Monday, June 28, 2010

When I fell in love with hip hop
I started dating Stephen a month into my first semester at St. Edward's University. He was my original hip hop mentor. The first hip hop show that I witnessed was at a rave that he took me to. I saw Pharcyde perform. Never before had I experienced the energy of a room of hundreds, bobbing their heads simultaneously, arms in the air, pulsating to heavy beats. Everyone was in it together...

Stephen had an admirable hip hop collection and, as his girlfriend, I took full advantage of my opportunity to expand my musical knowledge. He had an extensive library from Kool Kieth to the Mighty Souls of Mischief, Del the Funky Homosapien, Visionaries, Pharcyde, De La Sol... the list goes on. I enjoyed and appreciated this music. But there is a specific moment when my interest in this new found genre transcended into a deep admiration.

During SXSW, random bars in Austin host showcases and it happened that the Back Room, a seedy Tejano pool hall, was host to the Living Legends, an L.A. hip hop crew. We arrived early to ensure our entry to see the Living Legends and had some time to kill so we ventured across the street to Whataburger. At a table near the door sat a guy, acting silly, with a roll of stickers that read "Murs Rules the World." This sticker would later adorn the back of my little blue hatchback that I drove at the time. I fell succumb to his flirtations for a moment; he asked if I would be at the show. I smiled and said that I would see him there. I honestly did not know that he was Murs of the Living Legends, I just thought he was promoting the show. I had been listening to a lot of the Grouch and Mystik Journeymen, but I knew little about the rest of the crew.

We eventually made our way back to the Back Room and to the front of the stage. The night was dragging and the Living Legends were last to go on. I had never seen them before, but I had a feeling that they would be worth waiting for, so I did and my intuition served me well. This was the night that I fell in love with hip hop.

Each of the Living Legends has their own unique style. They got to me. They acknowledged me. They were engaging. They made me feel like they really wanted me at their show. This is significant because I never felt like I totally fit in this culture, appreciating it, but still feeling it out. The Living Legends were relatable artists who, through their rhymes, painted clear pictures of their ideas and passions. I was sold.

While I have my favorites, all of the Living Legends amaze me. I love what they have done together and I love what they do individually. "Making Perfect Sense" and "Fuck the Dumb" by the Grouch and "Black Sands ov Eternia" by Mystic Journeymen, I played these albums on repeat for days at a time. I also relied heavily on the clarity that I found in Scarub's album, "Fact of the Matter." Since those days of my formative hip hop knowledge, these artists have continued to grow innovatively. Their sounds are fresh, their beats are sexy and at their shows, they still let you how appreciative they are that you are there, bobbing your head, waving your arm.

Since I saw Murs at SXSW last March, I had been looking forward to his June 1st show at Emo's. In fact, I used one of my vacation days so that I could stay out late and enjoy the night.
I was fortunate enough to get an interview with him, one of the most instrumental artists that swept me off my feet, into this wonderful world of love, and innovative creativity that is hip hop...

This blog post is titled, "When I fell in love with hip hop" and you happen to play a pretty big role in this passion of mine... it was back when the Living Legends did a lot of work together. What are some of the most positive results that came from being a part of Living Legends?
There is strength in numbers. I think we were able to have a huger impact by having eight to nine dope artists creating this Legendary spectacle at one time. We were also a crew of innovators so if it wasn't being influenced creatively while living and working alongside my brothers, I was definitely guaranteed to be stimulated or inspired by their work ethic or some brilliant new business strategy. It's also encouraging when you see that someone else from your crew succeeds because it let's you know you can as well. Sometimes it can lead to envy but if channeled properly it can fuel you to make your dreams reality as well. And finally it gave/ gives me a standard to uphold. Living Legends has always stood for independence and innovation and I feel we all do our best to never tarnish our good name. As if the name Living Legends isn't enough to live up.

Do you have a favorite project, album, or song that you did as a member of Living Legends?
My favorite stuff is probably the solo music from everyone or the songs we've done together for each other's solo projects. But if I had to pick one song it would be "Nowyouno." It's the first crew song we ever did. It was on a comp entitle "Beats and Lyrics."
My favorite album would be Underworld, which is technically not a Living Legends album, but it was the genesis according to me.

How would you best describe the album Fornever?
A Murs and 9th Wonder album with a very West Coast swing to it.

Would you mind naming three of your biggest influences in hip hop?
Ice Cube, Jay-Z, and E-40

It is apparent that you have been working hard promoting this album, Fornever. When you finish this tour, do you have any new projects that you are going to begin, or do you plan to relax for a while?
I have a punk album with the band, Whole Wheat Bread, from Florida. The album is called Murs and Whole Wheat Bread are the Invincibles.

A more uptempo raunchy 2 LIve Crew meets DJ Quick. It's a collaborative album with producer Terrace Martin called Melrose.

An album with Sick Jaken of Psycho Realm called Lost City and all year long my online comic book with Josh Blaylock called Merch Girl... every chapter includes a new exclusive song based on the content of said chapter.
Next year Varsity Blues 2 and talk of a Living Legends record.

You currently have 30,122 people following you on Twitter, which is significantly more than many of your colleagues. What do you attribute this large following to?
Hard work and God's grace.

It seems like you visit Austin fairly consistently. What are a few things that you appreciate about this city?
I love the food, energy, people and culture. I feel like it's a missing part of Northern California with a southern twist. I've made good friends and even greater memories there.

Listen to Fornever