Money Stax on Truth in Hip-Hip (interview and download)

Let’s jump right back into the transcript of the interview I did with rapper, Money Stax. You can listen to the interview with the player below or download the podcast for free. This is Part 2 of the transcript, of you missed Part 1, you can go back and read the entire interview from the beginning. Enjoy!

Chase: “I’m hip-hop to the bone and a hip-hop historian but sometimes I feel that I have to apologize for this music. Not all rap music has horrible messages, not all of it is violent or sexist. I don’t think many artists try to censor themselves and think like, ‘Maybe there is a young girl listening and maybe I should try to say something different.’ The fact is that some hip-hop tells girls that they are basically worthless.”

Money Stax: “It’s sad but unfortunately, that is the message that goes out. I would say that back in the day, we heard it more flat out with people calling women ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes.’ I guess I do hear the term ‘bitch’ being thrown about nowadays a lot too. Truth be told, I don’ listen to a lot of that crap. It doesn’t matter who the mainstream person is that’s saying it. I don’t listen to mainstream radio. My life doesn’t include that type of degrading. You don’t have to be a part of it, you know what I’m saying? You don’t have to listen to it. You don’t have to like it. You don’t need to turn on the radio. I think people are gonna be subject to whatever they let themselves be subject to.

I was hoping my spot would take over more of like a Lauryn Hill spot, someone who is respected with their clothes on and can bring about female empowerment, make you feel good about yourself and respect yourself as opposed to buying into the façade that you’re not really worth shit because you are a chick. Stuff that hip-hop talks about now is really not good for females over all.”

Chase: “Yeah, I’m hoping we can start to spread that positive vibe. And I like how The Co-Op doesn’t just mean you and your husband coming together, it means conscious operations. And I think having conscious lyrics and themes in your songs and even yourself, you’re an inspiration and a role model to everybody. That is one of the reasons I wanted to get you on the show. We need to hear more women on the mic.

I think it’s time we heard some more of your music. Let’s spin “You People” by Viscous People. You can check it out and download the album from

Chase: “All right, that was “You People” by Viscous Cycle and we are lucky enough to have Money Stax on the phone right now on DOPEfm for part of our International Women’s Day Special. I hope you’ve been listening all night long because every track and everything we’re doing tonight, everything has been blessed by a woman, and we have one of the dopest females doing it on the mic right now. Money Stax.

I really want to touch on what you were doing with that last track. Earlier in the song you said you were spreading food for thought that’s edible. I love that line. At the end, you say, ‘You people hear what we’re not saying. You still rewind, recite our rhymes, but why?’ and it closes off with the ‘but why?’ What are you asking there? I’m confused.”

Money Stax: “You have been the most perceptive person who has ever interviewed me before on my music, I swear. This is the greatest thing ever because I can talk to you in depth and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I am so glad you brought that up, You are hitting the nail on the head with it.

‘You People’ is a song where Neeky Devaro and I said, ‘Let’s write a song about nothing.’ It means absolutely nothing. We literally picked words out of the clear blue sky that rhymed with each other and made it and said, ‘We’re gonna spit it with so much feeling that people are gonna actually think that it means something.’

You picked up on a particular line but really couldn’t reference anything about what the song was about because it really isn’t about anything except what the hook says, which is, ‘You people must be crazy or lost your minds. And I just can’t decide. You people hear what we’re not saying. You still rewind, recite our rhymes, but why?’

It’s kind of playing with the audience because people listen to whatever is playing on the radio and if it’s catchy, they’ll bob their head and pick up on the hook and repeat it and recite it. And half the time you don’t even know what you are saying, which goes back to the whole female degrading thing, a lot of the times people just like the music and they know all the words because they like the music and they aren’t even thinking about how rude or degrading it is. So with this, we just wanted to play with that.

We purposely made it the lead single for the album, made it super-catchy so people would listen and want to rewind it, but we’re basically telling you in the hook that we are not saying anything.”

