Every now and then you come across a group like K.L.U.B. Monsta that goes out of their way to represent their hometown to the fullest. In this interview, they tell us why it’s important to maintain hometown love and how they have evolved.
CG: How did you guys get your name?
Air Talley: We went through various names for the group. We started off with “Monsters, Inc”; inspired from the movie Monsters, Inc and then we moved to “Monsta”. Finally, Kel and I decided to go with “K.L.U.B. Monsta”. “K.L.U.B.” means “Knowledge Learned Under Birmingham”. However, the “monsta” means that everything we do is vicious; the lyrics, handling the mic, the flow, the performances. It’s not that we’re from the streets, but when it comes to our craft – we are monstas. The “K.L.U.B.” part brings out the concept of how we complement each other and our brotherhood.
CG: You guys complement each well. How did you meet?
Kel: Joshua, Air Tally and I went to the same high school together (Holy Family) and the rest is history. We would freestyle and Air Talley and I would pass raps around to each other. Joshua really didn’t get into music until after we graduated. He [Joshua] got on a couple of songs with us and then we met J. Dotta through a mutual producer. Pretty much after that, we all linked up together.
CG: How important is Birmingham as an influence to your music?
Kel: I think it’s real important. We have a lot of artists make it from the state [Alabama], but not from Birmingham. When you look at the history of Birmingham, dealing with the civil rights movement and the things going on, you can see just how rich our history is. There’s a lot of slang that we use that refers back to our city.
CG: You guys use Tig Knight to shoot your videos and local Birmingham producers. How important is the loyalty to the talent in Birmingham?
J. Dotta: With the status of where we are currently at, it is very important to use Birmingham talent. We have a lot of talent that is being overshadowed by stereotypes. We want to venture out and build on what we have, but loyalty means a great deal to us. We make good music so if someone can help us with our sound, then we can work together. If there is anybody out there that we can help get out there, then we are going to help.
CG: How do you feel about the current state of hip hop in Alabama?
Jousha: It’s growing and has been for a while. There are a lot of talented people here from different genres and with diverse sounds. You can see it range from Alabama Shakes to G-side. It’s a lot of good music here to go around.
CG: The name of the mixtape is Separate but Sequel. Jim Crow was about separation within the South. With you having a unique Southern sound, do you feel like there is a Jim Crow mentality amongst hip hop?
Air Talley: We know that we are different and unique. Our community is yearning for what we bring to the table. When we make a song about the struggle and the Black experience, we’re going to come unorthodox. We knew we were going to fly under the radar, but I feel that we get great reception. We don’t talk about bricks or any clichés; we step out of the box.
CG: How did you guys hook up with DJ Burn One?
Jousha: We recorded with B-flax and he [DJ Burn One] had done projects with him. Because of that relationship, we were able to reach out to Burn and get on Blvd Street.
CG: “Office Space” is one of my favorite tracks off of the mixtape. Do you feel some mainstream artists need to “put in their two-week notice”?
Kel: You got to work to get into the studio. You gotta go out there to get your dreams.
CG: This question is also for you Kels. I have watched all of your videos and looked at all of your group photos and artwork. Why you always looking sad, bro?
Kel: (laughing) Man, that’s just my demeanor. You have to get to know me. I’m actually the comedian of the group. Since you said that, for our next video, I promise that I will be all smile and giggles.
CG: O.k., I’m going to hold you to that. How did you guys feel about getting featured on “Bump in the Whip” section of Dead End Hip Hop?
Jousha: I search different blogs and I have great respect for you guys. You guys have great discussions. The one on Big Krit really won me over. I love what you guys do for hip hop. You do more than post music and help to break artists. We thank you guys for the opportunity. We want to take the time to thank you and all the people who have listened to the new mix tape.