Local hip-hop group creates Cover Oregon ad, and plans to use it

Local hip-hop group creates Cover Oregon ad, and plans to use it
Vurs (right) of the hip hop band Lifesavas sings about Cover Oregon in a new ad, and he said he plans to buy insurance through the exchange. (YouTube screenshot)

The hip hop artists who created Cover Oregon’s latest ad don’t have health insurance themselves, but they look forward to shopping for it on the exchange when it opens in October.

“At this age, we all need it,” said Marlon Irving, the Lifesavas’ MC who goes by Vursatyl, or Vurs for short. “Getting health insurance is an awesome opportunity.”

The group consists of Vurs, Jumbo the Garbageman and DJ Rev. Shines, who are all in their early 40s. The trio are no different than a lot of independent musicians and entrepreneurs when it comes to health insurance.

“All of us are independent artists and doing music full time has been our job for the last 15 years,” Vurs said. “We don’t have retirement plans. Our job doesn’t come with dental care.”

Vurs said he got a health plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield a couple of years ago, but it got to be too much of a financial burden. His three children have health insurance through the Oregon Health Plan.

He and tens of thousands of other Oregonians, both individuals and small business owners, will be able to access coverage and comparison shop once Cover Oregon opens for business. The exchange is in the midst of a $16.6 million marketing and outreach campaign to get the word out. The Lifesaveas’ ad is the third of five ads featuring Oregon musicians. Cover Oregon also will rotate overtly educational ads into the mix as well.

Vurs said the only guidance he got from Cover Oregon’s ad agency, North, was “not to get too political. Keep everyone in mind.” North reps also mentioned Schoolhouse Rock as a good reference point.

“That resonated with me because I thought those were awesome,” he said. “We had a lot of leeway.”

The ad features the three musicians partying with family and friends at a family celebration and was shot on location at a relative’s house in Northeast Portland. Vurs said the goal was to “celebrate life and drop a few jewels about the opportunity to have health care and find out how we can all take advantage of affordable health care.”

“The goal was to make a good song and, hopefully, be informative as well,” he said. The Lifesavas, whose albums include 2003’s Spirit in Stone, were working on a new album when the assignment came along, so they didn’t have a lot of time to put into it.

But within 36 hours, they knew where they wanted to go with the song and Vurs wrote the lyrics. The chorus goes, “Lots of living to do, lots of living, live your life.”

Will they ever perform the Cover Oregon song in concert? Vurs laughs.

“The tenth anniversary celebration of our first album was the day after we wrapped the commercial shoot and we were considering doing the song that night,” he said. “We didn’t do it. The show was about us performing our first album, so we couldn’t figure out a way to work it in.”

But he said they’d consider it in the future.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner.