Filed under: Interviews,Killa Queens,Steady Bootleggin',Thun Language
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
After enduring a number of false starts in the music game, QB MC Foul Monday is preparing his debut album title I Hate Fucking Mondays with a number of local and European producers. Having worked with Killa Sha and Ron Artest in the past, Foul has witnessed a lot of Queensbridge rap history, and he took a minute out to explain the finer points of that thun language with me.
Robbie: What inspired you to take rapping seriously?
Foul Monday: It was actually two different forces – one that made me start rhyming, and one that wanted me to start making music. I met Starvin B in the eighth grade – he’s Irish and Indonesian, so you can imagine what that package looks like rapping! At the time he was one of the best rappers in our school, so I was kinda inspired to be that. I’m thinking, “If this kid can do it, I can do it.” As fate would have it, he was transferred over to my class and we became good friends and he helped me find an identity with this rapping stuff. When you start out, you emulate, you steal, but he helped me find my own voice. As far as wanting to make music? That came from Killa Sha and the Killa Kidz. Those were my friends from the neighborhood, at that point they were already doing music and pressing up vinyls. Making music wasn’t realistic goal until I saw them doing it, so I just strived to get better and better until folks started acknowledging me for my talent.
Plus Sha had been deejaying for Mobb Deep in the early days, right?
Yeah, Sha was way, way into the music business before anybody. After his run as Mobb Deep’s DJ came to an end he pulled in all his friends that actually could rap and they became a group. They were making some noise for a bit, and then Baby Sham – who was in the group – got signed to Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad, so they put even more light on us but it kinda changed the dynamic of the group so they were looking to fill that spot. That’s where Ruc Da Jackel – Mr. QB – comes in. Then another member left, Sham’s brother. He’d basically followed Sham to try to help him grow his career a little more, so that’s when I came in. I guess that was around 2000. The Killa Kidz manager, True Force, he was impressed by what I could do and he gave me beats to rhyme on and stuff, kinda like an audition. I passed the test and I was in the group for a while, then all that stuff dissipated with the Ron Artest deals and Sha getting deals with other places. Around 2001, 2002 we all went our separate ways.
What about the Mud Brothers?
Me and Sha came together and created the group Mud Brothers. We went together really well, but as a group it didn’t spark too much interest. Sha was able to solidify some solo things and Mud Brothers grew in size, we added Starvin B. Sha got too busy to do a group thing so the Mud Brothers became just me and Starvin B. We put out two small mixtapes, we did OK, moved a couple of units. In the midst of that is when I got the Ron Artest solo deal and I went to do that for five or six years.
Who else did he sign at the time?
Going back to when we all went our separate ways, Chalice and Ruc Da Jackel had went with Ron Artest, he offered them a deal. He always wanted to deal with me but I guess he had people in his ear like, “He’s messing with Sha over here.” So it took him a while to come around, but he got to me. I put out a mixtape, Foul Monday Country, hosted by Kay Slay. That was my only release on the label. I worked on a couple of albums but nothing ever came to fruition. The guy wasn’t really knowledgeable of the music industry and how to do certain things, it just didn’t work out the way it was planned. It’s no love lost though, he tried.
When did you step away from that?
Around 2008, 2009 I stepped away from Tru Warier. I took a little break for a while, you feel a little disillusioned when things are not really going your way and I had three situations that really didn’t go my way, so it was kind of a bummer for me. My man Easily Crippled, he’s another artist out here in Queens, he inspired me to get back in the studio like, “You shouldn’t waste your talent just sitting around.” A lot of people believed in me, so it’s like, “I’ve gotta go for it.” Once you actually get back in the studio it feels good, it’s like riding a bike. It’s something I’m supposed to be doing, whether I make it or not. Around two years ago I really got the bug to start doing music again. Starvin B was making a lot of good music and after hearing his incredible album Something In The Water, I was thinking, “I can do something this good.” Like the eighth grade, he just inspired me again.
Have you ever recorded with Chinky?
We’ve actually got a song together but it’s really, really rough. It’s a good song, but the session was lost and I’ve just got this real shitty mp3 of it, it’s not mixed or anything. That’s just one of the unfortunate things that happened at Tru Warrior – losing songs and having to do them all over again. That was just one session that happened to get lost. A lot of people are like, “You guys are related, why don’t you have a shitload of music together?”
You and Chinky are related?
That’s my first cousin.
The mid 90’s must have been an exciting time in Queensbridge for music.
I remember just walking around Queens with a radio, just getting into shit, vandalizing – all that shit! It was almost a carefree time. I don’t know if the times are different or if I’m older, but it just doesn’t have the same feeling anymore.
When did you start recording stuff with Starvin B?
We had this kid, his name was DJ Sonic Boom. He used to let us come down and rap over instrumentals and he would tape it and put scratches and samples behind it. That was our first introduction into making music, but all that shit was just shit. It was all practice. We didn’t start going into the studio until some time in the 2000’s. In the eighth grade we thought we had to get a deal to get in the studio!
This was before everyone was recording onto laptops?