Chase: “Wow, that is brilliant! Ya know, sometimes I watch a movie and then I watch the bonus DVD feature and sometimes that gives you an ‘Oh, wow!’ moment. I feels like I just went behind the scenes right now and had one of those ‘Oh, wow!’ moments.”

Money Stax: “You absolutely did. We don’t usually tell that to people. It’s a couple years old now and we might as well tell they people what they’ve got. The one interesting thing about that song and video that really make me like it is that that’s my son and he’s actually on the hook. So the little kid voice you hear on the hook, that’s him. So he’s a part of our music and that keeps us grounded. We’re not gonna go so far this way or that way or talk about certain stuff because we have children and we’re adults and she’s married and I’m married. We want to live a regular lifestyle. We’re just regular people who can rap really good. And not only is my son in that song and in that video, which is a really cool video, but he’s also in the song ‘Recess’ which is on the new Viscous Cycle album and hopefully he’ll get to be in that video as well.”

Chase: “It’s amazing that your family is so involved in your music. You have a group with your husband and you also get your son involved. Does he spit or was he just doing the chorus?”

Money Stax: “He does write his own rhymes. I don’t push him in that arena because being an MC is a very unappreciated art, monetarily and respect wise. We do a lot to make sure our children have everything they need, more than what they need, especially education wise. I just wouldn’t want them to follow a career in music. But, we have a recording studio in the house. Me and my husband rhyme. My best friend rhymes. I’m on a radio show, I was a veejay host for MTV 3. You can’t get away from it, so I’m not gonna tell him he can’t do it, but at the same time, I’m not going to push him into it. But what good is having children who are greatly inclined to music if you can’t utilize them every once in a while for your own projects. He’s really good. He’s a good writer and he’ll probably get into the business for himself one day, unfortunately.”

Chase: “Unfortunately. It’s a shame we have to talk like that because hip-hop is such a great art form and there are so many positives to it and so many things we can do. I’m a project of the golden age of hip-hop.”

Money Stax: “Yeah, back then, lyrics were appreciated and pretty much all you had, which is very important. Words are power. I used to make songs that years afterwards will still have people coming up to me to tell me how much the song meant to them. I made a song twenty years ago about having an abortion, but I’ve never had an abortion and I’m not pro or against it. I just know that I’m pro-choice. Whatever, whichever woman wants to do whatever they want to do. But, personally I wouldn’t choose it because that’s my personal choice. That’s how I have three kids. But at the same time, for years and years after that I had people coming up to me to tell me they could relate to the song, how much the song meant to them and how it helped them get through a difficult time.

I don’t think these newer artists really understand the impact of words because you say things and they are just words to you when you write them but them mean something to someone else. I hadn’t been through that, it kind of didn’t mean anything to me when I wrote it. I listened to the beat and thought, ‘Hey, this is kind of a downer beat and it sounds like I should be talking about something that went bad or an issue that went wrong for me.’ So I just made up a scenario. Little did I know that those words severely impacted so many people.

The thing about the 90s, the golden era, was that your words were all you had. It wasn’t all you had because beats were important too but your words were so important. If your words weren’t correct, then people just didn’t pay attention to you. Not only did what you were saying had to be what they wanted to hear, but your flow and delivery had to be how they wanted to intake it. And that is definitely an art that’s lost at this point. It’s really all about gimmick and flash right about now.”

Chase: “Like you, I get all my hip-hop from underground campus radio, from university stations, and blogs and not from commercial radio or video. I wear underground as if it were a title, ‘Oh, I’m underground!’ It’s a shame that we have it as a title.

I’m getting a little of track of what I wanted to ask. What rappers say, many people in the general audience take as truth. We had the whole keep it real thing so people think what you are saying is 100% truth. You talked about the abortion song you made without actually having that experience. That’s where I wanted to get into the poetics of hip-hop and how this really is a poetic from where the speaker in our poems doesn’t have to be role of the MC or the persona. I think a lot of people don’t see that, and if you do something that’s a little bit outside of your own experience, some people might get thrown by that. You know, you can keep it real by just presenting topics that are important to you and doing it in a different way.

