Vote for Murs

    Murs (L.A.’s Nick Carter) is no ordinary West Coast rapper. Greatly respected yet remarkably down to earth, he is a character who bubbles with infectious enthusiasm and ambition.
    Murs’ current tour coincides with the release of his latest album Love and Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation. Gone are his recognizable dreadlocks, but his unique delivery and storytelling style remains characteristic of the music. Following a brief spell at Warner Brothers, Love and Rockets Vol. 1 is released on BluRoc — a label, Murs admits, with an entirely different philosophy to his previous partner.

    “There was definitely a more familial atmosphere,” he said in an interview with the Guardian. “There were lots of creative people getting their tasks completed in a very chaotic way. It was like a reality show with 18 brothers or sisters living in the same house — but with added weed! It was certainly an interesting change of pace.”

    Murs has been praised for his willingness to tackle issues from which the vast majority of modern rappers tend to shy away. Accordingly, “Animal Style,” the last track on Love and Rockets Vol. 1, directly confronts homophobic attitudes through a touching narrative chronicling a tragic homosexual relationship. Murs attributes this sentiment to personal experience.

    “I have friends and family that are gay, or that I feel are gay and leading an ‘alternative lifestyle,’ that haven’t come out or feel uncomfortable,” he said. “As an artist I want to be an advocate for gay and lesbian teens across the world and help empower them.”

    And love is a reoccurring theme on the record, though not always from the romantic’s point of view. Clearly articulated is Murs’ passionate love for California and for true hip-hop, most clearly demonstrated on “Eazy-E,” a heartfelt homage to the West Coast scene. But Murs attests that his influences are limited neither by region or genre, citing anyone from Curtis Mayfield to Vampire Weekend and Jack White as personal favorites.

    “This morning I’ve been in awe of Redman,” he said. “I know every song he has done and the words to every skit.”

    Now an experienced and successful fixture in hip-hop, Murs is eager to do what he can to pass down his understanding of the music business. In the long run, this aim involves plans to branch out into management and label ownership, but for now he continues to aid the development of young talent through Paid Dues, his annual independent hip-hop festival in San Bernardino.

    “Last year was our biggest year: We had an attendance of over 10,000,” he said. “Organizing the event can be very frustrating, but when I walk the grounds and I see the kids that have come and they’re happy and having such a good time — it definitely makes it worth it.”

    Despite his undoubted love for hip-hop, it is when conversation turns from music that Murs reveals his true enthusiasms. Emphasizing the importance of education, he speaks passionately about his desire to develop the projects he has already begun in poverty-stricken Ethiopia.

    “We want to help older children help their communities in ways that they see fit, listening to them instead of telling them what they need or dropping food from the sky,” he said.

    Closer to home, Murs dedicates time to volunteer work with disabled children.

    “It was indescribable,” he said of time spent at an autistic summer camp earlier this year. “I cried a few times and laughed a lot. All of them are just so pure and loving and positive and funny in their own ways.”

    Murs plans to release an installment of the Love and Rockets series annually, and also has plans to produce free mix tapes, “just for the fans,” every six months. It is the reward of his humanitarian projects, however, which appear to explain his relentless enthusiasm for making music.

    “I want to keep entertaining and making a lot of money because when people buy my records, it all goes to someone — adopting more kids, sending kids to school or donating to autism research,” he said. “These are things that keep me inspired.”

    As a key player in an industry wrought with extravagance and self-interest, it is clear that Murs is an artist assured of a unique legacy.

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