Rapper Nick Carter goes by MURS, an acronym for Making Underground Raw (Stuff). Despite his recent jump to a major label, Carter's underground credentials are secure, thanks to a decade at the forefront of California's independent hip-hop scene.
But at a hot and crowded Rock & Roll Hotel on Saturday night, it was hard to find anything too raw about his performance. It certainly wasn't his beats, provided by a single DJ, which were mostly sunny and unobtrusive. It wasn't Carter's delivery, which was smooth, confident and often singsongy. And it isn't his subject matter, which focuses largely on everyday issues, and often finds Carter wearing his heart on his sleeve. MURS doesn't do misogyny, but he does do regret. "Everything I do, it reminds me of you / And everything I see reminds me of we / And every time I lust, it reminds me of us / Girl, I wanna stay together cuz I hate breaking up," he sang on "Break Up."
On "H-U-S-T-L-E" MURS rapped about how he never sold drugs but instead made money by selling aluminum cans and helping ladies with their grocery bags. (He even name-dropped Whole Foods during some between-songs banter.)
Carter's a seasoned pro on the mike, but the performance dragged by the end, suffering from a lack of diversity. Touring in support of his new album, "MURS for President," he kept the political talk to a minimum but still told the audience not to drink and drive, to practice safe sex and to be respectful of women. For a platform, it was plenty entertaining, but as a concert, it was a bit lacking.
-- David Malitz (Nov. 2008)