Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Yumiko: Curse of the Merch Girl - Art

Nick Carter is Murs, a California artist and emcee with few limitations. His name is an acronym for "Making the Universe Recognize and Submit," or, "Making Underground Raw Shit," depending on his mood and intent.  1997's F'Real, his first solo album, defined Murs as an independent musician who knew how to weave music and words together to deliver a message only the street can tell.

"Ease Back," track number seven on the album, is the young artist proclaiming to a stale record industry that hip-hop was moving on without them, and Murs was leading the charge. His rapid shot-delivery and dim mak-accurate lyrics, backed up by warping beats and aggressive, droning rhythms, made F'Real both a collector's item and just the first move from a man who has since gone on to dominate the game with each LP he's made since then.

2008's Murs for President proved that he wasn't just a one-topic musician. Here is where the artist directed his incisive logic at politics in America, bashing hypocrisy and blasting the corrupt criminal behavior of the leaders of the U.S. with an album that was both music and message.

"The Science," track number four on the album, is not only good listening, it's an information bomb guaranteed to detonate preconceived notions the uninformed might have of of good and evil in the government, with lyrics like:

"Now let me give my hypothesis, an educated guess
On why my people on the whole seem to be such a mess
Genocide, the deliberate extermination of a race, culture, or an entire nation
Centuries ago they brought us here on a boat
Enslaved us, beat us til our spirit was broke
Then they gave us freedom and a little bit of hope
Then they killed our leaders and they gave us dope (crack)
From the C.I.A. by way of Nicaragua, shipped to Rick Ross, he’s the black godfather
Now Oscar Blandon was his known supplier, he snitched on Rick so he could retire
Ratted on Ricky so he got out quickly, now this is where the situation gets a little sticky
Not a citizen of the U.S.A. he got released and got hired by the D.E.A.
The he got his green card by the I.N.S.
But that should’ve never happened due to previous arrests
See our government seems to think that there’s a difference
Between powdered cocaine and crack, for instance
You get five years for five grams of crack
But in the powdered form you have a hundred times that
Now who has the rock, and who has the powder?
Who’s the oppressed and who has the power?"

Still rocking the underground hip-hop scene, Murs has the money and the momentum to pursue his muse in a million different forms. With his latest project, Yumiko: Curse of the Merch Girl, the artist weaves music and illustration with a project that is both a graphic novel and LP. The album has ten songs, with each song corresponding to a chapter in the comic.

Murs has attached his name to a project that is more than just the story of a pack of super-powered muscle men eradicating faceless criminal mutants and/or mutates with arcade efficiency. Instead, Yumiko: Curse of the Merch Girl is the story of Yumi Morales, who's a merchandising girl for her boyfriend's band, Murder Acts.

While on tour with the band she finds herself stranded in a small town, confronted by images that are merely facades for darker powers. As their images disintegrate, Yumi realizes that she's locked in a reality ruled by gnostic archons which represent either her temptation or salvation.Can she escape?

As an artist who has faced his own temptations (he's long been courted by a mainstream record industry fully intent on handing him the riches of the world for what is probably a measure of his soul), Murs certainly has the background and philosophy to create a soundtrack for a modern day fable of a young woman's journey through Limbo. But the magic of Yumiko: Curse of the Merch Girl is that it is a welcome addition to an industry badly in need of feminine mythology. 

How many times do we have to see Superman, Batman, Power Man or Spider-Man start a story beating up another, more powerful man, only to end up back where he started? Throughout history, human poetry and myth has given us many legends of females that confronted evil and became stronger for it, whether it's the resurrection of Osiris by Isis, or when Jael kills Sisera, the evil commander of the Canaanite forces, with a tent peg through the skull in Judges 4:21 of the Old Testament Bible.

Illustrated by Josh Gracia and and written by Josh Blaylock, Yumiko: Curse of the Merch Girl is a journey worth reading with music worth hearing. It's also another side of Murs, just when you think you might have guessed his next maneuver. In an industry that you can usually predict to choose the safe route when it comes to album sales, it's great to see an independent artist call upon like-minded talent to create a work that shines, far from the mundane shores of the mainstream.

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