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Murs at the Black Sheep show preview 

click to enlarge Murs @ The Black Sheep, with BullHead*ded, Locksmith and Cojo, Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m., 2106 E. Platte Ave., $15/adv, $20/door, all ages, 227-7625, blacksheeprocks.com.
  • Murs @ The Black Sheep, with BullHead*ded, Locksmith and Cojo, Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m., 2106 E. Platte Ave., $15/adv, $20/door, all ages, 227-7625, blacksheeprocks.com.

The L.A. rapper Murs says that his stage name is an acronym for, among other things, “Making Underground Raw Shit.” But raw, for Murs, is much more about emotional confrontation than it is criminal intent.

A former member of the hip-hop collective Living Legends, he went on to express his wryer side through collaborations with Atmosphere emcee Slug on a trio of albums that commenced with 2002’s
Felt: A Tribute to Christina Ricci, and continued with Felt 2: A Tribute to Lisa Bonet and Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez. By decade’s end, Murs had signed to Warner Bros. Records as a solo artist. The deal resulted in just one album, 2008’s Murs for President, before the rapper rejoined the indie world with songs about killing the record industry (“No napalm necessary / The rap game’s now a cemetery”) and condemning homophobia (“Looked at his homies, you know I’m not gay / They just shook their heads, turned and walked away”).

Today, at the age of 41 and with nearly two dozen albums under his belt, Murs’ conversational flow and sharp wordplay are undiminished. His 2018 album
A Strange Journey Into the Unimaginable followed in the wake of a personal hell marked by divorce, depression, a custody battle and a stillborn son.

And while there are moments of comic relief to be found —
Pitchfork described the song “Superhero Pool Party” as a three-minute dad joke — the album as a whole is anything but easy-listening. “If I could take all of my tears and cry them into a chain,” he raps, “I wonder how many million more followers I’d gain.” In an industry where success is still measured in karats, giving voice to grief is a formidable task. It’s heartening to find an artist who can live up to the challenge.

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