Hip-hop artist Matt Monday, a native of North Charleston now cutting his teeth in New York City under the tutelage of music mogul Damon Dash, has big plans for 2014. A new album titled Filthy is in the works, along with a new short film titled Remember Mine.
"I took this year to prepare for next year," he says in a phone interview from Harlem, where he's living while working as an intern for Dash. Monday was previously a four-time winner of the Best of Charleston reader poll for Best Local Hip-Hop Artist under his old moniker, Righchus, but he changed the name this spring, saying he'd outgrown it. (The name change also put an end to promoters mistaking him for a Christian rapper.)
First, about the new Matt Monday album: This will be Monday's first record without Charleston producer Max Berry on the soundboard. He says Berry couldn't make his schedule work while finishing his MBA, but he looks forward to working with Berry again on later albums. In Berry's place, Monday brought in Charleston producers Francis Cooper and Ryan Janeiro, and previous collaborator Sam King will make another appearance on a song. Monday says you'll see a lot more of his own fingerprints on the album this time, though, from melodies he wrote to album artwork ideas he came up with to guest singers he invited.
"Everything before was a collaboration, but this one's all me," he says. "Music, visuals, everything's completely my ideas. You're getting the full Matt Monday everything." Monday doesn't have a firm release date for Filthy yet, but he's in the process of mixing and mastering and plans to announce a release date in January.
Righchus was always synonymous with high-concept music videos, and the new film in the works, Remember Mine, continues the tradition. Monday says it's not a music video per se, but the soundtrack will consist of songs from Filthy. The 20-page script, which Monday wrote, follows the lucrative career of a college pill-pusher named Tobias (played by Monday). When Tobias meets a girl who shows him a way out of the drug game, he comes to a crossroads. "He comes to a conflict of choosing between those two, and when he makes a decision, he has to deal with the consequences," Monday says. He tapped Alex West to direct the film and recently spent time in Charleston filming scenes.
Filthy will be released on S.W.I.M. (Southern Wealth In Music), the record label Monday founded this spring, with a possible distribution deal through Dash's own BluRoc Records. S.W.I.M. will also release an album titled Classy by its first signed artist, Charleston rapper Lexa L'Terra.
So, what's it like working for Dash, the Roc-A-Fella co-founder whose infamous falling-out with Jay-Z and subsequent nightclub endeavors have landed him on the gossip page more than a few times? "It wasn't a cakewalk. I had to sit in cars while they go in meetings, take out the trash, do blog updates for their blog. It started out very humble," Monday says. It's not all office-gopher work these days, though.
"The more I'm around him, being around him alone, you learn so much. He gives me a lot of life lessons and business lessons that I most definitely would not learn just walking around the street by myself."