A fictional tale about a side-chick, “The Worst” is the kind of irreverent-yet-very-relevant story that MURS delivers better than anybody in the rap game.
We talked to Wrekonize about the song, being that he contributes his background vocals for the hooks and was heavily involved in the production. The ¡MAYDAY! multi-talent and die-hard MURS fan revealed what went into the track, the magic behind a ¡MAYDAY! production, and gave his two cents on Have A Nice Life.
How has the working relationship evolved between MURS and ¡MAYDAY!? Obviously you guys kicked out the ¡MURSDAY! album. I’m sure it evolved just within that process alone.
It started in a real organic way, even though we were fans of his before he was a fan of ours. I’ve had his project since I was in high school and have been a fan since Living Legends. Even though we have that knowledge of his catalog already and that knowing of him, it still started in a very organic way, in the terms of that MURS is a super down-to-Earth, respectful dude. He comes in with a lot of catalog and a lot of history, but he doesn’t really bring it into the room with him. He comes into the room like a student, like a child, like someone with an open mind. It’s cool that he puts it on the level for you before you even start with him. I feel like it makes it real easy to work, and do what you do normally, as an artist, when you have someone who comes into the room like that, as opposed to someone who has all that history and brings it in the room with them like “Yeah, I got all that history. You ain’t going to tell me shit.” He comes in with such a level head that it makes it real easy for you to work with him. That’s what we built the whole ¡MURSDAY! foundation upon. From there he’s just one of the gang really, to us. He’s just one of the crew. He’s like another member of the group.
It was pretty easy to tell that the ¡MURSDAY! album left a really good feeling with everyone involved.
Most definitely. We had a blast doing it. We did the tour after and even though the tour had some adversity, where we were up against some really rough weather and some janky promoters, and some low turnouts in some areas – even with all that being said, the lasting effect of the whole ¡MURSDAY! experience has been a very positive one and one that I’m sure everyone involved will remember for a long time.
So from that experience I’m sure he wanted to work with you guys again. Did he come back to Miami with the intentions of making stuff for his solo album?
Yeah. We spoke about it during the ¡MURSDAY! recording. He talked about wanting to come back and get with us for his album. When we were on the road working on stuff for our project he mentioned to us “Oh I hear something. You guys aren’t going to use that are you? I want to use that for my album. I’m definitely going to be working on my album.” He had it in mind from the jump that he knew that he wanted to get with us. He also mentioned that after the success we had with “Fragile” and producing some of the other records that we produced for Tech that he felt like it would be foolish of him not to get us involved in a project somehow, even just as producers.
Yeah. I got some background vocals for “Skatin Through The City” on the hook, and then on the hook for “The Worst”. We didn’t push MURS to make it a feature because it really wasn’t a feature vocal. We didn’t want to be those guys to just force our way into the credits on the back anyway. We did a lot of behind-the-scenes work on those tracks so we just kept it like that.
But yeah I’m on “The Worst”. I’m on “Skatin’ Through The City”. I was involved in the production of “The Worst” a lot, “Skatin Through The City” a little, and then the two other tracks ¡MAYDAY!’s involved in are “Black Girls Be Like” which is Gianni Ca$h and “Surprises” which is a beat that Bernz, Gianni and this homie Danny “Keys”, who we worked with multiple times, were involved in.
Tell me about “The Worst”. Take us through the process of the production.
It started out with an idea that Bernz had. Bernz had this thought that he wanted to hear MURS do a kind of record that is kind of like coming from the same strain as Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend”. He wanted to do something and said “I want something to have that kind of overtone. I know MURS doesn’t really sing but neither did Biz. Biz would go up and do that hook, and it was a little out of tune and strained, but it was fun. It had that innocence to it.” That was the initial draw for Bernz. That was the initial inspiration so he came to us. We actually had Plex in the studio. He’s actually been in and out of the studio during this last album. There’s been moments when he’s not there, there’s been moments when he’s there, and that happened to be one of those days where we’re working on that track for MURS. So it’s me, Plex and Bernz, Gianni and Noms. We had the whole crew in there, and we basically started to build this track to basically make a new record that has that same innocence and rough edges that the Biz Markie record had.
It definitely comes through. Who came up with the piano lick? How did that start?
That’s a great question. I know it wasn’t me. It definitely wasn’t me, but I think the initial piano might have came from Plex or Gianni, because we knew we wanted to start with piano. That was the one thing we knew. Then, I know that Noms is playing live drums on there.
When ¡MAYDAY!’s really producing at its best as a group anyways, it just turns into one of those things where the lines get so blurry that you pass it off, you pass it off, you pass it off, and you keep tagging around the room until you step back and go “Okay, what did we make?” It’s just one of those things where you tag off every other instance you can, and keep it as cohesive as possible between us all.
How long have you guys been at the point where all minds are separate, but come together as this “one mind” sort of vibe?
