Inside Captain Murphy's Cartoon Mind: 10 Revelations From Flying Lotus

His secret identity, insecurity, and Odd Future inspiration

Captain Murphy Flying Lotus Interview Odd Future Cartoon
Captain Murphy appears in "Duality"
Chris Martins WRITTEN BY
Chris Martins

Since he first appeared on an Adult Swim single with Odd Future prodigy Earl Sweatshirt, the mysterious cartoon rapper known as Captain Murphy has been making waves. His Duality mixtape/short film was a psychotropic delight of alluring visuals and disturbing rhymes, and he followed it up with a live show in which the usually animated character was revealed to be Los Angeles beat auteur Flying Lotus, a.k.a. Steven Ellison. The unmasked villain has now given his first interview about the project, via XXL, at last shedding light on his decision to pursue rap (it had to do with Odd Future), the reason for the secrecy (it wasn't to be "cute"), and what's next for a guy who imagines himself as embodying "the darkest parts of the ego of the collective conscious of this planet." Check out 10 revelations from the chat below, and read the entire thing at XXL:

1) His hip-hop roots: "Even though I take a more experimental approach with the shit ... I really feel like I am rooted in hip-hop mostly. That’s where I come from. I think I gravitate towards electronic music because it didn’t really have as many limitations as hip-hop did ... It’s gotta be boom-bap. You gotta talk about the streets. This and that and whatever. Fuck, man. What if I just wanted to do something different?"

2) The Captain is born: "I’ve been working with Tyler, the Creator and Odd Future and them ... They started playing me some of the OF Tape Vol. 2 ... I asked them, 'Yo, Hodgy, how long did it take you to record this shit? How long did it take you to write this song?' 'Aw, my nigga, it took me like 15 minutes.' 15 minutes? Are you fucking serious? I was like, 'Nah, nigga. I am gonna do this shit.'"

3) But still not public: "I felt like I needed another outlet ... I was working on the Flying Lotus stuff and I felt like I spent so much time trying to build this catalogue that I was proud of. It’s a very serious project. I just wanted to do something that was fun that nobody cared about. For the longest time, I have been working on this shit and I didn’t play it for anybody. I didn’t let anybody hear it."

4) Until an accident "Between Friends": "I had no plans on releasing any of the music. I did a song with Earl Sweatshirt for Adult Swim. I did the beat. He came over and he did his verse and he left. I was like, 'This is dope, but it is too short.' We can’t just put out the song for like a minute. Adult Swim, you know, is gonna pay us nicely ... I just wrote a verse. Maybe the third song I have ever written for Captain Murphy."

5) Captain Murphy was insecure: "I sent it and I never heard back from him. I was like, 'Aw, man he fucking hates this shit.' Again, this is like fertile ground. I was so fucking nervous about the [song]. 'I hate this shit. He hates it. He probably sent it to Tyler, Tyler probably hates it. Everybody fucking hates my rapping.' [Laughs] That’s what I was thinking to myself."

6) On why he hid his identity: "I wanted people to take me seriously. Not like, 'Oh, that’s cool. He’s rapping now. That’s cute.' No, I didn’t want to do that. I want to see if it's any good first without any co-signs. I want to see if motherfuckers are really gravitating towards it. If it is then I am gonna keep doing it. If not, then I will know."

7) On why he revealed it: "The whole thing came about speculating who I was. I was like, 'This is the complete opposite of what I wanted to do with that.' ... They made me reveal my fucking identity. There are some people who were like, 'Oh, you shouldn’t have done it. You should have kept it going.' I was like, 'Nah, man. All you motherfuckers making websites and shit about who I am and all this shit made it this way.'"

8) Who is Murphy, really: "Captain Murphy is the darkest parts of the ego of the collective conscious of this planet. [Laughs] I feel like Captain Murphy will say those things that people want to say, but won’t say. I feel like even for me on a personal level, I look and I listen to some of this shit and kind of cringe, but it's that one thing that someone would love to say ... I want it to dwell in that space."

9) Why he's animated: "I would rather be a cartoon because that’s where I feel like I am coming from ... the super spontaneous person who can fucking turn into anything in any given moment ... It is definitely a part of me but it's not who I am on my day to day. So when I do it, it's cool to think about a cartoon character who he thinks is above man. He thinks he is above the law, above people, above everything."

10) On future machinations: "I’m four tracks in ... This one is kind of like more introspective I feel. It’s a lot darker in the tone of it too. It’s a little less playful. But who knows? It’s only four songs. I’m not in any rush to finish it. But I love doing it ... It’s just the thing to do when I got words to write. Because of that buzz that is there and it's building, it’s really encouraging. I feel like a new artist again."

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