Interview: Monalyse on Pusha-T, Detroit & Diligence
Recently, Pusha-T and 1800 Tequila to took Detroit to celebrate the 1800 Seconds featuring local talent for their individuality and unique music. Detroit’s very own Monalyse was given the opportunity to collaborate on a compilation album mentored by the pioneer himself among the ten artists, chosen, giving Monalyse the chance to rep her city. Imani Smith caught up with her backstage before her performance to learn more about what’s coming up for this poet-rapper and lyricist on the rise.
If no one knew who you were and you literally just fell from the sky, how would you describe yourself as an artist to this new world?
Monalyse: I would say that I am a rapper with a strong voice, a strong woman who is very respectful.
PLAYGROUND: Tell us about performing on numerous Detroit stages.
Detroit respects me as a rapper, when they talk about Detroit female rappers who are coming up, I’m always mentioned for the most part. They look at me as a lyricist, and something different to bring to the table [so] I feel like my city is proud of what I do and people tell me all time.
Detroit has been good to me, it’s always love.
Who are some of your influence in Detroit?
Women who get it- women who get it done despite their odds. People who hustle are my inspiration… strong-minded people, because I’m strong-minded and have very strong opinions myself. Sometimes people say I’m intimidating because I have a strong voice, so when I say things I mean it.
You are more than a rapper, you’re a poet as well. In your piece, “I’m her,” you spit some powerful verses. Tell us about how that freestyle came about.
This producer named Chuck played the beat for me, and I wrote something for it in like six minutes. When I write poetry it’s way easier than rap because it doesn’t have to rhyme, it’s just energy.
Right before that someone in the studio was like, “oh you rap?” and he said it real condescending like, ‘oh let me hear something,’ like I had to prove myself to him, like it was going to be whack or something. So I made “I’m Her” like, ‘I’m the sh** and I don’t take sh** from anybody.’
On Instagram, you ‘speak the black girl gospel,’ what does that mean to you?
The black girl gospel is basically relatable things to black girl culture. I have a very strong voice and usually people who have strong voices are symbols of that- like Martin Luther King, it wasn’t just his message, but his conviction. It’s how you say certain words, if you believe what you mean, and say it a certain way it’s the gospel, and people will tune in.
Your latest EP “Diligence” is a solid piece of work. How was creating this new album?
I was in the studio every week. I was given two beats every week and I had to write to them. [For] the inspiration, I didn’t really grab from any one thing, it was more about the moments. It came out really good, each song has a different feel to it.
As an emerging artist, do you feel that you are pretty hard on yourself?
I’m the hardest on myself. People think I’m crazy when I speak about myself…. I see myself being greater in the long run, so comparing myself to where I am right now, yes I am down on myself sometimes. People always say, “you’re great right now” but I always see room for improvement. I feel like it’s a good thing, if you don’t see yourself as greater than you become complacent in where you are artistically, financially or emotionally. If you’re comfortable you become complacent period. I want to be a better version of myself.
Do you usually go in the studio and lay tracks down quickly?
It depends on the vibe, I do better when I don’t have to think too hard. There’s a lot of thought that goes into my lyrics, I usually write my best stuff when I just put it down on paper and rhyme. When I think about the lyrics too much it takes a very long time. The more relaxed and comfortable I feel the easier and more effective I am; I am energy based.
Tell us about your track on 1800 Seconds, “Me & My” seems like a personal track.
To be honest, people in my personal life were getting on my nerves at the time. People were acting a bit funny and I was like, ‘look I will do this with or without you. Either get on the train or get left.’ That’s why I said, “this ain’t a rush but I ain’t waiting on you,” because either you’re going to hustle and get it done- or not, and I’m not rushing you. Go at your own pace, but just know if you don’t put a little pep in your step, then we might have to disconnect. I think that’s important for growth.
How was it working with Pusha-T and the other artists on the 1800 project?
The energy was great. To this day, we all talk to each other and still link up when we can, they went with me to the studio the other night. Pusha-T heard my whole project, he heard my music and really rocks with me- he thinks I’m very talented. He thinks I’m great rapper… to hear that from such an amazing rapper like himself is dope.
With this great opportunity, what are you manifesting for your future career?
I’m in love with words first, and the rhythm second. Words are my first love, I started with poetry, and I want to write fiction books. I think about a lot of situations and I’m very perspective-based, especially in a lot of my music, so I want to put that into literature. I want to inspire with words because people are listening. Crazy thing is- people from all over the world listen to my music, I never would have even thought they would… It’s very inspiring.
Anything else that you want to share with your current and future fans?
I just want to keep furthering my message. I’m still learning and I want to help people. My number one message is about self-worth and teaching people that selfishness is okay sometimes. People always worry about others all the time and being selfish is looked down upon, but to me it’s the best; self love is about putting yourself first. I’m here to show people that it’s okay.
Featured Photo Credit: Cam Kirk
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