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Interview: Monsta Ma$h – Old Face to Hip Hop, The New Face of Straight Edge

Monsta Ma$h, the much talked about unsigned rapper out of Santa Barbara has a new music video for his first single, “Stay on Edge” featuring country singers Maddie and Tae, that has already made waves and ripples among rap music fans, reaching over a half million views on YouTube since the midnight Halloween 2016 release just 3 weeks ago. Ma$h is what is considered by Straight Edge Worldwide, in a recent tweet, to be the next big name on the Straight Edge scene following ranks with wrestler CM Punk.

Jamsphere: I am looking over your material and I just watched your music video and I am thinking to myself, “where does an artist like this come from?” I mean, this project has a very different vibe than anything I have seen or heard in hip hop and I am not just saying this to pump your ego but this is a very original piece of artistry.

Monsta Ma$h: Thank you. I appreciate that coming from you. I consider my sound and music styles to be more of a reflection of my life’s journey, spiritual, educated but also a lot of Hard (k)Nox. We are the sum of all our parts really and with music, as artists, we have the unique opportunity to not only entertain people but to take audiences on our journey to show them what we have learned through our experience as humans and as high frequency functioning beings in an intricate universe who’s fabric is carefully woven together by an extreme higher power with a purpose, whom I am ever striving to understand.

Jamsphere: Very interesting answer. So, as I am watching the video there are several things that I see. There seems to be a very supportive group around you and Santa Barbara seems to be a very central piece to your puzzle. When I think of rap music, I don’t think of Santa Barbara necessarily, but I also here Katy Perry’s music at the beginning of the video and I realize that she is from Santa Barbara, how do you see this all playing out?

Monsta Ma$h: Yes, Santa Barbara is a very important piece of my puzzle. I was born and raised in Los Angeles but was sort of adopted by Santa Barbara, I guess. I love this place and make no mistake; this is Katy’s (Perry) town. I love Katy and her music and we are proud of her for what she has become, one of the greatest pop artists of this generation, and grateful for the groundwork that she laid, putting Santa Barbara on the map in such a hellified way. There have been many great bands who have come from this town and I count it a privilege to be named among them, as the first rapper. I was introduced to Katy’s music far before she became the super star that she is, which makes it that much more special and coming out with my first music video, I felt that the only proper way to pay her homage was to include the “This is How We Do,” soundtrack to the intro, to remind people that Santa Barbara is and always will be Katy country.

Jamsphere:  I see in my notes that you worked with Katy’s producer and others on this first single. Tell me about that.

monsta-mah-350Monsta Ma$h: Yes, that is true. I worked with the incredible Elliot Lanam at Hidden City Recording in Santa Barbara, who was not the producer but rather the sound engineer on Katy Perry’s Roar album. Elliot is an amazing producer though and I fully took advantage of his talents and input on the first two tracks that we laid on this project. I knew how good he was but I didn’t want to pump his head too much so I played it cool.  It was the fastest session of my career. It was all business from the second we met up in the studio. No nonsense. I had notes upon notes, had already recorded a rough draft of the two songs that I practiced in preparation. We set aside a three-hour block, and it is hard to get in with this guy. He is very busy. We got right down to business, he directed me line by line and the first song was finished in about 30 minutes. The next song was finished in about the same time. I left the song in his hand and let him work his magic. It was a beautiful experience. Recently we just acquired our new music attorney Justin Fox who has also recently worked with Katy. I think I am seeing a trend here. Justin is the attorney for rock legend Eric Burdon (House of the Rising Sun) and many around here know him as the front man and lead singer of the 90’s band Dishwalla.

Jamsphere:  Wow, this sounds very impressive and you are doing this all without management and going to school full time?

Monsta Ma$h: Yes, that is correct. Education is a very important tool in life. I consider myself a student at all times but I am finishing my Associates degree at Santa Barbara City College in Film Studies this year and I have applied to UCSB and UCLA for film.

Jamsphere:   and you said in your press release that you had a lot of problems in school growing up?

Monsta Ma$h: Yes, I did. I was a hyper kid with ADHD and dyslexia who never got along with authority figures so I spent more time in the principle’s office and playground than I did in class. I got kicked out of my junior high, three high schools, was banned from field trips and riding the school bus and it was a real mess for my parents trying to raise me.

