Getting Down with Murs and Tabi
Murs (aka Nick Carter) has been a fixture in independent hip-hop for 15 years. As a part of 3MG, Felt, Living Legends and on his own, the intelligent and inventive West Coast MC is known for not being afraid to push boundaries and a distinct, easy-going flow.
Tabi Bonney is a West African-born, Washington D.C.-raised rapper who has a master’s degree in biology and his own clothing line. His father was an Afro-funk superstar, and Bonney is seemingly poised for the same kind of success in the world of hip-hop.
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The two are currently performing together on the Hip Hop and Love Tour (which makes a stop by the House of Blues on Friday night) and have a song together by the same name that appears on each of their new albums. I recently spoke with headliner Murs, and the up-and-coming Bonney, about hip-hop, their last two months on the road together, and what the future holds for both of them.
Scott McDonald: How are you?
Murs: I’m all right. And you?
SM: I’m tired. Took my boys to Yo Gabba Gabba! Live.
Murs: [laughs] We did Yo Gabba Gabba in New York. It was pandemonium. The kids were crazy and dancing everywhere -- in the aisles and everything. It was pretty crazy.
SM: You just released Love & Rockets, Vol. 1: The Transformation. Does that mean we can expect more volumes?
Murs: Yes. I’m planning on three. Right now, I know I’m calling the second one The Declaration. But that’s all I know right now.
SM: You’re 15 years into this right now. And with two more volumes in the current series, it seems likely you’ll hit 20 without a problem. Do you think about that?
Murs: I definitely do. It feels like winning the lottery. I’m just so thankful, man. It’s a real blessing. And it’s not that I can’t believe it. I can believe it. I’ve worked really hard for this, but I never thought I’d still be here at this point.
SM: Hip-hop has gone through some definitive changes in that time.
Murs: Hip-hop, and music in general, has definitely changed. The way that music is listened to, introduced and consumed has changed the most. But it’s made it a lot easier for many artists. It seems to favor the independent artist or the extremely creative person.
SM: Is the goal to be heard by the most people?
Murs: It’s about having people enjoy your art and being able to control the creative input, and the message, that you’re putting out there.
SM: Is there any talk of another Living Legends tour?
Murs: I haven’t seen those guys in a while. The last record we put out was ’09, so I don’t feel like it’s been that long anyway. We were a group for four or five years before we put out our first record, so we have time. And I don’t think it’s about getting back together or anything, because we’ve never really broken down or broke up. At this point, it’s really all about coordinating schedules.
SM: What’s the future hold for you right now?
Murs: Tabi Bonney and I are going to shoot a pilot for a series called Besties that we’ve been working on.
SM: That’s funny. I’m talking to him next.
Murs: Cool. He’s an interesting dude.
SM: How’s the tour going?
TB: The tour has been great. In this digital world, it's always good to get out and touch the fans/people in real life. I'm ready for it to be over, and there’s a bit of nostalgia, too. I try to live in the moment, but I do miss home.
SM: Seems like your fashion/directing has been on hold. When will you be getting back to that?
TB: Ah, yes ... damn, I miss my boo's. Right after this tour, I'm getting back to my loves!
SM: You're an international traveler with two degrees. What brought you to hip-hop?
TB: I always had a love for hip-hop. It's always where my heart has been. It just happened. I had to take a chance and see where it would lead me.
SM: I know you have a deeply musically rooted family. How much did/does your father's career inform yours?
TB: It may be genetic, and I always had music around as I was growing up. So I would say it played a big part.
SM: Can you ever see yourself making music other than hip-hop?
TB: Yes, hopefully I can evolve and do other things. I like pop, electro and ambient music a lot.
SM: How do you reconcile all of the other things you do?
TB: Nothing is forced with me. So it all naturally coexists. I think if you're a creator, it transcends into many other things.
SM: How different was working on [the new album] The Summer Years, with Ski Beats and Dame fully in tow?
TB: Very different! I never wrote on the spot in the studio before. That's the only way Ski prefers to work, so I had to adapt. It was a challenge and a great learning experience for me. Dame would pop his head in the studio every now and then ... do his dance ... and step out.
It was surreal to be around Dame everyday, though, and soak up knowledge outside of the studio.
SM: You traditionally put on a "show." What about a bigger live offering is important to you?
TB: That's all I know. Seeing my father at all times with a full band, and being from Africa where people put on shows, it seemed like the natural way. I always feel awkward when it's just me and a DJ.
SM: What's next?
TB: Working on some cool film projects. And that's about it.
Blogger Scott McDonald covers music in San Diego for a few different publications and is the editor of Eight24.com