I think the storytelling element of hip-hop isn’t emphasized as much these days. Some people are still telling stories but a lot of people are just throwing stuff together to make it sound good.

Money Stax: “Right, I learned a very valuable lesson about whether rappers are 100% true in lyrics or not when I first started in hip-hop 25 years ago or something, I though the same thing. I don’t know what makes you as a child think that whatever someone is saying is 100% true. I had gotten on to Redman really, really hard when I was a junior in highschool. I thought the sun rose and set on him because of ‘Muddy Waters,’ that was my favourite album. I met him.

I lived in New Jersey, right before I was leaving to go to college, I met him. I met him with a friend of mine and I told him I was going to college soon and she told him that I was his biggest fan. He said, ‘I’ll come back and kick it with you.’ He was the coolest dude EVER! It was the coolest thing EVER.

He came back to meet up with us. We just kicked it and talked but it basically meant the entire world to me. During our conversation, I had asked him, ‘So is everything you say in your music 100% true?’ because at that time I was writing poetry and music but I was only writing things that were true. My mind didn’t conceive being able to write a story from someone else’s point of view or say something that I would never contemplate doing.

Redman said, ‘It’s not all true. Nobody’s music is 100% true.’ and I had to take it in because although being around him for a couple for hours felt literally like ‘Muddy Waters.’ His personality came through that album so hard that when I was with him, I felt that I knew him already. The things that he said were very reminiscent of that last album he had dropped at the point I’d met up with him.

It definitely opened my eyes to what being a musician is all about. It also helped me realize that everything people say isn’t always 100% true. And then as I grew as an MC I understood that you could write something from someone else’s perspective. Sometime you are gonna write a story that isn’t something you have done but maybe something you would do if you were put in that situation, or something you think you would do. It doesn’t necessarily need to be 100% true as in I did it and now I’m saying it and it just makes it solid or the truth. It’s not like that. There’s definitely an art form to it.

It’ s a poetry thing as well, which a lot of people don’t associate with hip-hop anymore but when I was growing up hip-hop and poetry were hand-in-hand with each other. When you listen to a poet, you don’t expect every poem to be about them.”

Chase: “I know certain MCs wear what’s like a mask. Their MC persona is almost larger than life, like comic book hero kind of stuff as opposed to a regular everyday MC.”

Money Stax: “Yeah, when you look at somebody like 50 Cent, I don’t listen to him but my husband does, and he’ll drop music currently that says he will kill somebody. But we all know 50 Cent isn’t gonna kill anybody now. Maybe he would have ten or fifteen years ago he would have killed somebody, but he’s making too much money, why would he do that now?

Anybody making real money off of this and doing the real business and saying stuff like, ‘I’ll kill you,’ or ‘I’m swinging all this weight.’ Just think about it. It doesn’t make any sense that they’d put themselves out there like that when they are already making way more than they need to make off of their craft. It’s just a way to attract people who want to hear that crap. There’s always gonna be a large quotient of people enlightened by fancy cars, and jewelry, and drug dealers, and whatever other lifestyle that comes along with it. To the rappers that are willing to jump into that arena and either act like they do that or draw on previous experiences to make it seem like it’s cool to do that now, you’re gonna gain the respect of people like that.

The storytelling thing is a gift and a curse because you can tell a story about an abortion that can help people through hard times or you can tell a story about being a drug dealer and possibly get kids to want to be just like you. So it’s a messed up gift and a curse.”

Chase: “For sure, and I think part of the problem is that it’s not really called attention to. I like to bring that up with my students to let them know that this is just as fake as wrestling and you just have to take it for what it is. So hopefully people are listening to the conscious lyrics out there and artists like you. Sometimes you do want the fluff though. I’m just a lyric head. I just want to hear lyrics over good beats with a nice flow.”

Money Stax: “That’s me all day. If someone can do that for me, I’m good.”

Download this show for free or stream it with the player below. And don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read Part 3.

Read Part 3

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