Jamsphere:   But you pulled it together and it’s never too late, right?

Monsta Ma$h: Yes, It took me over a decade to get a 2 year degree but yeah, I guess it’s never too late. The sober Mark Mash is kicking ass.

Jamsphere:   Yes, the sober Mark Mash. Please tell me about being a Straight Edge artist. You are what is considered to be “Born Again” Straight Edge, what is that?

Monsta Ma$h:  Becoming a Straight Edge artist was probably one of the best things that I could have ever done. After 20 years of hardcore drug abuse, the only answer for me was Hardcore sober living. Programs like AA are nice but not for me. I did not want to make excuses for myself or for my bad choices in life. I wanted to nip this problem in the butt in one nice swoop and lay it to rest forever. I knew that I really had an opportunity to do something great, something that could help people who are struggling, something to really be proud of, but the only way to do that was to go cold turkey. So I stopped drinking, stopped using all drugs and stopped smoking cigarettes. I bought a tattoo gun on Amazon for $100.00 bucks and tattooed X’s on my left arm, then a bunch of other stuff and I was set. Those X’s tell the world that this is what I stand for and it is a lifelong decision. There is a real drug and alcohol problem in this world and there needs to be more artists that are not afraid to stand up and scream about it. People are losing their lives. Selfish tobacco companies are giving people cancer for profits. Mothers and grandmothers are crying themselves to sleep at night, worried about their children, scared to death that the phone will ring and it will be the police or coroners office baring awful news. So, while we are here to make hit music that moves people, we are also here to remind them that we are doing this sober.

Jamsphere:  That’s pretty heavy and I see that your first performance as the Monsta Ma$h is this next Saturday, December 3 with Snoop Dogg’s crew, Tha Dogg Pound, obviously not a Straight Edge venue. How is that going to play out?

Monsta Ma$h:  Yes, this is true. I will be opening up with my long time rap partner, Johnny Quest, formerly of the group Red Zone and now with Soul Cracka. We will be opening up for The God Mother of Funk, Snoop’s cousin and we are blessed to be starting this new era with the 213’s finest. This is one of hip hop’s greatest families and we all get along great. Being Straight Edge really doesn’t have much to do with it. We are all great artists gathering to rock the house down and there will be at least 13 great acts there that I know of already. It’s gonna be a great night and Snoop might roll through. Johnny and I are no strangers to the scene, we both battled our addictions and demons for some time but we are not trying to crawl under a rock, we sit at the VIP table and take car keys from people or hold hair while fems throw up. In the limo everybody will be smoking out. It don’t bother us none. We’ll be right there having fun and nobody will probably even know.

Jamsphere:  You complained that drugs and alcohol almost destroyed this new sober driven project and your music video. What happened?

Monsta Ma$h: Yes, it did. At every step of this new process there were studio sessions, musicians, and music video shoots that went horribly wrong and always due to drugs and alcohol. It was sickening to have to watch it happen. I lost longtime friendships during the construction of this project. People would flake out, show up late, show up drunk, show up high, show up drunk and high, or not show up because they forgot, or they were so inebriated that they just did not care. At one point we had a $140,000 Jaguar and a big raised jeep driven up from LA to shoot FaithyJ’s music video scene, she also came all the way up from LA. Our cameraman James V had been up for 3 days on Meth and was drunk for the shoot. We had to pick him up because he could not drive. Then when we got there he cried and whined the whole time that he wanted to go back home. In the end, I was embarrassed; we did not get the shots that we needed. The few shots that he go were so bad that they were laughable but Faith is a very busy girl, as are the car handlers and our budget was tight so we had to use what little we got. He was supposed to get promo shots with myself and Faith to use for promos of the music video, so those did not happen, so her shots do not look as good as they should, she loses promotion. When people do this shit, everyone pays the price. Then our drone cameraman, who is a very good friend, missed almost every shoot, so we only ended up with one brief overhead shot in front of the mansion in the video. One Saturday he showed up to film the low rider cars and he was so drunk and high that he almost ran the drone into a 1959 Ford custom paint job so we kicked him off set. After the shoot we went to find him and he was passed out snoring in the bushes with the drone sitting on his chest. Evidently he flew the drone into the bushes and when he went to retrieve it he got dizzy, fell down in the small bushes and passed out. This was around 11:00 AM in the morning. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. So, yeah, we have adopted a much stricter drug and alcohol policy around here and I hate the smell of cigarettes so those had to go too!

