Richmond rapper Monday Night is making waves around the country, from writeups in Pitchfork to props from Earl Sweatshirt. He’s affiliated with local leading lights Scheme Team and Mutant Academy. So why aren’t we seeing his name at the top of the bill more often? Hip Hop Henry sat down with him to get the lowdown.
If you aren’t familiar with the East End’s own Monday Night, who is a member of Scheme Team along with Fly Anakin, Big Kahuna OG, 3way Slim & Gray Matter, it is absolutely time to tap in with one of the current frontrunners of the underground hip hop scene; not just in VA but the entire rap game. He’s received recognition from luminaries like The Alchemist, cooperated alongside Mutant Academy, and worked with Griselda. He even got a writeup in Pitchfork last year. This year, he followed up the three projects he released last year with a collab project with Russo Beats, Dance With The Goombas. And he’s always got new singles dropping — keep up with his Bandcamp for the latest.
I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Monday Night about his music process, music output, trips to LA & NYC, and performing in his own city. Here’s our conversation.
HipHop Henry: It’s been a while since we last talked. Scheme Team is still going strong, the content has been steady. So let’s talk about the past year for you.
Monday Night: I’ve been doing the same thing, like me and Earl Mack was just talking about it, a rinse and repeat thing. Just switching it up. Different variations. Do the song, promote the song. You put it out. trying to go harder than people, putting more stuff out at a time. But for the most part, man, I just really been rapping, I’ve been honing my craft and trying to master what I do and try to find my specific sound, establish that and then go off and try to figure out other things to do.
HH: You said since you started; how long has that been?
MN: Probably since like… early 2018. Okay. So I ain’t been rapping long at all. Right. Like if you want to call it three and a half years long, then yeah, three and a half years. Probably like around the ending in 2017, going into 2018.
HH: So in three years you put out a lot of work. Let’s talk about the work ethic: Scheme Team, Mutant Academy…
MN: It’s because of them, for real man. I’m gonna be honest. Like if I never got around their energy, I don’t know if I’d have been going that hard. We’re putting stuff out and just being proactive, and like, going to the next thing, you know what I mean? Not harping on nothing. Just like, all right, [that’s] it. Move on to something else, doing something else.
HH: Right. So how do you feel about some people who think the music is being released too fast, and want time to digest and process what they hear?
MN: Well, I would say just self-awareness. It’s about knowing how many people listening to you. It’s cool to let it digest if you’ve got a million listeners, you know what I mean? You kinda gotta let them get it, and let them sit with it. But it’s like, if you’re not super lit, or if you’re not lit at all, I feel like you should be trying to beat it down people’s heads. I feel like you should be trying to beat people up there with [your music]. Some people’s audience are like, cult followings, and they don’t care that you released that much. They want you to release that much, because they’re gonna listen to all of it, right? They don’t give a fuck. But you should know what your fans want after years of doing it. You should kind of know what the fans want from you. And if you haven’t known, that means you ain’t paying attention enough. That’s how I feel.
HH: True. Also this past year, with the pandemic and things getting crazy, you put out a couple of solid projects.
MN: I put out Holly Favored [with Foisey], S. Block Carter, Shark Report [with Big Kahuna OG], that’s three. Including all the singles — mad singles, too. I did mad shit during the pandemic, it was like a gift and a curse for everybody. It was a little bittersweet, you know, because you get to sit back for a second and really look at the shit. Instead of moving too fast. Everybody was moving mad fast before the pandemic happened, and then it slowed everybody down. And either you let that joint just eat you up, or you let it open your mind to other shit.
HH: Speaking of the single and things outside of the projects: “2nd Scheme,” the joint with Swarvy.
MN: That song was like a year and a half old; I did that song in LA. That was the first time we went to LA. We had a little tour, you remember all us out there? That’s how I got the joint. We pulled up to the studio, and we did one song in there. Kahuna and Slim left, and I was still there, because he had played another beat I wanted to get on. They weren’t fucking with it. So I was like, yeah. let me do this joint. He was with it. He let me get on that shit for free.
HH: Let’s talk about the LA trip. I know you went out there twice.
MN: One of the best trips I’ve ever took in my life. It was pre-pandemic, so niggas was outside. It wasn’t no restrictions, niggas still living life without thinking about everything about COVID. [At that time], I ain’t never been to Cali. The environment, the atmosphere, the energy is kind of addicting, you know? Just off that, and listening to Cali music while I was there — that shit hit way different. So all that was great. Then I did, like, five performances out there, getting paid for them. I ain’t never got paid for no shows till I went to LA to do shows. And some of these people didn’t even know me. Like, they giving me bread off the strength of I’m with Mutant Academy, you know what I mean? But I smoked them, though. I gained mad fans out there. Nobody really ever saw me do that good. Fly Anakin came to me after and was just like, “I’m proud of you.” And then he was like, “Cuz wanna talk to you.” It was Earl Sweatshirt. Earl came up to me, literally that man was like, “Bro! You killed that, bro.” I’m like, what is going on?
HH: We’re talking about performances in LA last year, and also performances in New York over the summer. But when are getting Monday Night headlining in Richmond?
MN: It has happened, but that was when we had to put it together ourselves. It’s easier when somebody else sets it off. I’d be too cluttered to even think about carrying something out like that. I don’t think the moment is right just now for me to do it. And like, I don’t know, bro. I couldn’t tell you why. Strange Matter, I guess. I guess Strange Matter is the reason — that’s the only reason I can think of, you feel me? I ain’t never got hit up ever again after that for no show, ever, since then. I feel like somebody blackballed me after that.
I’m like, well it don’t matter. It don’t even matter. You know what I mean? Because I’m still doing shows, [but] its wack. You know what I mean? It’s a wack thing that I got to go to North Carolina to get paid, to do a show which has happened. I got to go to New York and have a 20 minute set. You know what I mean? And people receiving me out there, like, really? They’re coming up to me, fans and all that, all types. I performed in Texas, I performed in LA, DC. What the fuck? That’s all I’m saying, bro.
Since this interview took place, Monday Night has performed at Chilalay and The Spot. He’s still looking for a headlining show, however. If you’ve got one for him, get at him on Instagram @mondaynighthb. If nothing else, keep an eye on his Bandcamp for new joints — they’re coming.
Photos courtesy Monday Night