MURS with PUMPKINHEAD at the Reverb (651 Queen West), Saturday (December 10). $22.50. 416-870-8000.
There are any number of ways to upset Murs, but glibly throwing the N-word around in his presence is probably the easiest.
It's a problem the internationally known underground rapper explains frankly on 3:16: The 9th Edition (Definitive Jux), last year's incredible collaboration album with Little Brother producer 9th Wonder, as well as over the phone from his Los Angeles crib.
"Once we offered it into the mainstream, we can't get mad once it washes back up onto our shores, so to speak," says the bearded MC, who's just wrapped up a second full-length with 9th called Murray's Revenge.
"All we can do is ask that the suburban kids who are intellectual enough to understand the negative aspects of using it not use it."
Some have paid the price.
"I'm extremely confrontational sometimes," says the friend of Humpty Hump, "so when I can let you know that it's not the right thing to do, I will. But the only way I can probably do that is by hitting you. I've slapped people I don't even know for saying that word, cuz I know if I don't they'll look back and see me and think it's cool to use it."
Never let it be said that Murs, who plans to take Japanese lessons after finishing his anger management classes this year (seriously), isn't direct. The Def Jux MC's brutally honest treatment of an endless range of new topics has allowed the Freestyle Fellowship member to rise to international prominence over the last few years, particularly after the release of The End Of The Beginning in 03.
That rise is probably partly due to the fact that with every subsequent release we learn new things about him; Murs's body of work is a creative tapestry. The admitted 50 Cent fanatic's fans discovered Murs was into film when he announced he'd made a 25-minute film centred around the song Bad Man from the 3:16 record.
With Felt: A Tribute, a two-instalment series of comic-book-associated LPs he developed with Slug of Atmosphere, we found out about his crushes on Christina Ricci and Lisa Bonet, to whom the LP's parts 1 and 2 were respectively dedicated.
Would you believe that neither of them has sent so much as an e-mail? Ugh.
"We never met Christina; she never contacted us. Lisa never tried to contact us," the member of Living Legends gripes about the results of the series.
Just another hard-won lesson in the life of Murs.
"I think if we dedicate an album to a woman, we're definitely guaranteed never to meet her."