenting is so important. I don’t care if it’s a man or a woman. Someone needs to be staying home and the government needs to find a way to support that other person that’s going to stay home and be a parent because a lot of our problems have to due with poor parenting. Whether it’s people teaching their kids to be homophobic or racist or not teaching them to be kind. You can’t afford to stay home and parent because everything’s so fucking expensive. Our economy is so fucked.
HipHopDX: That’s the truth.
Murs: I think it is being a real man to cheat and I think it’s being a real man not to cheat. As a man, when I say negative things about black people, I’m still black, you know what I mean? There are good men and bad men. There are good white people, good black people. Good gay people, good straight people. Just because of who you are, doesn’t mean you’re a good person.
I just think that if you find a way to be better parents, I think it will nip a lot of this shit in the bud. I don’t know, man. It’s sad. No one said the women should stay home but somebody does. Without proper parenting, the country has gone downhill and people put success and money and career over their children. And that’s cool if you love your career, then don’t have children.
HipHopDX: If I had a child, I could stay home and work, which is a blessing.
Murs: For the first four years, yeah, someone has to be home at all times or whatever you can work out. But to me, that’s a luxury and it shouldn’t be a luxury. It’s a fucking necessity. And my mom couldn’t afford it and I tried to afford it — that’s the real luxury. When people ask me, my luxury is that my wife doesn’t have to work. I don’t need a gold chain. I don’t need a fucking Bentley. That’s luxury.
HipHopDX: See, that’s dope. That’s some real shit because, a lot of times, people get caught up chasing it. I’m happy with my little two-bedroom house. I think this obsession with fame, celebrity and wealth is disgusting.
Murs: I think that traveling would help people. When this baby comes, I have to shut it down for 40 days and that’s not easy on one income. I don’t have a new car. I tour in my minivan that I bought that has 200,000 miles on it, but it’s paid off. My wife drives a Honda and it’s paid off. My lawn looks like shit. I can’t buy a new front lawn for my house. I don’t live like a rapper. My wife could’ve worked her whole pregnancy like, “We need cars, go to work.” I think that it’s perspective. And I’m also have a very great sense of luxury, so I’m not stunting on anyone. I wish everyone could stay home with their kids. It’s a privilege and I’m grateful to my fans. That’s what you should be working for. You shouldn’t be working to get a nice car. I can stay home, my wife can stay home and then when our kids are four or five, or whatever, then I can stay home and she can go out and work. It doesn’t have to be the man always.
HipHopDX: Yeah, I don’t want to go through life and then realize I forgot to live. Some people get so busy working and trying to acquire things, they forget to have a life.
Murs: Yeah, me and my wife disagree on how to spend money sometimes. I’m working on a couple projects with other artists now. One of them’s like, “How are you going to get this advance and this and that?” I was like, “I don’t care, man.” He was like, “Well, what about the video?” I spent $15,000 basically on the short film for The Iliad. I didn’t have to do that out of my advance.
HipHopDX: You said it was “expensive as fuck.”
Murs: Then it’s like at 10,000 views. I end up paying $1 a view.
HipHopDX: That’s got to be maddening.
Murs: Yeah, I think it’s just part of it. You invest in yourself, your brand and your idea. That was what is important. I don’t care about the money. I have the necessities. I budget, you know what I mean? I know I can make it. But, yeah, if I can say, “Oh, it’s only going to get 5,000 views. I should probably save that money.” I was like, “For what?” My wife just saw some flowers in the store and she’s like, “Oh, they’re really nice, but they’re $15.” I’m like, “But they’re nice.” I love what I do, so the worst that’s going to happen is that I have to rap some more or we have to go back and live with my mom.
HipHopDX: But we’re one of the only countries that look at it like that. A lot of families, they live together forever like in Japan and Mexico.
Murs: God forbid we start to think about the millions of Mexican people who aren’t supposedly invading our country and actually probably living happier and better lives than us. Other countries do have good ideas, and I think that that’s great. If you can afford it, great. Get out of your parents house. I got out of my mom’s house, but I always follow my dream and do what’s right. I always tell her, “The worst that happens is I live with you.” And my mom was like, “Cool.”
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HipHopDX: Now that my mom’s gone, I wonder why we move ever. They’re the people I want to be around. And maybe later in life, we all live in Oregon together.
Murs: That’s success. There are people who are blessed to have family that they like being around. If you like being around your family, then be around them. But in this life, like you were talking about, whether it’s a bunch of Crips, whether it’s a bunch of Bloods, whether it’s a bunch of street kids and gutter punks, if you don’t have a family, you find one and you make one. People will have your back. If you get down on your luck with your children and get down on your luck because you were following your dreams and doing what you love, the people who love you will always be there to cushion your fall. I believe that.
HipHopDX: My dad still tells me I will always have a home with him. Sometimes I talk to people about their mothers and they’re like, “Yeah, I don’t talk to my mom.” I’m momentarily shocked because I forget that there are those relationships out there that aren’t good.
Murs: Yeah. It’s also getting older. My son asked me about it because when we had to deal with the death of the baby, he’s like, “Are you going to die? When are you going to die?” As much as it sucks, it’s a privilege to be able to bury your parents. What’s the alternative? I buried a kid and I’m like, I would never wish that on my mom. It sucks and it hurts and that’s what I tell them. It’s going suck. That’s why I don’t eat meat and that’s why we ride our bikes together every morning because I want to live as long as I can. I’m not going to be here forever and it’s your job to have to put me in the ground because I don’t want to put you in the ground. It can only go two ways, bro.
Murs: We’re blessed if it goes the other way. It’s hard to swallow that.
HipHopDX: That’s a real good point. I appreciate that.
Murs: No, no, it doesn’t lessen your struggle at all. I hope that my kid appreciates me as much as you appreciate your mom. And when I look at how much you love your mom and love your dad, I want to be that parent, like your parents. You know? Or my parent. But I want my kid to be able to say what you’re saying. If I do have to go early, I know she’s happy because she did her job. For me, I buried my dad and it sucked, but he wasn’t much. And the world’s probably a better place for it. That’s the God honest truth.