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Reggae high on Eddie Murphy's list ... As actor looks to get back into musical groove

Published:Sunday | March 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy's biggest success in music came on his first try, with the 1985 smash Party All the Time. After that, not much was heard from the entertainer on the musical front - but he kept on plugging away at it out of the spotlight.

"When I'm not acting and being funny, in my private time in my personal time, I do music more than anything. I'm always in the studio," he said.

Now, Murphy is ready to let people know what he's been working on, Last month, he released a reggae single, Oh Jah Jah, inspired by recent events.

"I was watching CNN about two or three months ago and all this craziness was going on with the terrorism and chopping off people's heads and then St Louis, Ferguson. A bunch of police brutality going on [at the] same time and I had that progression, but I didn't have any lyrics, but I had that groove," he said. "I'd been playing that progression for about a month and then I was watching the news and it all came together one day," he said.

While his music releases are occasional, he's been more busy on the acting front: He's finished a new movie and today, he'll return to 'Saturday Night Live', for the show's 40th anniversary special.

Murphy spoke to The Associated Press recently about his music, film and comedy.

The Associated Press: Why the long wait before you released something?

Murphy: I wasn't waiting. I was just recording stuff. I stopped putting stuff out in the '80s because, I don't know how old you are, but back in the '80s, it was like a bunch of actors putting albums out. Everybody was singing and it always looked weird, like an actor singing this weird song, like, 'What the hell is this?' And I was like 'I don't want to be a part of that.' Ö I just said, 'Okay, I'm not going to put these records out because I don't want people to think I'm trying to be an actor trying to be a pop star.' So I just kept writing my stuff and doing my stuff privately because I had no pressure and no expectations.

AP: Johnny Depp recently dismissed Hollywood stars who launch music careers off the back of their acting success and he called the trend 'sickening'. What would be your response to that?

Murphy: He talked about what I was talking about. When you see actors singing, it usually looks like some actor who never really had any musical interest but is throwing that in with all the different success that their having and is trying to jump in. They may have a halfway decent voice and always fantasised about singing. Everybody wants to be a singer. That's why I stopped putting records out. I'm not trying to become a pop star and flip it to make some extra money, or become a bigger celebrity or any of that stuff. This is something that I do and have done for years and years.

AP: If you were to release a reggae album, would you put it out as Eddie Murphy or would you think of a reggae name?

Murphy: I've got 25 years of stuff on the shelf. I could go right now and pick six, seven, eight reggae songs and put out a reggae album. I could go back there and pick seven or eight country songs and do a country album, or I could do a regular dance/R&B album. I've had people say, 'You should put a record out because it's a good song and if they didn't know it was you, they'd like it under a different name,' but, hey, these are my tracks and I'm not hiding behind any of it. It is what it is.

AP: Will there be an upcoming album or any collaborations?

Murphy: I have collaborations with all kinds of different artistes over the years. Stuff with B.B. King, I've recorded with Paul McCartney, Snoop, Ö Raphael Saadiq. As far as future collaborations, that all has to come together organically.

As far as an album coming out, if one of these tracks jumps off, if one of them connects with the people digging it and I get some momentum going, I'll put [out] an album, but I'm not planning an album until I'm sure people want to hear something. Otherwise, it'll stay on the shelf for years and years. A hundred years from now, they dig through everything and I'm totally fine with them finding hours and hours and hours of collaborations and they'll say, 'We didn't even know Eddie Murphy'. I'm totally fine with that.

AP: What about any upcoming film projects?

Murphy: I just finished a movie. It's not a comedy though. It's called Cook, and it's got a really strong director, the guy that directed Driving Miss Daisy and Tender Mercies, a guy named Bruce Beresford, a really strong director from Australia.

AP: Any plans on returning to stand-up comedy?

Murphy: When I was doing stand-up it was a hundred comedians, now it's a hundred thousand of them. So if I got onstage again I'd have to be doing something that makes me different from all these other hundred thousand comics. My fantasy when I think about live performances is playing with a really strong band playing a half-hour or 40 minutes of music and having the curtains go down then doing an hour of stand-up comedy. I'd have a really fly show if I could pull that one off.

- AP