West Coast Hip Hop Has a New Monsta, He’s Sober and He’s Roaring Load!
Out on the West Coast there is a new sound coming out of Santa Barbara that is shaking Southern California. Part rap / Hip Hop, part punk and part – just about everything else – Monsta Mash is bringing the energy in 2017, preparing to tour California to the Midwest with Snoop Dogg’s Dogg Pound and working locally with Katy Perry’s posse (Elliot Lanam and attorney Justin Fox – Dishwalla front man) to create a new blend of high energy punk-rap that will knock your socks off.
Mash, an LA born rapper from the notorious 213, started rapping at the age of 10, in 1984, when rap music was in it’s infancy. Then, a sixth-grader, Mash and three school friends formed a nameless rap group to perform Lottie-Dottie by Slick Rick and Doug-E Fresh for a school talent show at Joe A. Gonzalves Elementary School in Cerritos, CA. The group took first place in the talent show but only Mash and DJ KCT would go on to form their group Project One as the kids all went to different junior high schools. By 9th grade young Monsta, then going by the nickname MARK-E, was recording at studios around the country, and like his idols NWA who had formed Ruthless Records was inspired to form his own Record Label Project Records and release the group’s first 12” single on vinyl. The teenager traveled the country performing his tracks to crowds and radio audiences, opening for Candyman, Father MC, Def Jeff, Brotherhood Creed, Dick Dale and others. Eventually Mash was represented by Todd Singerman (Motorhead, Extreme, Anthrax) and legendary 60’s San Francisco music attorney Brian Rohan (Carlos Santana, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, Jefferson Airplane, The Pogues, etc.) and performed on late night shows with Rick Dees and Arsenio Hall.
So, now some 30 years have lapsed and Mash is back with a new name, a new sound and a new attitude about life. So what happened? Where did he go for so long? After a rocky couple of decades battle with substance abuse, Monsta did everything from being a radio DJ, to being a youth pastor, to being a drug addict, homeless, college student, camera man for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, TV producer of 12 national TV shows to now a Straight Edge Punk Rapper on a mission to tell his life story to anyone who will listen. Monsta Mash is an insane and prolific songwriter, recording artist and performer but now has found his direction in life and wants to warn young people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse.
His first three singles, Stay on Edge (feat. Maddie & Tae), Waitin’ for tha’ Rain (feat. J BOOG) and One Day U (feat. Blair Calaway “Hersh”) were released to the Internet across all platforms simultaneously in December 2016. Monsta’s label, Atomic Lawn Records sites the release as a sign of the times where the drive and demand of “singles” sales on iTunes and the demand for sites like Spotify and Pandora to play only the most popular tracks, led management to trim the fat so-to-speak. According to The Gallery group who manage the artist, “we picked through about 100 recordings and picked three. In today’s marketplace, less is more,” when responding to why the artist did not release a mix-tape or EP.
However, Monsta is currently working on his first EP with Grammy nominated engineer producer, Elliot Lanam (Katy Perry, Prism Album) and promises that this EP will be unexpected and special. Monsta is planning to do a completely unplugged rap EP, borrowing musicians from some of Santa Barbara’s most well-known bands to create something that has a Jack Johnson, Violent Femmes and Sublime ring to it. At least three of the tracks will be recreations of his old music and Mash will be working with the very beautiful and talented Lina Loi, who recently worked with Chris Brown and has an astonishingly powerful R&B/Soul voice. About the EP, Mash said, “I really wanted to show my versatility on this EP and I absolutely love unplugged music. I don’t want to stick to the prototypical cookie-cutter rapping to tracks style that I grew up on. It’s time for me to break out of the mold and show the world what I can really do here. I am a rapper, a singer, a writer and a performer who does not want to be limited. It’s time to shake things up. I wanna rap and then rock out on stage. Pace and then stage dive and mosh and I want people to mosh to acoustic guitars and 808 kick drums! Us Straight Edger’s ain’t no joke. I hope you’re all ready. This music is going to move you.”
Mash was introduced to Straight Edge in 1996 while putting on punk shows at a coffee shop, Skurvy’s Café in Atascadero, California that he owned. It would take almost 20 years of addiction to weed, cocaine, alcohol and meth – a divorce, estranged family, homelessness, overdosing, going in and out of jail, almost dying and all but destroying an chance at a real music career to come full circle to sobriety. “I tried AA and that was OK, but it just did not work for me long-term. One day I woke up in a real bad place, strung out on crystal meth and I really wanted to get my life together. I prayed to God to help me. Suddenly I was reminded of those punkers with the X’s on my hand. I said out loud, ‘today I am Straight Edge forever.’ So I bought a tattoo gun and tattooed three X’s on my left wrist and the rest is history. This is my life now and there is no turning back. Drugs and alcohol are so overrated but honestly cigarettes are the most overrated of them all. They don’t actually do anything and I find that amazing that people still get suckered by those greedy stupid tobacco companies,” quips Mash.
Straight Edge began in 1981 with the song “Straight Edge,” by Minor Threat which are considered by most to be the founders of the Straight Edge movement which basically stands for no drugs, no alcohol and no cigarettes. For the first three decades the Straight Edge movement was almost completely dominated by the Punk and Hardcore bands but Mash insists that Straight Edge is taking on a whole new look and sound. Mash insists that more mainstream rap and pop artists are on their way. Mash says, “it’s not so much that we are telling people to become saints and to not drink or smoke weed so much as it is a group of people, like myself, who see the world going to shit, young people losing their lives, their dreams and their futures because of drugs and alcohol and we’re sick of seeing it. It’s like lambs to the slaughter.” Monsta Mash has also made it clear that he will not be taking this new brand of “Born Again” Straight Edge to the smaller Straight Edge masses but to mainstream masses where the message can be received rather than just preaching to the choir. Mash is putting his money where his mouth is by going on tour in 2017 with the God Mother of Funk and Snoop Dogg’s Dogg Pound Gang to perform the Monsta Mash brand of Straight Edge music in weed filled halls, clubs and concert venues. Mash insists that, “contrary to maybe popular belief, the Dogg Pound is very much about the young people and very much behind this message. It’s not really an odd fit at all and our first show was amazing. We kicked off some serious hectic ballistic missile shit in Inglewood, California. There was nothing but love. Good music is good music and fun is still fun whether you are fucked up or not. I’m sober, not dead. We still party like it’s 1999 like we’re making Prince proud!”
To hear Monsta Mash, aka The Hogg Father, aka Marklin (Like every rapper, he’s got nicknames) on Spotify, go to:
Or watch the new music video on YouTube: