MBNel stands for Muddy Boy Nel, straight out the trenches of South Stockton. While it’s a small city in itself, the Bay Area rapper grew up surrounded by everything from poverty to gang violence to guns… you name it. He states, “It’s so small that everyone knows each other, it’s always something going on.” Read more…
If real name Jhonel Dongon wasn’t doing music, he’d still be getting money. To this day, he still stays back home in his hood, which serves as his biggest motivation to go hard in the paint with the music — providing for himself, his family, and his gang.
With the release of “In My City”, he gained the attention of many in the rap game, a song who’s music video reached a million in less than a month unexpectedly. In the end, he just wants his story to inspire others to go out and gets theirs, no matter what their circumstances. Fans can expect his forthcoming album dropping November 15th, with features from Mozzy, upcoming Bay artist Lil Beam, Lil Poppa, and TeeJay3k.
At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
The feedback and when I started seeing income coming from it. I’m like “oh shit, I’m getting paid for this.” People started asking me for features and shows. When I got to the point where I was getting paid for distribution, I’m like “bro this shit is for real. This is a real form of income, a real job.” From that point on almost two years ago, I started taking it serious like “this is a way to get out.”
What were you doing before the music?
Just regular shit, running around the streets. School, high school. I worked at a little place for a little bit then got fired. Some other shit, then got involved in a lot of shit.
Where’d you work at?
Seven Up for a little bit, it’s a little Stockton company. I worked there for a little bit. After that I worked at a marijuana club, but they had fired me two days after.
Just a whole bunch of shit. They looked at my background and fired me because they didn’t trust me or whatever. Shit, we just scored on them.
You got a bad background or record?
You could say that.
Talk about the family, do you have siblings?
It’s mom, pops, my little brother and me. Me and my little brother grew up with each other but we weren’t really close, we were into two different shits. I was always out of the house, away from the house. My brother was always inside so we weren’t really that close like that. Me being around when I was around, my brother started being around it. Then he started getting involved in shit.
How far apart are you guys?
He’s two years younger, I’m his older brother.
How would you describe your sound?
A lot of people say it doesn’t sound like the regular West Coast Cali sound. People be comparing it saying it sounds more like some down South shit, but a lot of melodizing when I rap/sing.
“In My City” hails over 5.1M views on Youtube alone, bring us back to that studio session.
I did it in my room. I recorded it in my room. I did it in an hour in my room. I wanted to shoot a video for it, and it just blew.
You had your own set up in your room?
Yeah, I had my own little mic and computer in my room. “ In My City,” “Love My Gang,” damn near all of my songs on my first project were done in my room. Still till this day, I use my room.
You record there over an actual studio?
For little stuff like that but lately, I’ve been getting into bigger studios. I notice the difference in sound.
You say “you never went to college got mama & papa whining,” what do parents think now?
I mean, my pops supports it because he’s in the music scene too. He deejays, so he’s really into music. But my mom she’s still like “oh…” Just a regular Filipino mom.
Talk about being Filippino, do you feel like the minority?
Nah yeah, fasholy. Not even just that but especially with the music I make and where I’m coming from, it’s out of the norm I guess people would say.
Who do you look up to in terms of artists?
I grew up on Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, Nipsey Hussle, and a lot of Bay Area shit. I grew up on a whole bunch of different stuff.
You talk about a lot of real shit, how has music been a form of therapy for you?
I use it as my journal or diary, to relieve myself from a lot of stuff that’s in my head.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Hopefully they get inspired from me, that they can be from wherever they’re from and be looked at however. Shit’s unexpected, you just have to keep on pressing. Keep on pushing.
What is your take on the music industry?
Since I’ve gotten into the industry, a lot of fake shit. You start seeing a lot of fake shit, people trying to use you, etc. But follow your heart, whatever you feel is right.
Talk about your journey to EMPIRE.
The homie youngMONC from Thizzler had tapped in with them, shoutout young MONC. That’s how they heard about me. Then the homie Chedda (shout out Chedda), he put them on me too. There were multiple people talking about me so they finally hit me. Brought me up there, had me a little meeting. I did my first little album deal with them for the Misunderstood project.
How important is social media for your career?
Super important. Damn near without social media, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now. I’m on there every day, but who ain’t though? It’s every day, first thing when you wake up: grab your phone and hop on Instagram.
Favorite person to follow on IG?
Probably Soulja Boy, he’s hella funny. It would’ve been between him and 6ix9ine because they be on some other shit. They be comedians. I don’t even follow them though. I don’t follow celebrities, I just see what I see.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Shit, it’s different every day. Wake up, I live in my hood so I’m in my hood everyday. Go to the studio, eat. It’s different every day, make money. Get to the money every day, get a bag every day.
3 things you need in the studio?
My phone, some food, drugs. Cheat codes. Nah I’m just playing. [chuckles] My phone, food, and snacks fasho. Candy, chips, sour candies. Sour Patches, Sour Skittles, etc.
Do you drink?
No I don’t drink. I’ll do little stuff here and there, but I don’t really be smoking and drinking like that.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
It’s been a lot. I ran into a fan and he gave me a pair of shoes, some Jordans. He had it in his car, they were some 12s. I still wear ‘em.
Who’s in your Top 5?
That’s a hard one, I’ma need a second. [pulls out phone] I don’t want to single them out. Right now, Polo G, NoCap, new artists right? Lil Tjay hard. I don’t want to single people out. They aren’t really no favorites, just people I’m bumping. DaBaby go crazy, Lil Poppa, TeeJay3k from Florida.
What advice do you have for an inspiring MBNel?
Just be persistent in what you want to do. Believe in what you want to do, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Whatever you believe in, let it manifest and make it come true. That’s it, just do you. Be yourself.