Chicago hip-hop artist Drunken Monkeee doesn’t have a filter and isn’t afraid to admit he has struggled with mental illness. He is the type of artist who will make “heads” yearn for the return of the authenticity of hip-hop opposed to the fake images that are so commonplace throughout the internet, television, and radio. A lot of time conscious artists don’t get the shine that they deserve and Drunken Monkeee definitely falls into that category. An artist who was once turned down for a record deal because his music was considered too “happy”. He has a documentary circulating the film festival circuit called No Manual Included which documents his struggles with mental health and he is as candid as they come.
When did you develop a passion for hip hop?
To be honest I developed a passion for serious hip hop in 1999. It was a turning point when I got into African dance my senior year. Once I got into African dance that kind of culturally opened me up where my African dance teacher was taking me out the hood and taking me all over and then I started experiencing the hip hop culture downtown. Then once I heard the Aquemni album it really did something to me. I always was a fan of good music but I wouldn’t go out and buy a KRS-One album, I’d buy Master P over KRS-One but I respected that he was the big brother of hip hop. ’99 was when I started really embracing the culture and became a hip hop junkie.
On your song “You God” you have a lot of things on your mind, can you talk about the process of creating that song and eventually the video?
With the “You God” I never been shy of being an open book. When I created the “You God” thats when I had just got diagnosed with bipolar and schizophrenia and just had recently came out of a mental hospital but I wasn’t nowhere crazy like they say a person with those symptoms are too put in a mental hospital. I’m a very spiritual person and that was me calling out to the Most High and being an open book. That was around the time one of my famous cousins on the hip hop scene we had just started working together and he started mentoring me because he knew I was going through a lot and he was like”yo, you should make more music like this.” I was like “fuck that, I’m not in a place to act like I’m turning up and everything is good. No, I want to make a testimonial type of album and take people inside the mind of what real artists really go through instead of just popping bottles, getting money.” I wanted to be an open book. When I heard the beat, I’m the type of emcee I don’t just write to a beat, I meditate and let the music tell me what to do. So I listened to the sample and its an older gentleman talking to the Most High so that was me playing a game of chess with God. God I’m doing everything they said I’m supposed to do but I’m out here struggling. I’m hurting. I got bipolar depression and trying to get help. It’s an open confession of mental illness.
Your known for your live shows , what was your most memorable live performance?
Number one was my senior year of high school where I got over my fear of performing. I wanted to be nominated best body Class of ’98 but I always had a big stomach. Our African dance teacher wanted us to do a dance with coconut oil all over our body. I’m looking like a big rotisserie chicken. My reputation was on the line so I was scared. My African dance teacher Ms. Blackburn was like “those little girls are looking at your chest hairs, they ain’t gone be worried about your stomach. As soon as I got out there, you know how it is in high school the freshman in the back, then sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the front. We come out the back I’m dancing and the freshman like “look at his fat ass, big ass titties.” They were roasting but as I made my way to the front it was something that came over me. If I could perform naked like this I could perform for the rest of my life.
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