Exclusive: Murs on business: "I do think you can learn a lot from your failures...I've learned a lot and I try really hard not to lose."
Murs, who recently announced his Strange Music debut album, Mursday, is also a figure in other parts of the entertainment industry. Last month, the Mid-City Los Angeles rapper released Hip Hop Trivia: Starring Murs, an app that came about after a conversation with Josh Blaylock.
"A gentleman named Josh Blaylock, who I did [the Yumiko: Curse Of The Merch Girl] comic book with was friends with one of the guys that founded Digital Dreams," Murs says during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. "We were at ComicCon and he said, 'I want you to meet this guy,' and we just sat down and kind of power-lunched getting started off before ComicCon and I said, 'What can we do together?' He showed me this app he had done for this swimsuit model, I believe. I said, 'This is amazing, but what does this have to do with me?'"
In their meeting, Murs and the team that would help him create the gaming app came up with the Hip Hop Trivia idea.
"I thought it was perfect and, at the time, we had no idea there were any apps on the market," Murs says. "I also always want to do something new. I later found that this is not the first Hip Hop trivia app, but it's still something new and also preserves the legacy of the culture. We're telling our history and that's really important. Real Hip Hop heads put themselves in a position to control how Hip Hop is presented to future generations."
Murs Explains Drive For Success In Business
Murs' work with the gaming app isn't his only business venture. He's also the owner of Paid Dues, an annual independent Hip Hop music festival, and the Murs 316 record label. The Los Angeles native is also an independent artist and the creator of the Yumiko: Curse Of The Merch Girl comic book. What drives Murs to be involved in various industries?
"Man I’m just a hustler," he says. "That same drive that drives a lot of young Black males and disenfranchised youth to get money illegally is the same thing I had, but I was very, very, very scared of jail."
Murs has discussed this type of drive in his music, perhaps most prominently on "H.U.S.T.L.E." off Murs 3:16 - The 9th Edition.
"Everyday before junior high I bought a six pack," Murs raps on the track. "And sold them for a buck apiece down by the track / And I never sold crack / I did aluminum cans / Used to get laughed at by you and your mans / But I never let it get to me, stayed true to my plans / And used it all for the studio, now you understand."
Murs Explains Warner Bros. Records Deal
This drive remains an important fuel for his passion for business, he says.
"I’m addicted to opportunities," Murs says. "I can't pass up a good opportunity."
One such opportunity presented itself when Murs signed a record contract with Warner Bros. Records in advance of his 2008 album, Murs for President.
"I had to figure it out," he says of the deal. "They weren’t offering me enough money. So I got a three-year contract for 75 grand with Hurley. Then I took the advancement they gave, then I got a three-year contract to be an A&R with a salary of 35 grand a year. Then I got more points on my album. The other two options, I just created in order to make it worth my while in signing to them.
"So you give me an opportunity, I'll multiply it, divide it and extrapolate," Murs continues. "I will make it into something. To me, there's nothing...especially in this country and coming from generations of people who didn’t have these opportunities and they still made it, there's no excuse."
Murs Advises Young Entrepreneurs To Not Be Deterred By Lack Of Education
Murs says many people have various excuses for not being savvy about business. One excuse is a lack of education.
"Most of the people that are in the business of making money, in my experience, are self-educated, so I wouldn’t let that be a deterrent to any kid or young man or old man, anyone trying to get into finance, especially in the days of a podcast," Murs says. "I’m really interested in bit-coin and via podcast, YouTube videos. There's nothing I can’t learn about it. Don’t let it intimidate you. I think if you have the money to invest, that's the hard part. Learning it? Somebody will teach you or take advantage of you and become a teacher soon enough that you’ll figure it out."
Murs says his business teachers have been in his family.
"I was lucky enough to have my grandfather, who was a entrepreneur, and his father was also one," Murs says. "I’m a third-generation entrepreneur and property owner, landlord whatever it is. Growing up, he always hit me with, 'How much money you making? What are you doing with your money?' [He would say,] 'All entertainers and musicians are failures.' At the time, he used another F word. I don’t want to be a failure or that so I was [like], 'Let me prove him wrong. I was always dead-set at proving him wrong as a young man and show him that I can get money.'"
Murs Says Q-Tip's Pitfalls Influenced Him To Explore Other Business Ventures
Murs also learned about the downfalls of music from watching other notable artists struggle.
"Hearing stories," Murs says, "[like] Q-Tip on MTV telling stories about Low End Theory, having a platinum album and sleeping on his mom's couch, so I was like, 'There's gotta be something else we could be doing.' It would be disrespectful to the bands and artists I love to keep [making] the same mistakes, so I started looking for other ventures [with] my grandfather pushing me and advising me into buying property and other things."
Learning from others is helpful, but Murs also says his success comes from a drive to not lose.
"I do think you can learn a lot from your failures," he says. "I've learned a lot, and I try really hard not to lose. You know I’m not a huge fan of Michael Jordan, never been, but like Kobe [Bryant], like those dudes super [driven] to the point that they get called assholes by certain people...I’m pretty obsessive about it. Paid Dues has been in the black every year it's been on the books. I was one of the first rappers to do a Kickstarter [campaign] and I made sure we won. I’ll obsess about something until it makes that money and I analyze it so much that if there's a risk that I might lose a lot of money. I might not do it, but it's my determination not to lose money because...I value money so much. I'm not throwing money around."