Nobody is more L.A. than Murs. But he doesn't even live here anymore.
He's now based out of Tucson, Arizona, where he says he doesn't stand out. That's for a few reasons. For one, gone are the thick ropes of dreadlocks that formerly sprouted from his head. Also, he drives a Prius. And he likes watching SEC football on Saturdays.
But he's back in his Mid-City hood today, where he's recognized even without his signature hair. Dressed in green Adidas pants and a black t-shirt, the rapper sits at a table in his mom's house on a quiet, pretty block. He's arrived only an hour ago, but he's already made the rounds to see friends and family.
His latest album, Love & Rockets Vol. 1, was released today on Damon Dash's label DD172/Bluroc. Over a take-out breakfast from his grandmother's new restaurant A Taste Of Chi Bas, Murs talks about the shooting of his two friends, why he can't live in L.A., and what it's like to be handed the keys to Dame's house.
So you were the bad kid in your family?
I was the one that was never gonna be shit. End quote from my mother. When I was 15, I told my mom I was gonna rap. She's my number one fan now, but she was working at Kaiser at the time, and wasn't really in tune with what was going on. This looks like a nice neighborhood, but it's lower middle class. That's what's wrong with Los Angeles.
What do you mean?
Rappers talk about being from the hood in New York, and it's rough. I've been there--but it's not insane to me. People are poor. They'll take your things, but L.A. is the only place where there's warfare. Like, these kids are insane. And there's no reason. It's like Muslims and Jews. It's not about the religion. It's about, "Your uncle killed my cousin." It's blood. And blood in the streets. I applaud my mother and brother for trying to fight it here in South Central.
Even now you feel that way?
Yeah. I moved to Tucson because we used to shoot dice three blocks down on this corner. One night I went home early, and five minutes later, two of our friends got shot. There are bloodstains on the concrete of that house on the corner, and they tried to sell it to me for $899,000. Are you fucking kidding me?
And if I lived here, [I'd] still have to have a gun because people over here know what I do for a living. There's neighborhood shit I'm still a part of, or could be a part of, and I wouldn't feel comfortable living here without owning a firearm and carrying it illegally with me at all times.
How long ago did you leave?
About two years ago. I'm not fully cured. I go in cycles. I've moved to Tucson, I've moved to the Bay. I tried living here. I had a sports car; I was going to Hyde. Sure, I could move to the Valley, but I wanna be in my neighborhood. If I can't be here, I don't wanna be anywhere. I'm insane just like the kids who grew up here. I love my hood. I got tattoos. I judge them, but I'm just as crazy. A lot of my songs that people think are about girls or relationships are about L.A.