Bo is fifteen minutes late. I’m getting restless because I’m only in L.A. a few days and there are things I want to do before I go back to the frozen tundra that is Minnesota this time of year. The jet lag is slowly creeping in but it won’t really take effect until a few glasses of Grey Goose remind my body that it’s been deprived of sleep. In between them comes a shot of rail vodka missing the succulent finish the Goose always provides. That shot almost didn’t happen though.
“You only drink Goose?” the bartender asked while he lined up four shot glasses.
He wanted to pass me a taste of whiskey but I told the guy I can’t do it.
“Tequila?” he asked instead, holding up a bottle as long as his outstretched beard.
I shook my head again and he gave me a weird look. He didn’t want to pour a free shot of Goose and I couldn’t blame him.
“You know, man, I don’t really need a shot. Don’t even worry about it,” which was the truth because now the man’s generosity was stressing me out.
I tried to disavow drinking during a yearlong stretch in China and now I’m trying to keep this abstinence alive despite the fact I’m clearly failing. I know that behind a shot of booze rests an unhealthy urge for Tinder, and I’m in L.A., back in the States where temptation is easily accessible, and where there is no language barrier. If I ask a woman where she’s at in her life, she won’t respond with her literal location. The bartender grabs a vodka bottle and pours a shot. My life is easier if I don’t drink that libation. But seconds later we are raising glasses and now I’m headed down another long road.
I’m 26 but I feel 46 because all I really want to do is polish off another Goose or two and then go curl up in bed and watch a British sitcom about four losers in high school. There are only 18 episodes but I have seen every one 100 times. It’s been a good day because I have what I came for, time spent with Bo Moneyy, the smooth-talking rapper I met two years ago in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Now he’s in L.A. trying to make it along with countless other artists. Truthfully, I don’t know if Bo has what it takes because I know little about the music industry. But his music has gotten me through some obstacles, like one time when I was forced out of a bartending position at a high-end Italian restaurant because of their fraternization between coworkers policy. I spent the next month washing dishes for $7.50 an hour while I searched for a better gig. His album, The Rap Circus Vol. 2, got me through those shitty nights when my hands would char from grabbing steaming hot plates. Now songs from wRap n Roll 2: Easy Listening get me through sets of an ab workout that make me want to puke after five minutes. Life is a progression.
It’s been two years out west already for Bo. “I’m here, baby,” when I ask how he likes it. “I ain’t going nowhere.” But it wasn’t always this easy.
“Had 250 dollars when I first got here,” he says while taking a sip of beer and reminiscing on his arrival in California. Bo didn’t get here overnight, a fact people out west might not consider when they first listen to a Bo Moneyy album or meet him in person.
To recap for those that missed the piece I did for Immersion Magazine back in 2017, Bo grew up in Milroy, a small town in southern Minnesota. He moved north to St. Cloud and began taking classes and bartending, ultimately giving up school to further focus on making money and moving to California. “A two-time college dropout, girl you know I been about it,” a line from the track “Holly Would Hillz” that further showcases the all-in mentality that has gotten him this far.
Things were changing by the time he left St. Cloud. “They had a law where to be living in the south side you had to be enrolled on campus,” Bo explains, going on to say that eventually the law was lifted, which allowed lower-income people to move in, essentially eliminating the college vibe that permeated that neighborhood for so long. This made his decision to leave easier.
But in many ways Bo had outgrown St. Cloud. He was a big fish in a small pond, his face gracing the cover of billboards as he regularly headlined shows at a downtown nightclub. I only casually knew Bo the bartender when I sat down with him two years ago. I came away from that not knowing if he would ever make it as an entertainer, but knowing that he was going to give the venture his best shot.
“When I came out here I started stopping out at the radio stations, introducing myself. Before you know it, J Cruz, Power 106, Jeff Garcia, all those guys are inviting me to shows. They took me to Vegas with them,” noting the highs. “At the same time, they’ll be hanging out with me one day, and the next day they’ll be hanging out with DJ Khaled. They have everyone on speed dial. That’s why I connected with them. I knew it was a hub for me to network.”
The platform Power 106 offered didn’t end there either. “Did my first freestyle on the radio,” an event where he competed with fellow local rappers on live radio. The exposure was huge not just from a marketing perspective, but to show people that he wasn’t just a pretty face dabbling in a hobby. His art is his life.
And from there things kept progressing. Power 106 hooked him up with a VIP entrance to Nipsey Hussle’s album release party. “Never even imagined I would sit next to him.” He also met Kid Ink. “They introduced me to his manager, DJ Ill Will. He used his platform to put Kid Ink into the stratosphere. Gave him [DJ Ill Will] my album but I haven’t heard back. I keep in touch with him [Kid Ink] quite a bit.” But when Bo hits him up to collaborate or talk business, Kid Ink isn’t available, likely because he’s currently touring internationally.
As far as what others think of Bo Moneyy, the jury is still out. “I’ve been getting hated on because I’m white,” he jokes, but it shows how much of a minority he is in the rap game. Prominent figures like G-Eazy, Eminem, and Machine Gun Kelly (you know, because they’re all best friends) are not the norm. There are no rules in the rap/hip-hop industry, but there are definitely trends, and right now Bo doesn’t fit the bill of what a rapper looks like. “Everyone follows the crowd,” he mentions, a truth that will likely not soon change.
