The in-studio chemistry of Murs and 9th Wonder, and its strange, sexy surprises | Music Feature | Indy Week

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The in-studio chemistry of Murs and 9th Wonder, and its strange, sexy surprises



Since Los Angeles emcee Murs and North Carolina producer 9th Wonder began collaborating in the form of full-length albums with Murs' 2004 record 3:16: The 9th Edition, the rapping half of the duo has become quite the ladies' man.

That is, across all four of the joint releases by Murs and 9th Wonder, Murs has told a different side of his twisted story with women—dark-skinned white girls, silly girls, Asian girls, girls he wants to marry, girls he loves, and on the duo's latest release, Fornever, adult-film girls. Yes, Murs tackles an ultimate taboo: dating porn stars.

One such woman's name happens to be Vikki Veil—yes, like the DC Comics character, Vicki Vale, best known for being romantically involved with Batman. Murs says comic books had nothing to do with the song, though. Rather, "Vikki Veil" is a prime example of the sort of happy accidents that happen when a producer and a rapper spend time in the studio together. In hip-hop, producers generally make beats and supply them to emcees. They don't watch each other work, necessarily. But as they have done for each of their duo albums, Murs and 9th Wonder recorded together in the studio, this time convening in Los Angeles in early October last year.

As 9th remembers, Murs heard the beat, immediately proclaimed the title and the concept, and recorded the rap rather quickly.

"I think it's about my insanity," Murs says of what the term "Vikki Veil" might actually mean. "I liked the original sample that 9th used. [The sample] is not saying 'Vikki Veil' but it sounded like 'Vikki Veil.'"

Neither Murs nor 9th can decipher what the sample actually says, but that didn't matter. The technique echoes one of 9th Wonder's premier teachers, Detroit producer J Dilla. For his group Slum Village's track "Players," the late beat-making legend lifted a snippet from "Clair," a cut from vocal group The Singers Unlimited. The Singers are saying the name Clair, of course, but Jay Dee slowed the sample to offer the illusion that the sample was saying "players," ad infinitum. That's how this beat works.

And if you're hoping to check the original song to decode the sample for yourself, that might take some work. Honoring a tradition not uncommon among hip-hop producers, especially those who pride themselves on being part of the fraternity of cratediggers whose knowledge of older, more obscure songs and musicians is not loosely shared, 9th Wonder prefers not to name the source.

"I knew about this particular artist for a while," he skirts. "I learned about him through [fellow producer and hip-hop legend] Pete Rock."

Either way, above 9th's chipped-drum soul, Murs warns the guys with the introduction to his rap fable. "I know you heard what you think you heard and saw what you think you saw on the Internet," he offers. "A lot of you dudes that be lookin' at these porn stars and all these hookers and strippers and you think you wanna take home, but I'ma share my experience with you and then you tell me if that's really what you want to do with your time."

The online incident is a scandalous one. Nearly a year ago, Murs appeared alongside porn stars Roxy Reynolds and Candace Von on Sirius Radio's Shade 45 station on the show Lip Service. On air, host Angela Yee and the two women began engaging Murs in explicit sex talk. By the segment's end, Murs was lying on the ground, and a panty-less Reynolds was, well, sitting on his face. Eat that, Howard Stern.

It's either the soft echoing of Vikki Veil's name or Murs' empathy raps that makes us cheer for the lady in question for a moment. Can she help the effect she has on allegedly innocent guys like the one Murs presents here? Murs has dated a couple of adult-film stars, but he says this isn't his tale. He, however, has seen this song's situation—a guy falls in love and creates an error-prone situation, not an erotic one.

"So then I sat her down and said, 'Baby, that's it/ If you really love me, then you're gonna have to quit'/ She said 'I'm the same girl I was when you met me/ and if you can't love me, you should just forget me,'" Murs relays.

"I've known guys who've done this," says Murs. "This is from their perspective. There's been guys and girls that I know in the adult-film industry, and the guy always ends up asking them to quit. You can't come to the store for socks and then call customer service when they try to sell you socks."

"She broke my heart/ now I'm makin' it public," he raps just before landing the song's punch line. "Never let your dick pick who you fall in love with."

So how does one explain the idea of a devoted husband and family man like 9th Wonder and a skateboarding, porn star-dating, comic book-loving guy like Murs getting together year after year to make fun hip-hop records?

"We're both from strong family backgrounds. We're both friends with each other's families, so I think that provides a certain sense of loyalty. Contrary to what some may think because of other projects he may have done, I think that he's a very loyal person at the core," explains Murs. "Probably the only positive thing about me growing up in LA with gang culture is that I'm extremely loyal to people. He's always been like family to me."

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