Jamsphere:  Geez! So, do you prefer being an unsigned underground rapper or is the Monsta Ma$h looking for a label deal?

Monsta Ma$h: Oh no, since I was a kid I have wanted to sign with a major label and that is really where we are heading. I am not an underground artist but rather a mainstream artist. I want to collaborate with producers and artists to learn everything I can and to hone my craft. I want to cross over with artists of other genres and experiment with sounds. I want to make live music with a big band, you know, drums, guitars, a DJ scratching vinyl, trumpet and flute players, giant timbre drums, bagpipes, accordions and a kids choir or mass choir. I want to do it all. I really consider myself a bandleader and a filmmaker and all of that costs money. This is what a big label can afford, that we can’t.  I have ideas for music videos that are Michael Jackson-esque.

Jamsphere:  Have you spoken with labels? Do you have a preference?

Monsta Ma$h: Yes, we have spoken with parties at three major labels and we will be doing our first showcase for Atlantic Records on December 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, so we are very excited to show them our stuff. My dream since I was a kid was to be at Capitol Records and we have been having conversations with someone over there who runs a smaller label on their bill. I remember my parents driving down the 101 freeway in LA as a kid and I would always jump to attention around the Vine/Gower exits to watch the famous Capitol Records tower go by and I would tell my parents that someday I would be signed there! Hey, old dreams die hard, but really we will be happy wherever ever we land and will work very hard to make our relationship the best working relationship that it can be. Now that we are focused the sky is the limit.

Jamsphere:   Congratulations and good luck!

Monsta Ma$h: Thank you my man!

Jamsphere:   OK, favorite TV show?

Monsta Ma$h: 2 Broke Girls

Jamsphere:  Favorite food?

Monsta Ma$h: I love everything. Love to eat – Italian food always, then Mexican

Jamsphere:  Favorite rapper? Rap group?

Monsta Ma$h: Curtis Blow! Haaaaaa   I dunno. Too many to list. Of course NWA, Dre and whatever his magic fingers ever touched – Above the Law, DOC, Eminem, Michel’e, Snoop, Tupac, Whateva’s cleva. I mean, lists like this can get dangerously time consuming. Once you start name dropping, it’s like Pringles, once you pop you can’t stop. You leave someone off and then one day you get shot!!! Ha ha ha I always loved Eric Sermon of EPMD, that’s going back.

Jamsphere:  Favorite Band?

Monsta Ma$h: Probably still No Doubt and Sublime. I watch Gwen’s 90’s concert films like it’s game day footage for a playoff game. Gwen was and still is a sexy ass beast!

Jamsphere:  Yeah. Beatles or Rolling Stones

Monsta Ma$h: Elvis Presley baby. Big fan of the king.

Jamsphere:  Ha. Gotcha. Is there anything else you would like to say real quick?

Monsta Ma$h: Hmmm, Yes…I would like to give a shout out to my crew, Hard (K)Nox Family, everyone who pulled for me and helped me to make this project a reality – The camera and production people on the music video, all of the actors, actresses and models – Lauren Babreé, Jess Brown, Meridian Medina, Sarah Anticouni, Avi K. Garg, Johnny V, Paul Bodnar, Victoria Mesa Bodnar and the music family Johnny Quest, Young Vin, FaithyJ, DJ Frank Ramirez, Soul Cracka’, Neal Suva for hooking me up with Elliot Lanam and Hara Humberd for introducing me to Justin Fox and Osiris Castenada for helping to get the music video started. I really appreciate you guys putting up with my craziness.

Jamsphere:  It was a pleasure having you and I look forward to seeing and hearing great things.

Monsta Ma$h: Thank you Rick. I love your site and I appreciate you having me. Thank you.


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