Keith Murray Interview
|Next Project:||Rap-Murr-Phobia (Fear of Real Hip Hop)|
|Twitter:||Keith Murray on Twitter|
|Website:||Keith Murray's Website|
In April of 2003 when Keith Murray left Jive Records in favor of rap powerhouse, Def Jam, things were looking up for the Brooklyn rapper. However, after recording his album “He’s Keith Murray” and releasing the Khalil produced single “Candy Bar,” Murray was fired by the label for supposedly choking a street team member during promotions. Four years later Murray has rid himself of his murky past and put together the brand new album “Rap-Murr-Phobia (Fear of Real Hip Hop)” with the help of longtime friend and fellow Def Squad member, Erick Sermon. During an interview with DJBooth.net’s DJ “Z,” Murray talks about why Koch doesn’t need to do much for his album to sell, when the public can expect a brand new Def Squad album and why no “real” MC should ever turn down the opportunity to kick a freestyle.
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Keith Murray Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is one third of the legendary rap group, “Def Squad.” The man behind “The Most Beautifulest Thing In The World” and set to release a new album later this month, please welcome Keith Murray. How you doin’?
Keith Murray: Yo, what up, baby?
DJ Booth: Keith, it’s great to talk to you, man – where you been?
Keith Murray: I been in communicano. Had to regroup, get a grip, come in quick, you feel me?
DJ Booth: Definitely.
Keith Murray: I’ve been in the lab with Erick Sermon, comin’ out with them new hits.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk about that new hit. Lead single off your upcoming album…
Keith Murray: The single! It’s called, “Nobody Do it Better,” number two most added to urban radio across the country, featuring Tyrese, produced by Erick Sermon. The album is called, “Rapp-Murr-Phobia,” [executive] produced by Erick Sermon.
DJ Booth: Keith, is there anyone in the game who does it better than you?
Keith Murray: Sh*t… I don’t think so. Not from what I’ve seen.
DJ Booth: Keith, after you got dropped from Def Jam, essentially becoming a free agent in the game – why do you feel it took so long for you to latch on with another label?
Keith Murray: As for the Def Jam situation, I didn’t even go look for a deal, because I knew they felt that I’d be a liability. So what I did was go in the basement with the bosses – in the studio called, “The Basement,” did some bangin’ on the wall and came out with that sh*t we know and love, took it to Koch, and they loved it. They put out the record and it caught on.
DJ Booth: You’re signed to Koch right now. Were there other opportunities-
Keith Murray: I’m sorry – I’m signed to Def Squad Records/Koch Distribution. I’m signed to Erick Sermon.
DJ Booth: Okay, but were there other opportunities that you explored, Keith, other than Koch?
Keith Murray: I ain’t goin’ to no label! I ain’t goin’ nowhere, ‘cause I already knew that they thought I was gonna be a liability. You know, touchy subjects like, “Is he gonna act up? If I put money on him is he follow through?” you know what I’m sayin’? All speculation. So I said, “You know what? The boss told me yo, “let’s just do the album,” ‘cause I don’t wanna go without no bargaining power, which was the music. I got the music, I took it to Koch, ‘cause we knew they’d make a deal, Erick already knew. I went and did it, and boom; here we are.
DJ Booth: Okay, so post, “Rapp-Murr-Phobia,” (the new album,) where do you go from there if it is a success? What do you do – do you stay at Koch, or do you look to go somewhere else, ‘cause then you’ve proven to everybody what they didn’t know before.
Keith Murray: I stay at Koch, I come out with another record, and I get a nice amount of dollars – notice I said dollars, not cents – on the album. I want to be independent, ‘cause I know, because God said “Listen Murray, if you want to do this, you wanna show people you can make hit records, and also be smart and control your own business, here’s your opportunity!” I’m already famous! I’m already a famous name, and all Koch gotta do is distribute the record properly and promote it and put me in the consumer’s eye, and then we should be good with my core audience. F*ck who don’t know what this is, f*ck the critic’s who’s critiquing it trying to downplay it, this is for those who know and love it and understand it, and just through their existence with it, you feel me?
DJ Booth: Definitely. Let’s get some insight into this brand new album, “Rap-Murr-Phobia (The Fear of Real Hip Hop).” Define for me: what is real hip hop, Keith?
