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San Leandro, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

San Leandro, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Hip Hop Alternative



The best kept secret in music


"The Break Presents: MondreM.A.N."

For Bay Area MC MondreM.A.N., his break’s been a decade in the making. From his early recordings with Mayhem Music to the underground “cloud rap” of his duo Main Attrakionz, he’s maintained a single, unifying vision. Beyond the grills and foreign whips, Mondre wants rap immortality, as well as the opportunity to travel and see the world. His forthcoming album, They Say I Struggle Rap, is a kushed-out mix of big dreaming and hard living, and comes out November 12.—Peter Marrack

Name: Damondre Grice a.k.a. MondreM.A.N.

Age: 22

Hometown: Oakland, California born and raised. It started on 43rd and Market. I was like 10, 11. Then we moved the studio to 63rd and Idaho.

I grew up listening to: My first two CDs I ever bought were Big Tymers’ I Got That Work and B.G.’s Checkmate. I was living in Mississippi at the time. I bought them because of the cover. I started watching music videos, and them niggas had the Lamborghinis, iced-out teeth. I had never seen that. I thought that shit was cool. Later on my ear expanded to music. I fuck with East Coast, West Coast, down south, even overseas. I fuck with Tommy Kruise, up in Montreal.

Most people don’t know I: They don’t know we’re about to blow, and take over this game. We ain’t going to be no face that’s going to be here, then gone in the next ten years. I’m still going to be here doing my thing in ten years. I want to take Green Ova to the next level. We got that dream.

My style’s been compared to: Ask one of my Green Ova people. It’s that Main Attrakionz shit.

My big cousin Karus told us from the beginning. Me and Squadda [of Main Attrakionz] had to write raps because he had a label. He was on some independent Bay Area shit. The label was Mayhem Music. It still is to this day. I was just writing raps, sitting in the back of his whip. We had to spit our raps we wrote before we could even get in the studio. This is when Bow Wow and Romeo were popping. He was trying to compare us to them, but like he said, “Ya’ll cussin’ and shit. How we going to promote ya’ll, in the industry? Ya’ll got to clean up the raps.” He was wildin. He told us, it will probably take ten years, don’t stop and you’ll be happy.

My standout records and/or moments to date have been: Zombies On Tha Turf. That’s a Main Attrakionz project, one of our first ones we ever did, up in our room. That was ’09. “Surprise” and “So Deep.” That’s some treasure shit. I think I was 18. I’m on that DMX “Slippin’” beat. “I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’, I can’t get up.” I hopped on that beat. Dope Since 91 project. The whole project. That was my first one I ever dropped, that I feel like was an official album.

“Intro Shit.” We just dropped the video for that one, off They Say I Struggle Rap. It came out how it was supposed to. You seen how the clown was there. Niggas wear any type of mask to get the job done. If you don’t want your face to be shown, and you don’t got nothing to put on, you’re going to see that mask there. You’re going to put that mask on and get the job done. But nah, it just represents the struggle. When I take the mask off, mission done. Shout out to Tim Jieh for directing it.

My goal in Hip-Hop is: When I leave, when I die, I’ll still be in the hip-hop game. I’ll still be here with ya’ll. I’m still be with the younger generations. I just want to complete my personal legend. My personal legend is to be the best I can be while I’m on this Earth. I don’t really want too much. I just want a nice amount. But the world is yours, the world is ours. I just want to see tomorrow, who’s around the world. I want to see the world before I get up out of here, man.

I’m gonna be the next: Stephen King. He’s real legendary. He’s still behind-the-scenes. I been seeing those books since I was in elementary.

To check out more of my music go to: The Internet. Bandcamp. Google Main Attrakionz. We started out with DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, but just BandCamp for the recent ones. We got Green Ova BandCamp, Shady Blaze BandCamp, my BandCamp Green Ova Chapter 2. Bossalinis & Fooliyones is on iTunes. - XXL

"MondreM.A.N.: "MC ILLIN""

Been fiending for a sequel to the Cool Kids' 2008 LP The Bake Sale EP? Look no further than the first single from They Say I Struggle Rap, the debut solo album of Main Attrakionz’ MondreM.A.N. (out November 12 via SWTBRDS); it's got that basement thump, plenty of space for synths to echo, and verses riding easily over the surface of a pedal-bike beat. Producer Al Jieh does some of the best work in the Bay with the likes of DaVinci and Shady Blaze, and the first-day-of-school freshness of the production here combines the Bay Area ethos with a comfortable, minimalist vibe. - Pitchfork


There’s a single moment that MondreM.A.N. can point to, when he realized he wanted to be a rapper for the rest of his life. In middle school among his peers, he performed a song called "Collar Shirts” in a talent show.

