As a teenager, Murs even experienced racism on the dance floor.
"We would dance with Mexican girls or El Salvadorian girls, and when the lights came on, they’d act like they didn’t know us," the South Central native told MTV News. "Because their cousins would kill us or their brothers would f—k us up, so there was always that tension.”
That issue is at the heart of “Mi Corazon,” the latest single off his album Have A Nice Life.
In the new vid, Murs falls in love with a Latina named Letty (played by radio personality Letty Martinez, who helped inspire the song). Her big bro (played by actor Michael Flores) doesn't like the interracial romance. Eventually he guns Murs down, which is upsetting, but it's an unfair reality that many interracial couples face.
In 2010, Census.gov reported that there were 5.4 million interracial or interethnic married-couple households in America. Though that seems like a large number, hate crimes still occur across the country (from Queens to Pasadena), making it all the more important to tackle the issue.
Murs, whose real name is Nicholas Carter, has experienced other forms of racism too. When he was 15, he watched major race wars go down at school. Once, the LAPD's S.W.A.T. team was even called in to help break things up, which is pretty scary to think about.
"There were Black and Mexican riots every year at my school,” he said. "On the quad, the Mexicans would hang out on this side, the Blacks on this side and the Asians on this side. There was a huge divide and a lot of the kids were going in and out of jail — even at a young age — and there was a lot of tension in the jails that spilled over into the schools."
Since then, Murs has used songs like "Mi Corazon" to fight discrimination. In '06, for instance, he made “Dark Skinned White Girls” about stereotypes women face. Then, in 2011, he wrote “Animal Style,” a tragic song about a young gay couple and homophobia. He takes on these issues because he doesn't think they're discussed enough.
"I try to fill that void," he said. "That's why hip-hop exists, to make social change and to challenge people’s ideologies, stereotypes and ways of thinking."
Murs hasn't just challenged listeners; he's also touched them deeply. Fans have told him, for example, that they feel more comfortable with themselves because of "Dark Skinned White Girls."
"With ‘Animal Style,’ I’ve had people say that they came out to their parents because of that song," he revealed. "That was a victory."
Now, Murs wants "Mi Corazon" to be another track that makes a difference.
"I hope something positive comes out of it,” he explained. "The divide between the two colors isn’t gonna change because of a rap song. There’s a lot of prison politics that I won’t even pretend to understand. But it’s one rock in the lake and it’ll make some ripples. Then, hopefully more people start throwing their stones and maybe we can make some change."
For more information on racial bias and racism, visit Look Different.