At the age of 13, Oakland, California’s Lil Monie witnessed his father take his final breath shortly after being shot in a home invasion. Monie was also wounded during the unfortunate occurrence, but managed to survive.
At the time of his death, Monie’s father was an aspiring rap artist, known by the moniker Monie Hogg the Great. His passing inadvertently served as Monie’s motivation to take rap seriously.
And that’s what the East Bay talent has strived to do over the last few calendars.
Monie’s easily distinguishable voice has been heard on songs with the likes of The Jacka, Husalah, Mistah F.A.B., Philthy Rich, Lil Blood and Joe Blow. His rhymes mirror the life of a person waist-deep in the streets, with subtle hopes of making an impact musically.
Determined to solidify his slot among the greatest to hail from Northern Cali, Monie has released three installments of his Underrated album series, and has more projects in the works.
Oakland’s very own took some time out to reflect on his father’s legacy, the close friendship he shared with The Jacka, and Mistah F.A.B.’s success during the height of the Hyphy movement. He also talked about his early work with Livewire Records, who he’s listening to right now, addressed rumors of him being a snitch, and touched on his creative process.
Ahumblesoul.com: Tell me about your upbringing in Oakland.
I’m out that West Side, mane. Hell Street. Dogtown, mane. I came up in a jungle, right there on 34th. A house full, like 14 people. Auntie and Uncle, Moms and Pops, [brothers and sisters] all in one house. My dad was really the musician of the family. He always tried to get me to rap, since I was a young bull. After he died, I just said, ‘Fuck it. I’m going to do the rap shit. I’m going to continue his legacy.’
My dad taught F.A.B. everything he knows. Mistah F.A.B. was pretty much like a son to my dad. Ever since he passed, F.A.B. kind of took me in. F.A.B. calls me his son.
What type of bond did you share with your pops?
He was like my best friend, even though he was my father. He showed me the game. He told me about these snakes. He was a gangster, but he had a good heart. I watched him feed niggas, put niggas on. Niggas showed nothing in return, how snake niggas do. He could be good when you wanted him to be; he could be bad if he needed to. He was a real legend out there in that town.
In your music, you’re open about witnessing your father’s death. Do you mind reflecting on that day?
He came and grabbed me from San Leandro, that’s like 20 minutes from Oakland. We went back to the house. We had a studio in our basement that was pretty much open to everybody that was family and music artists. It was a pretty popular spot. Spice 1, Too Short, Mistah F.A.B., and the whole AFNF—All Family, No Friends, they would come through and record all late night. The night that it happened, I happened to go downstairs. I guess somebody hit the fence or whatever. They didn’t come all the way into the downstairs section of the house. They fired like seven or eight shots, and I got hit, Lil’ Blood’s daddy was hit, and my cousin was hit. My dad came downstairs, and he was shot. He died at the hospital.
You mentioned being close to Mistah F.A.B. Were you around him when the Hyphy movement was receiving nationwide attention?
All that shit. I’m in that “Ghost Ride It” video. I’m the lil’ nigga sitting down on the floor, right behind him. When Mistah F.A.B. first got that light on him, he wasn’t jealous with it. He was feeding niggas, putting niggas on. ‘Oh, you broke? Here go some money.’ He was giving certain individuals a way to make some money.
I was introduced to you via your work with Livewire Records. How did that connection come about?
Yeah, people used to think I was Livewire. Before Philthy Rich was really on, like he is, he used to come down to the ‘hood and grab me, like, ‘Bro, I want to do the album. I want to put you on. You’re hot.’ I was dibbling and dabbling in the streets; my mind was on other shit. He would get me on songs. Ronald Mack would get me on songs. J. Stalin would let me come fuck with him. Shady Nate would get me on songs. It was a big studio over there in East Oakland called the PTB with J-Moe and all of them, and the old school Digital Underground. I would always be over there, just rapping hella much after school. I was in there getting on different cats’ songs, so people damn near thought I was Livewire everywhere I went.
Considering Livewire had a large buzz back then, and have an even larger one now, what made you decide not to join the label?
I never had the opportunity to sign with them. We never got to that point. They would just love the way I would be rapping and be like, ‘Throw him on something.’ It was never like ‘Oh, Monie fixing to be Livewire.’ They just had hot tracks, and I would be around and get on some shit.
I had a chance to speak with Carey Stacks last year. During our conversation, he reflected on his friendship with Jacka, and how generous Jacka was. Can you share your thoughts on Jack?
He was like an angel, bro. Like he said in that “100 in my Chop,” ‘That boy Lil Monie, that’s my right-hand man.’ That was real, bro. He would give you the shirt off his back, bro. Before his money was spent, he would make sure you were good. Even if he just met you, if he saw signs of struggle, he would try to help. It ain’t too many people like that. He’d put you on. I’ve watched him numerous times say, ‘Here, bro. You can take all of this. Don’t worry about it. I’ll get some more.’ He was a very giving person.
There have been allegations floating around about you being a snitch. Can you touch on this?