“I didn't know what they expect from me,” he says, “but everybody liked it. The very next day I walked around the school like, yep, I got a white collar on.”

Leaning back into a chair at a coffee shop in Brooklyn, Mondre takes a moment to pause, touching the collar of his shirt—one that also happens to be white, the front sporting album artwork for his debut solo record, They Say I Struggle Rap—reflecting on his first taste of hubris. He takes a sip of the Grey Goose bottle he’d brought along in his pocket.

It’s a little odd for a young rapper to romanticize in such a manner, especially during a press cycle for a debut record. But even at age 22, Mondre’s career has already made an impact. Alongside Squadda B, he’s spent the past four years establishing a presence in the hip-hop game with Main Attrakionz, the Oakland-based duo who’ve filled the internet with purple-juiced mixtape after mixtape, embracing West Coast swag in their rhymes and lyricism. Now, Mondre’s here to branch out on his own. A few weeks ago, we chatted and he explained his thoughts on the current hip-hop scene, and just exactly what the fuck “blog rap” is.

Noisey is also happy to premiere the album stream for They Say I Struggle Rap, which is out November 12. Listen below via Spotify.

Noisey: What are you most proud of on the album?
MondreMAN: Man, I'm like probably at a stage in my life when the album probably when I was just now comin' into the work. You know what I'm sayin'? I'm gettin' inspired by the New York music scene and everything and just talkin' 'bout my life, certain stages of my life since I was 20 years old. I’m 22 right now.

It's a fuckin' great album title, by the way. How have you seen yourself growing between ages 20 and 22, from Main Attrakionz to solo stuff.
I’m getting more comfortable with myself, like gettin' to know myself more, type of feelin's like 22—I can't look back on 18 years old like I would never think I would be sittin' right here, you know what I'm sayin'? But now I am.

Where were you when you were 18?
18? I was in Oakland, California at Slaughterhouse with the Lo-Fi studio. Droppin' mixes, tryin' to get heard, tryin' to get this to you, the whole family in. But you know, it's a long story though.

What’s it like to see such rapid growth from 18 to 22. That’s not a very long time.
I seen a lot of change. 18? That's when Twitter came around. That shit took off fast, you know? I gotta Twitter and so I started meetin' other people that like our music, overseas and everything. First show we ever had was in Florida. They flew us out there to the college in Sarasota, Florida.

And you had never played a show?
No, I'm like, "Damn, we just release music on the internet." And after that happened I'm like, "Man, anything can happen."

What was that show like?
Man, it was fun. College turned up though, man, like for real. That show was fun though.

Have you felt like you've had to keep up with the rapid internet growth?
I wasn't feelin' like that. If I was feelin' like that, I probably would have tried to make a bubble gum single, to try and get people to react.

What’s it like to have every interview talk to you about age, and the young rappers out there in the game getting famous?
What I see for reals is hard work, man, just work, know what I'm sayin'? I see 'em all night just workin' together and accomplish it. It's good to see unity in the game because there's not a lot of unity out here no more. A lot of things comes after that but like, damn, friends ain't your friends no more type. Just watchin' the game grow—the people I fuck and all the other people I met that made beats—these people are huge, and it’s good. There are fools I can't get beats from no more, guys I got beats from in the past. I like to see that though, like once you don't stop what you were doin' better do it's gonna take you places.

How do you see hip-hop continuing to evolve?
It's just a "be yourself" type of space. That's why you get those types of music now. There's only certain people that can do that shit. Like Yeezus? I ain't really hear the whole album, but what I was seein' like, reviews for what I was hearin it's really different from like anything else he dropped, like it's a whole new Kanye they say. Dude’s rich now. The more money you get, you gonna switch up your ways, switch up your lifestyle and, it's good to see that change in music, too. Cause it's like you can go from hearin' somebody rap about him sellin' weed, rocks, trappin' and shit to looking good. Like, why would you hang on that early stuff? Maybe you can't rap about that shit in your life, cause he ain't doin' it no more. It’s always going to be a cycle in this rap game. There's always gonna be that new person that's doing something. Shit ain't gonna never stop, though. That's all I know. Little kids gonna be rappin' if they could.

