Los Angeles' native son Murs is not only celebrating his 20th anniversary as a rapper. He’s also helping Boost Mobile celebrate its recently launched unlimited music streaming plan as the host of the new live show, Where You At? L.A. The five-episode series premieres tonight (July 13, 8 p.m.-9 p.m. PT) from L.A. River Studios with guests People Under the Stairs, MC Verbs, rising underground rapper Reverie and tastemaker/photographer Estevan Oriol.
Also featuring interviews and freestyle performances, each hour-long episode of Where You At? L.A. will be live-streamed free on Facebook and Twitter (via Periscope) using Boost Mobile devices. Throughout the series’ run, Slacker Radio will also partner with Boost Mobile for exclusive content while monthly Boost subscribers will be able to access the accompanying component, Where You At? L.A. Radio, on Slacker through Boost’s unlimited music streaming. Subsequent episodes will air on July 27, Aug. 17 and Sept. 7. The series will wrap on Sept. 28 with a special “Bars for Days” 24-hour live show during which Murs will attempt to break the Guinness World Record -- currently at just over 24 hours -- for the longest freestyle rap.
This isn’t the first time that Murs has collaborated with Boost Mobile. The latter sponsored the popular Paid Dues hip-hop festival, co-founded by Murs and Guerilla Union. “We’ve been on hiatus, but there’s definitely a need for it,” says Murs of the festival last held in 2013. “I think there are talks now about bringing it back. I foresee that something may be happening in the next six or seven months.”
As for his latest venture with Boost, the rapper adds, “I’ve got this great opportunity to be an ambassador. There are so many new ways now to keep people in tune and in touch.”
What do you want to achieve with this show?
I want to represent hip-hop’s diversity and multiculturalism in general and L.A.’s hip-hop culture specifically. My goal is to shake it up every episode with someone who is currently popular, someone who represents the future and someone who has done it in the past. I want to get new and older artists sharing the same platform so that there’s some unity whether you’re a gay artist, female, Latino, old school, new school. They’re all part of the L.A. hip-hop culture: past, present, future, overground and underground. In addition to surprise guests, we’ll have one tastemaker like an Estevan or Van Styles, who is part of the scene but doesn’t actually do music.
I also want to encourage, inspire and empower young people. A lot of them don’t know that Van went from a skateboarder taking pictures of his friends to a millionaire selling T-shirts with his pictures on them. It’s about young people hearing and seeing someone who is just like them and being able to interact with them in real time. Hopefully, it will make them feel like they can do it too. We’ve got some pretty solid things locked up for the series. Then I hope it ends with me rapping to break the Guinness record.
So what sparked that notion?
We were talking about Boost’s unlimited music streaming program and how to get that across to consumers. I’m like we can do a 24-hour rap and started suggesting people for it. The more I talked, the more it seemed like something I could do. My mother constantly told me that if I spent as much brain space on other things as I did rap, I’d get somewhere. So now I’ll be running my mouth in a rap marathon [laughs]. I have a bunch of songs in my head so I think I’ve got 24 hours’ worth of raps.
How will you train for this?
Once we finish booking the acts, I have a rehearsal space in Tucson. I’m going to take it in three-hour chunks, move up to eight-hour chunks and then an 18-hour chunk the week before. We’re also thinking of building some type of booth for me to sit in with a one-way mirror so people can come by and watch me. But this will be live streamed for all 24 hours. People can go to bed, wake up and make sure I’m still rapping. Whenever you want to tune in, I’ll be there for 24 hours. The more I talk about this now, the more I think about 'what did I get myself into' [laughs].
Is Terrace Martin on your list of potential surprise guests?
Terrace may pop up more than once. That’s my brother; we’re great friends. He’s more than a rapper or a producer. He’s a talented musician and an articulate young man, so I try to have him involved in everything I do. We’re going to have a live band onstage so him improvising with the band would be amazing. I love seeing young people seeing people playing instruments and still being hip-hop. That’s so important.
How does Slacker Radio play into all of this?
They’ve given me my own radio station, letting me handpick the music and artists that reflect the diversity and range of music in L.A. Gangsta rap has its place and I love it. But there’s also Kendrick Lamar, People Under the Stairs, Reverie, Anderson .Paak, Terrace’s Sounds of Crenshaw label … so many different sounds are coming out. I want to widen the scope of what people think of Los Angeles’ hip-hop culture.
So what’s the plan after the initial five episodes are completed?
I would love to take the series to other markets and expose hip-hop cultures there like New York, Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area. Texas has a lot going on, as does Chicago. If we go to the East Coast, hopefully we could do something with North Carolina hip-hop. There’s a lot of hip-hop out there from Kid ‘n Play to 9th Wonder and others. I love hip-hop. I love talking to rappers and helping them connect with their fans. I wish I could have talked to Ice Cube the way my fans get to interact with me now.
What is hip-hop’s role in the social and political upheaval that’s happening?
Hip-hop is big enough now where it’s like other media platforms: Fox News has a different role than CNN; CNN has a different role than MSNBC than Al Jazeera. A lot of people have called me out for not posting about what’s happening. But I’ve always known there was work to do and I work like there’s an urgency every day. I’m just glad more people are becoming active because I’ve been active and I need help.
I take opportunities like Where You At? L.A. very seriously and want to bring out artists like Terrace and Reverie to help carry on the legacy. Reverie was 16 or 17 when I met her and in the streets heavy. As soon as I started working with her, I wanted to meet her mother and father to let them know that what she’s doing can pan out and turn into something. I can talk to her all day about positivity. But if I’m not about opportunities, then it doesn’t mean anything. So when corporations come in and give us these opportunities, it’s great because I get a chance to put these kids to work. Here’s your stage, now what are you going to do with it? That’s how I’m responding: keeping my head down to the grindstone and moving forward, trying to involve as many people as I can.