Dudes coming up would have no idea what it’s like to have to do the whole god damn song in one take, or you’re doing a verse and the guy just completely fucks up and you’ve gotta start up all over again. All that shit has basically been eliminated with computers. All the strife and the hard work and shit. Before that you had guys cutting and pasting tapes out of takes, making hot songs. The struggle is gone, and I believe that’s the key thing that’s missing from hip-hop right now. Nobody’s struggling – and if they are struggling, they’re trying to forget about it, they don’t want to make music about that. You’ve gotta have struggle, cos this shit all came from struggle. I’m not against coming out sounding all happy, but there’s gotta be a balance. There’s gotta be some reality to that shit.
How did you get the name Foul Monday?
Killa Sha gave that to me. The first song I had with Killa Kids, I didn’t have a name so they were saying, “What are we going to put that identifies you?” In a joking manner, he said, “We’re going to put Foul Monday.” Everybody laughed, but then it kinda hit everybody, “That’s kind of a dope name!” It just fuckin’ stuck from there.
What’s your favorite memory of Killa Sha?
We out in Vegas with Marley, and he’s got these two assistants. Two pretty cool guys, and all they kept talking about is, “Prostitution is legal in fucking Vegas!” They actually have brochures for hookers, so they picked this shit up and it has the girls on there and it says $69, $80, shit like that, so they’re thinking that those are the prices for the girls. So these fuckin’ idiots go and call up some girls. They get to the room and she’s like, “What do you guys wanna do?” The guy goes, “You know what we wanna do. What do we get for $70?” “$70? No sweetie, that’s some type of membership fee.” These girls basically wanted $400, so everybody’s freaking out, nobody’s got $400, but there’s another problem – there’s a $125 cancellation fee. Me and Sha look at each other and it’s like, “You know what? We don’t have nothing to do with this!” As we leave the room the elevator doors open and the biggest fuckin’ bald-headed, biker-lookin’ white dude stepped off that elevator and went straight into that fuckin’ room – I guess that was the protection or something – and we almost shit ourselves! We waited for the violence to start, we knew those dudes didn’t have no money. They would’ve had to give those girls at least $250 just to get them out the fuckin’ room, and that Stone Cold Steve Austin guy is clearly there to beat somebody’s ass. I don’t know what they said, but they didn’t get their asses beat. Maybe he just looked at ‘em and saw that they were just tourists. We were telling them from the jump, “Why do you wanna fuck with prostitutes? There are enough drunk women downstairs, betting and drinking!”
You were telling me about how each of the blocks in QB has it’s own personality last time. Can you break that down?
Every block is like it’s own little world out here. Like I’m a Vernon nigga, that’s straight-up QB slang. Anybody from 12th Street is a 12th street nigga wherever you from, that’s how we identify you. Once we hear that, we know how to deal with you, because you might be the stereotypical Vernon dude, or the stereotypical 12th street dude. 41st and 12th street dudes are pretty much your typical scumbags. That’s where all Mobb Deep’s music originates from. I don’t feel comfortable around any of these dudes, cos they’re fuckin’ grimy, and it’s crazy because some of my best friends are from that block. Then you’ve got the 40th side of 12th street, those guys are kinda the same but they’re more low-key. They’re real sneaky scumbags, they keep it more subdued. Those dudes aren’t loud and boisterous idiot hoodlums, they’re real quiet, but they’ll hurt you just as bad as the other five blocks – but they’re not going to announce it to the world first. That would be a 41st side of 12th street dude, “I’mma shot this dude in the head!” Then he goes and shoots him and wonders why he went to jail. Your 41st and 10th street guys, that’s where a lot of athletes came from – Ron Artest – a lotta ball players. My block and the 40th side of Vernon is all the rappers and the comedians and the actors. For some reason that side of the projects is where that particular type of talent came from. Once you go more towards 21st street and further away from the river is where you start getting into the idiots for a lack of a better description. If there was a party of 12th street, we would go but we would be on edge the whole time. There would be a couple of guys there that had some animosity towards us because we lived a block away! Which is something I never got, but I dealt with it cos I gotta live out here. It was always a fuckin’ 12th street idiot fuckin’ up the party. Just fuckin’ loud for no fuckin’ reason.
Who was the guy who started the whole “thun” slang?
It came from my man Bumpy. He’s still around, he owns a barber shop out here. He had a slight speech impediment and he couldn’t really say “son,” cos that was the popular slang word at the time – “Whattup son!” He couldn’t really say it so it came out as “thun.” it’s funny he shit that catches on out here. It originated in this project, and I’ve heard people say that shit in California! It blows my mind.
So the correct spelling is Thun instead of Dun?
You could put dun. I would say dun is more like the cockney ingrained English, where if you’re not from there you don’t know what they’re talking about. But the official spelling is T.H.U.N.
What about “kiko”?
I don’t know where that came from but I think that’s a Queensbridge too. Not for nothing, but a lot of these words originated from 12th street, I’ve gotta give them credit. They ain’t have shit to do but make up words.
Who should we look out for from QB?
There’s a guy, Chef Lau, he’s pretty dope. Ant Live is pretty dope. But there’s a flipside to that, there are a lotta guys out here who are fuckin’ kidding themselves. You’ve got dudes out here doing freestyles to South beats. You’ve already lost, kid, cos I don’t even wanna hear this beat, and you’re talking that same old “bang bang shoot ‘em up” shit. I don’t want to hear that shit already.
If you could make your own version of “The Symphony” who would you pick to join you?
Sean Price, Jay-Z and Black Thought from The Roots. I think that’d be fuckin’ crazy record.
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