Keith Murray: Real hip hop is unadulterated, no compromisin’ music that is a direct lineage, from the first time you heard a rap record – back in the day. I know my history. I’m not knockin’ those who don’t study or know the history, but that’s where I’m from; it’s like King Solomon – he’s in direct bloodline from King David. Not too many people can say that, but they are sayin’ they king.
DJ Booth: Keith, the direction of the industry since you first started in the rap game has completely changed, and it seems now more than ever that record labels and promoters are trying to market urban music in a different way. Do you feel that hip hop artists don’t know what real hip hop is, or they’re just being slang, in a different direction?
Keith Murray: Yeah, well, some of them don’t know because of the age bracket, and maybe just because of the era I came up in and the hip hop, I know the history, I think a lot of artists would be more conscious of what they’re doing and what this shit stands for, if they took the time to look at it. And it have to do with, their promoters and their record labels directing hip hop in a marketable manner, so I think that question is both answers.
DJ Booth: You mentioned earlier in the interview, Erick Sermon of course, executive produced the brand new album. What have you and Erick done over the course of your musical careers to keep your studio sessions new and vibrant, and always make them like they haven’t been heard before?
Keith Murray: Push the envelope – we can’t do something that, like the last time. And you know, Erick understands radio format – Erick understands what a producer or a person that makes the jams wants to hear. I understand what rappers want to hear and people that listen to music want to hear, so we always push the envelope and challenge ourselves, and stay comin’ on that level. And only pay attention to the history of things.
DJ Booth: Keith, I know people are gonna be excited to hear you and Erick’s work on your new album, but is it a realistic possibility that the public will be able to hear the planned Def Squad reunion album: you, Erick, and Redman, by the middle of sometime maybe next year?
Keith Murray: Def Squad album will come out next year, second quarter. It’s called, “Tsunami.”
DJ Booth: How far along are you in the process of that creation?
Keith Murray: Well, we really 25 percent there. Erick got the beats. We always goin’ over the beats and ideas. We’re 25 percent there!
DJ Booth: Okay.
Keith Murray: When we decide to go in, we’ll knock it out “One two three.”
DJ Booth: I can’t wait to hear it. Keith, if fans have forgotten what you bring to the table as an MC, give them one clear-cut reason they need to pick up a copy of this brand new album, “Rap-Murr-Phobia (Fear of Real Hip Hop),” when it drops this month.
Keith Murray: ‘Cause the way I flow, there’s no one def-er!
[Keith proceeds to drop a 1-minute freestyle. If you’d like to hear the entire freestyle, stream or download the above audio.]
DJ Booth: Keith honestly, that’s the best answer I’ve ever gotten, and in the form of a true hip hop freestyle. Because most rap artists, in our new day and age, would just say something like, “‘Cause I’m the realest. I’m the dopest. I’m the sh*t.” I’m sick of hearing that…
Keith Murray: Yeah!!! That’s what I feel that a lot of us do, like most artists come to the station and don’t even rhyme. Like, “Kick a rhyme.” “Naw, I ain’t got nothin’.” Like, wow! That’s not hip hop! That’s what I’m talkin’ about is the practice and the activity of the entertainment sector. Most material now-a-days is a catchy hook, a little dance to go with it. And then they get through. That’s what it is now. But we still bring lyrical entertainment at any given time, ain’t that be some sh*t”
DJ Booth: I couldn’t agree more. It’s like asking a basketball player to show off his skills and sayin’, “Naw, naw, that’s okay. You know I got it.”
Keith Murray: Yeah, so “Will you dunk the ball for me one time?” And he don’t wanna dunk. Bullsh*t on it, that’s what it is, niggas be bullsh*ttin’ they ass off.
DJ Booth: Keith, where can your fans find out more about you and this upcoming release? Do you have a website that you can give ‘em?
Keith Murray: You can find me at myspace.com/keithmurray.
DJ Booth: I wish you nothing but the best of luck with the brand new album, and extreme success on it. You’re comin’ back into the hip hop game – we miss you, man; I missed you.
Keith Murray: Good-lookin’, and believe me, every song on this album is a record, you know what I’m sayin’? It ain’t just one or two records that you’re familiar with – every record on here is something, and Def Squad – that’s the difference, too – Def Squad makes whole albums. We just don’t give you two or three records, and just be like, “Yo, we is the bomb!” You can listen to my sh*t all the way through it without a problem!
DJ Booth: Keith, I appreciate it, man.
Keith Murray: Good-lookin’ Brooklyn!