I think we’ve always kind of been doing it, but it’s intensified over the last album and the ¡MURSDAY! album, because in the beginning it was Plex as the dominant producer really and producing everything. I’ve always been making beats. Ten years ago I started making beats on MPC. I’ve always been making beats, I just never pushed to have my production featured on our material heavily. I’m like a self-loathing producer – I hate all the beats I make. I’ll make ten and one of them I’ll be like “This is dope,” and the other nine I’m like “This sucks!” In Take Me To Your Leader you have a few tracks that are from me. I did “Last Days”, I did “Imprint” with Plex, but Plex was doing most of it.
As Plex kind of had to expand into other projects and sat back a little bit, his production lessened over the albums, like Believers became a little more mixed. Gianni had to step up and take a lot of weight off of Plex’s shoulders for Believers and then when it came to ¡MURSDAY! you have Bernz stepping in. He kind of went on a production hiatus in terms of button pushing. He’s always been like a Phil Spector, the over-your-shoulder guy, but hasn’t been a button master since we were signed to South Beat. So you have Bernz stepping back in for ¡MURSDAY!. That’s when we really start to go “Okay, I brought in these pianos. What can you do with this?” and then Gianni turns that into “Tabletops”. Bernz has brass players come in and then it’s just like everybody working at their full production potential for ¡MURSDAY!. I think that’s when we really started to strengthen up the cohesiveness between the whole group. Now you have Noms stepping in. My ideal situation is that you have everyone bringing beat ideas. Everyone is able to play an instrument in one way, shape or form and it’s just getting passed around the room.
That’s awesome. How has Noms stepped in lately? It’s been really exciting to see that he’s taken up production duties.
Yeah! I think he’s always had the talent to do it, he’s just never taken the initiative to do it. He’s just been very comfortable in his role, but also the guy does multiple things in his life. It’s tough when you’re dancing, you’re an instructor, you’re doing breakdancing battles, you’re in this band, you play however many dates a year live, and then you have these dominant characters in the group that also produce. I think that maybe he might not have gotten the inkling like “Maybe I should start trying to learn how to work one of these programs or produce,” but he’s got a musical mind so I always thought he was more than just a musician and a player, so I’ve always pushed him in that direction. I think now finally he’s starting to feel the desire to really get involved.
He stared to really produce beats on his own from start to finish. The first placement that he really got that was a fleshed out beat of his that he took the reins on was “Ready 2 Run” on Boost Mobile ¡MURSDAY! project. That was the first time you’ve seen Noms come in as a full fledged producer, not just a player on the record.
What does he bring to the table? What’s his specialty?
I think he, as cliche as it may sound, I think rhythm really. He’s a percussionist. He’s going to have some of the best rhythms of the whole crew when it comes to programming beats, and sometimes you don’t get that. I’ve met some drummers that try to produce, and they’re amazing when they play the drums, but when they actually go and program the drums it doesn’t come across for some reason – something about the physicality of it. They’re not actually playing it so they don’t have the mental – it’s just more of a natural, physical reaction. Whereas with Noms, I’ve already heard some of the earliest beats that he’s been making and no matter what I think of the beat, overall the rhythm is always good. The drums are always layered well. He’s always got good counter-rhythms. You can tell that he has that mind to be able to switch over from just playing percussion to actually programming rhythms into music without playing it live.
Back to the track, what do you think about what MURS did with this song?
I love it! It’s great. I think MURS has always been an exquisite storyteller in terms of hip hop. He’s up there. He’s always told great stories, classic stories that even at the live shows, people know every word to. The way he tells it, it’s so tongue-in-cheek but at the same time so real. The stories are always very relatable. I keep getting reviews back on the live show. He was performing it live, no one had even heard the record yet, and he’s performing it live and people are hitting him on Twitter like “‘The Worst’! ‘The Worst’! ‘The Worst’!” I think everyone in the world can sing that hook about at least one person they know.
Do you remember what you brought to that production, specifically?
That is a good question. I want to say that I helped with the drums a little on that one. I definitely know that I had to have sat in with whoever was doing the riff, the original riff, because we were trying to keep it sounding like something we’ve heard before but not rip anybody off either. We didn’t want to go “Blurred Lines” on them. We wanted it to be familiar without it being a rip off of anything else and that took a little bit of work.
Have you heard the album?
I have, I heard. the whole record.
You’re a huge MURS fan. What do you think about this one?
I love the album. I heard it from start to finish. I heard some of the roughs beforehand, not all of them, but I heard a few. I hadn’t heard how it was going to blend together. It’s tough when you only hear a few songs, especially when it’s not your project, how it’s going to translate into a full album from start to finish.
I knew it was going to be good and I knew it was going to be cohesive, but it definitely went above my expectations in terms of the songs I heard and the songs we produced. Everything just blends together well. That can be tricky to do when you’re working with multiple producers and string a beat together from here and there. I think he did a really good job.
It has some really good social messages in it. It has that classic MURS hysteria where he talks about things on a record that just makes you crack a smile. His whole mentality shines on the record and I think he’s got some really great material on there. From start to finish I enjoyed it. We had a 40-hour road trip back from Salt Lake City from this last tour, and luckily we had four hours left when the album came out on iTunes, so I was able to put it on and have it take me half of the way home.
Anything you want to say before we close this up?
Just to Have A Nice Life! Support the record, go see him on tour. He’s got a great live show. The dude kicks ass and I’m just honored to work with him.
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