Photos courtesy of Monie Love
It’s good to know that there are some women who are still putting ladies first. As someone who was at the forefront of the women in Hip-Hop movement, Monie Love contributed much to the culture. But whether she’s behind the mic, holding it down on a radio show, or merely preserving the legacy of classic Hip-Hop, the mom of four has served as a powerful voice in the community for over twenty years. Mommynoire’s Kim Osorio caught up with the Hip-Hop icon to talk about motherhood, her work in the community, and of course, Hip-Hop.
So what have you been up to these days?
There’s been a resurgence in classic Hip-Hop bookings. I’ve been doing that quite a lot and it’s been keeping me away from home. I’ve been in Miami for four years, and I’m constantly flying out to go perform. I do a lot of shows with Kwame, Chubb Rock, Naughty By Nature, Special Ed, and Nice-n-Smooth.
Wow. That is undeniably Hip-Hop. What are those shows like?
They are an eye opener. Honestly. We’re going to theaters the size of Westbury Music Theater and bigger. Those places are filling up. People that have grown up within the culture, when they hear about these shows, they plan to go to these events. They have their outfits ready. Some of them bring their kids to the concert. They’re awesome. People cherish periods of their life so much. The music that encompasses that time span in their life. When they get an opportunity, they are going. They’ve all been properly promoted, six weeks to two months prior to the event.
It’s great to know that you guys are still out there doing shows. It must be a great feeling to know there’s still so much support for classic Hip-Hop.
Overseas, I had a big show in London. They turned it into a homecoming for me. I was speechless. I wasn’t the headliner, EPMD was the headliner. But they gave me such a warm welcome, like, Monie’s coming home. There was a flock of press there that nailed me. You don’t really realize how important time is to these people.
What’s performing like for you on stage these days?
I’m an animal. It’s ridiculous. I run around the stage like a mouse that just got out of the cage. I start pop locking, doing all this b-girl stuff. It’s, like, when I’m with the kids, driving them back and forth every day, when I get on stage, I get a chance to release all of it. I get on stage and I get to be a kid for 30 minutes.
Have your kids come out to watch you perform?
Yes, they came with me to the Tom Joyner family reunion. They enjoyed that. The two smaller ones have been on stage with me. Laci and Nekhi were on stage with me and we did “Ladies First.”
Is it hard being away from the kids when you have to go perform?
The guys will always not mind getting later flights. I’m a 6 a.m. flight chick. I don’t want to be away from my kids any longer than I have to be. If I’m not working, I don’t need to be there.
So for those who don’t know, how old are your kids and what are their names?
Charlena is 23. Caleigh is 17. Nekhi is 11. Laci is 6.
It seems like your kids’ ages are spread out, almost as if you had to start all over again with each one. There are big gaps of, like, six years between them all.
It really is. First of all, there was no strategic planning for that. It was life circumstances. The first two were from my first marriage. Then I got divorced. My son is from the second marriage. I got divorced after that. And my little one is from my current relationship. It all just went according to the temperature of my life at the time. I wanted to enjoy my life in between. Some women think it makes sense to get them all out at the same time. And I get that. But I didn’t plan mine. Starting over every time was almost like, I took with me the good parts of what I learned, but I enjoyed going through the learning process again. In between every child, I didn’t skip anything, I wanted everything. I wanted the shower, I wanted to go to Lamaze class, I wanted to go to the baby conventions and learn about all the new baby products. I didn’t cheat myself each time.
I would ask you how hard it is to juggle being a mom and having a career, but every mom has that struggle. How is that struggle different in Hip-Hop though?
Honesty. The juggling is the least of your worries. As a mother in Hip-Hop, as far as time span and booking obligations, that type of stuff just like any other mother in any business, you figure it out. You find yourself a pattern and you get into it. You find yourself a reliable string of resources. That part is easy. The part of being a mother in the realms of hip-hop culture, and rap music, the challenge that I find is not to be a hypocrite to my kids. There is a lot of expression through music called hip-hop. Songs come on the radio, I’m like ‘oh, you can’t listen to that,’ especially when they get older. We had Luke back in the day. We had Salt ‘N Pepa talking about sex. Let’s not be hypocrites in relation to what gets played on the radio, I have to be careful not to walk that line of hypocrisy with my children. I will say this, though. When Hip-Hop was getting played on the radio [in our day], we were only getting two days a week and four hours a night, so kids weren’t getting in the car on the way to school hearing graphic, sexual lyrics.
You’ve been involved in giving back to the community, as I’ve seen you promoting things like that on social media. Tell me more about your “Let Girls B-Girls” project?
I am using visual persuasion to reintroduce young girls to their innocence. Things have gotten so crazy that the template for your girls, even starting at kindergarten, the template of being popular, being liked, these things seem to be related directly to falsifying yourself. Some going so far as wanting injections. It’s serious among our little girls. They feel unattractive, like they need to be dressed up like Twitter or Facebook models. Girls are feeling like they are going to be undesired and they’re going to be laughed at, if they don’t look like that.
Things have changed so much from when we were young…
Everyone had her own thing back in the day. It wasn’t so cookie cutter when we went to school. I had started putting out visual and in the process of closing out and solidifying this non-profit and allowing girls to “BGirls.” I already have “Ladies First,” which provides opportunity for female performers. I formed that non-profit for female performers, empowering women in the arts, to inspire women everywhere. “Let Girls B-Girls” specifically deals with mentoring our young girls to recondition their minds and reintroduce them to the concept of innocence. It belongs to them. With pop culture, they’re being rushed out of their innocence. It’s basically to encourage us to partner with like-minded folks to put together mentoring programs nationwide. Let’s wipe out this “bad b%#@h” concept. I hate to see these girls calling each other “bad b%#@hes.”