How do you and Main Attrakionz stay ahead of the game?
Stay in my lane, but at the same time, you gotta stay connected, gotta stay in the loop of things but the same time stay in your lane. Like, I mean, our music ain't done growin', I don't think it's never gonna be done growin'. R&B shit, and Jamaican shit, you ain't never heard the R&B tape from me yet.

Will there be an R&B tape?
Yes, there is, man. We'll do one.

What do you think of Drake?
Drake. I'm goin' to tell you this: I don't pay no attention to him. Every day you either goin' to hear 'em on the radio or somebody got his music on their CD or iPod or somethin'. And even though I don’t pay attention to him, since I went to Toronto, I fuck with Drake.

Did you meet him?
I didn't meet him. Never met him. But this was when I heard “Started From the Bottom”for the first time. They was like, "Drake gets a pass out here. It's cool to play a little Drake." And that’s a fuckin’ track. They just ride around Toronto. And I see where he's comin' from, you feel me?

What is it like to work solo versus with Squadda?
I mean it's no different. There's no difference. It's just like I got some studio time and it's just me in the studio. He could be busy that day or something.

How would you describe your relationship Squadda?
We brothers, man. We knew each other since we was 12. We work for each other man, ain't no way around it. We there for each other. Whatever he going to do I'm there with him. Whatever I do he's there with me. Just keep each other inspired.

How do you see like Oakland playing a role in your music now versus the role it played when you were getting started?
I grew up in Oakland, and where I started off it was just nothin' but Oakland because that's all I knew. I never been nowhere. I went to L.A. for the first time—there you know, Blackberry Kush came up. Pass the weed we were smokin' on out there. In Malibu, man, beach houses, damn. We ain't never been there before but we're not comin' back to Oakland just like mind changed. You still a certain type of way once you get around those surrounding's, then you're in your environment back home. It’s a struggle in Oakland for real, man.

When did you learn to rap?
From my cousin, man. I called him my Jay Z. I was about 12 or 13. Just spittin' raps too. And he would be like, "You gotta switch that and switch that up. Write a rap every day, man. Even if you do a song, write another song to that beat to see if that one's better. You feel me?" I'd never heard nothin' like that. He taught me about ad libs and double verses and shit.

The first song me and Squadda ever recorded was to Clipse, the grinding beat. It goes way back to middle school, beatin' on the desks. We was the rappers. We had a little hit in eighth grade called "Collar Shirts," and we wore white collars. That shit was sick. We performed it at the talent show, and everybody liked it. The very next day I walked around the school like, yep, I got a white collar on.

Is there anything as an artist about which you feel misunderstood?
You always feel misunderstood doin' this. Not everybody goin' to understand you. I don’t know if I got any haters. I’m sure I do, but I can’t think about that shit. I want everybody to love me for real, I'd be happy like that.

What do you think about the term "blog rap?”
Blog rap.

You ever hear of that?
I seen that before. What is blog rap? Just music gettin' on blogs? Gettin' tired of seein' the same name on the blog or something'?

That's just—you can't worry about that. That's gonna happen regardless. People fuck with what they fuck with. Blog rap, man. Blogger's tryin' to do they jobs, man.

Cool. How many grills do you have?
How many girls?

No, grills. Well, grills and girls.
Man, let's start off with the grills. I been through so many sets of grills I lost 'em, man, I keep losin' 'em. 'Bout to do some permanents next time so they won't ever come out of my mouth. I lost my first set, then got another set, the bottom things broke on me so I copped another set, stepped it up this time a little, threw some diamonds in there and shit. I still lost those, man. Then I just go this one, yeah, so I ain't tryin' to lose these.

So then, girls.
Girls, girls, girls. I like New York women, they cool. [laughs] You tryin' to get me caught in the interview. Shout out to my women though, man, for real. - Noicey


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Currently at a loss for words...

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