Shit hit the fan, and niggas was like, ‘I had a wire on.’ The nigga that they said I had told on was damn near like family. After Jack died, he pulled up on me, took pictures with me, and kicked me out a few dollars. But, you know, that shit don’t change shit. That didn’t do nothing but make niggas hate it more. My whole thing was, I fell back on niggas. Fuck niggas. But Hus call me every other day. Blahk Jesus; it’s certain niggas that stuck to me. And I got a pack of niggas behind me, for sure. But certain niggas fell out. Niggas got to sneak dissin’ me in songs and shit, not saying my name and shit because they know niggas wit the shit. But it’s all good, man. All praise due to the high power. I’m gonna keep pushing. I wasn’t made to satisfy these niggas. It’s all watered down shit anyway. My whole thing is, how the fuck you get 50 days in jail, but you get caught with like 10 pounds and four guns?
Jack was like, ‘Niggas talking ‘bout you telling. I ain’t gonna turn on you. I look at you like a son. I know everywhere you stay. I ain’t gonna send no harm to you. I love you.’ That’s the only thing that mattered to me. But all them other niggas, them niggas was saying my name in songs and shit. Niggas know, if you say my name, you’re getting protection in the street. Niggas know not to fuck with you because I’m wit the shit. All these niggas. It’s not a rap nigga from Oakland that didn’t say my name. ‘My nigga, Lil Monie. My nigga, Lil Monie.’ And half the time, wasn’t none of them niggas fuckin’ wit me from the go. That’s what niggas do. Niggas use you for clout and shit. But, you know, half of these niggas be hitting me on Instagram talking about, ‘Brodie, it’s all love. I don’t want no problems with you.’ My thing is, let the world know that shit. Don’t be saying that shit on the low, nigga. That’s hoe shit. Certain niggas talking bout they gone do shit to me, and see me and run stop signs and shit, you know? Fleeing the scene out of there.
Since the allegations came out, I haven’t seen you collaborate with a lot of the artists you used to work with. Do you think y’all will ever reconnect?
You know, the nigga they say I told on, he’s around me every now and then. He come drop shit off, and come around. I don’t see why not. I can’t tell the future. But at the same time, I just stay in my own lane. I don’t speak on niggas. I don’t say niggas names. The ones that fuck with me, it’s love. And the ones that don’t, it’s still love, too.
What’s your creative process when you’re in the lab?
I do everything freestyle, bro. As far as my punch game, Jack really [taught me that]. Jack was like, ‘Bro, you way too dope to be sitting up in here writing raps and shit. I’m doing music all day. You can’t slow me down, and I want you to be on the pace I’m on.’ I was like, ‘Well, shit, what you want me to do?’ He was like, ‘Get your ass on the mic and freestyle your first line, and off that last word you said, you rhyme on the next line to that, and watch how fast you be.’ At first, I was like, ‘What is you talking bout? Hell naw. That shit is hard.’ He was like, ‘I’m telling you, it’s easy as shit, and you’re going to get more songs done and faster.’ I started doing it, and I noticed it was doper that way. When you don’t know what you’re going to say, you end up saying some real unique shit.
Who are some of the artists you’re feeling right now?
I wake up slapping some of that Mozzy. Lil Yase. J. Stalin. Dubb 20. Husalah. They got a couple of young cats. Lil Uno is my nig. I fuck with Lil Uno from the Wolfpack. I be off that Ampichino. The song he did dedicated to Jack, I slap that. I like the Doughboyz Cashout. They got the young nigga from the East; he pretty dope. He called Project Poppa. I slap him. He from East Oakland, out there in the Village. They got the lil’ Acorn cats, Lil Purp. Lil Birch Street Wee, and Lil QB from East Oakland. Pretty much, if you’re a good artist, I listen to niggas. I don’t really care about who niggas be having certain problems with. I slap DB tha General. HD. I play everybody. I don’t really sugarcoat shit and take sides. A lot of these niggas out here take sides. I ain’t wit none of that shit. Ain’t none of you niggas put food on my plate, and ain’t none of you niggas fed none of my family. I slap everybody. And that’s how that go. A lot of niggas ain’t like that, though. They try to group up and click up. I’m not with none of that. I slide through, and I bounce out in all of you niggas’ hoods whenever I want, how I want. I’m not with your gangs, your clicks, or none of that shit.
What do you have in the chamber musically for the future?
I got some shit cooking. I got the Underrated 2017 and ’18 on the way. That’s cooked up already. I got like four or five more songs to do for the ’18, but it’s coming. On this one, I’m just going bad on shit. I like to put all my pain into my music. A lot of these niggas be cooking shit up and giving it to you as is. I try to put
my all into this shit before I give it to my people. I’m just trying to come at it from a different angle this time—real storytelling and real pain. I’m showing niggas I can’t be fucked with. I’m the nigga, and all that other shit is whack. Period.
You mentioned putting your pain into the music. Would you say recording is therapeutic for you?
Yeah. When I want to get away from all the bullshit, all the negative shit, I just go in and hit that record button. That’s what gets me by. I love this music shit. A lot of these niggas is doing it just to do it. This is what we love. We gave up everything for this. I put all my time into this. This is what I’m doing. While these niggas is out doing all the fuckery and shit, I’m either writing or listening to some instrumentals. As soon as the beat come on, I know what I’m going to say. I adapt to it.
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers before we wrap up?
Just keep pushing. Don’t let nobody tell you what you can and can’t do. If you love this music, love it, just how you love pitching that bundle or holding that hammer you got, or being a doctor or a dentist. However you love it, keep pushing with your passion. Don’t let nobody bring you down. Perfect your art and craft, and show the world what you got because I am. And rest in peace to the mac muthafuckin’ Jack.