Heady hip-hop 

L.A. rapper Murs represents the underground

Los Angeles-based Murs released his first solo album in 1997, which in rap years makes him eligible for Social Security. It also makes him pleasingly immune to the rigid conventions of contemporary hip-hop, because Murs is about as far from bling- and snowman-rap as you can get. A Murs track is less likely to be about how he is wealthy and successful than about how he is glad to be done with a bad relationship. Murs rapping about the crack game is unimaginable. On the other hand, Murs rapping about the availability of grant funding for young black men to pursue graduate business degrees is satisfyingly real.

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In other words, he is doomed. Murs is not going to knock 2 Chainz out of the Top 100 with verses about how rap expresses black culture but does not constitute its totality. Nor does he want to. He is an old-school, content-and-consciousness rapper, and he operates in relation to hip-hop the way hip-hop operates in relation to the rest of American culture: oppositionally, kind of. His flow is archaic; his lyrics are painfully earnest and he plays small rooms. Murs reminds us that hip-hop still has a real underground, literally, in basements. He is happy to be there.

Murs plays the Badlander along with Prof, Fashawn and David Dalla G at 9 PM on Tue., March 12. $18/$15 advance at Ear Candy, Rockin Rudy's and online, plus $5 surcharge for ages 18-20.

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