I’ve seen virtually all of the Bo Moneyy evolution. He popped onto the Minnesota rap scene back in 2015 when he released popular singles like “Crumpled Letter” and “Give N Take.” Throughout that year he continued to release mixtapes and singles, often shooting in St. Cloud and Minneapolis. By 2016 he had increased his following and began shooting in more exotic locations. The track “Mexico” was filmed down south over spring break. And then more attention followed suit, especially by the summer when he released “Buck It Then,” a video shot in rural Minnesota that focused on the struggle with alcohol and depression. This video peaked early and currently has upwards of 68,000 views. When 2017 rolled around he released “Minnesota Hova,” his biggest banger to date behind “This That” off the wRap n Roll 2: Easy Listening album.
But since then he’s seen a drop off in his views and following, a consequence Bo thinks stems from leaving Minnesota and entering the much more competitive L.A. market.
It comes as no shock that he’s had to reinvent himself upon arriving, the demand for his music not yet as high. He hasn’t released as many music videos, although two of his latest pay homage to both his work and personal life. In “Last Call,” Bo takes listeners through a bevy of his favorite drinks (whiskey, beer, and vodka):
“And on a rainy day god gave me an ultimatum,
He said whiskey, beer, or vodka,
You gotta fuck one, marry one, kill one.
I said fuck vodka, marry whiskey, and kill beers, cuz I kill beers, at least I did my first 25 years.”
As a fellow Minnesotan, it was easy for me to relate to his next words “skies so clear, I could die here,” a line that when crystallized by the smooth beat puts listeners right underneath those gorgeous summer skies and warm evenings that are extremely prevalent from May-August in the North Star State.
I often liken Bo’s style to G-Eazy’s because both mix up their tone and content. Not every song is intended to rip the roof off a venue, and not every song is an introspection into the highs and lows of life. The journey to making it in the music industry can be lonely. Bo talks about people seeing him as a vessel for their own ascension, plus people from his past also trying to capitalize on his small successes out west. It at times leaves him very isolated, and despite the obvious fact that his music is good, there still remains the question: will it ever be good enough?
“As far as getting a manager or record deal, nothing yet, but I’m still pumping out music. I just finished a mixtape the other day, so I’ve put out a shitload of stuff.”
“What’s the process of getting a manager?” I ask him.
“I don’t know,” Bo truthfully responds. “For now I’m building my own fanbase. When I first moved I was out here,” pointing to the Venice Boardwalk we are sipping beers next to. “Trying to sell all my shit. No one wants to pay for it, of course.”
Bo’s music loses him money right now, but it’s not a deterrent. “Out here I got a studio I’ve been going to. Six hours for a hundred bucks. I did the math. This year I put $4,000 into studio time.”
His music streams on platforms like iTunes and YouTube, netting him enough money to pay for various bills that afflict most people. It’s not enough to break even, but it’s something.
It’s quite hard to believe that people like Bo struggle to make it, but then artists that drop a one-hit wonder on SoundCloud end up getting signed. It doesn’t seem right, but Bo is okay with that.
“I don’t want to be like that. I have a foundation. Ten mixtapes out already. If I could ever go on with music I would expand, go into anything. Go into branding, writing. I want to write a book someday too.”
And this is why I say Bo reminds me of G-Eazy. G has his own whiskey label and produced a short film recently, all while still working on his fourth studio album. It’s that tireless devotion that got him there, a work ethic I assume Bo Moneyy shares.
Yet life is too short to talk about work all the time. This is my first trip to L.A. and if the rumors are true this place is supposed to be more fun than New York City, a great state I cycled through back in 2017 that lived up the east coast hype people raved about.
“What’s it like out here, bro? The girls? Tell me everything.”
Bo leans in a little closer to the mic. “I love you L.A. girls, but you all are stuck up.” My stomach fills with laughter and I don’t want to hold it in. “They’re just different. Gold diggers. I get left unread a lot,” meaning women see his messages, but don’t respond. “That’s what they’re about out here. On my last album I put a quote: `if you don’t drive a Bentley they don’t want you.’” So Bo got on with his business as usual, opting to leave glamorous romance for a later day. “I got exhausted from trying,” he acknowledges.
To be fair, women have it tough. They can’t marry a guy with nothing because humans have to eat three times a day, but if they marry a guy with too much money the Kanye West song begins playing. I don’t know where the equilibrium is, but it isn’t in L.A.
There is a silver lining though. “I tell you what, man. The MILFs love me. The MILFs,” he softly chuckles and pauses to find political correctness. “The older ladies pursue me.” Yet Bo is still a gentleman. “I don’t kiss and tell,” and he takes another sip of beer. “I might have hung a hat on the door a time or two,” the dark sunglasses covering his eyes giving no true indication to the seriousness of his words, but his smile lighting up an otherwise subpar Californian sunshine.
When he reflects on his time out west thus far, it’s been worth it. “I’m having a great time. If I had it my way I would have a place in Minnesota too, but I like it here. It’s great. But it’s hard, so much uncertainty. When I was talking to you in my apartment [back in Minnesota] I was scared. I’m going out here, I don’t know anybody. Now I’m doing my thing. Definitely not going to fold up shop and go back to Minnesota. Got my foot in the door, now just gotta punch home the touchdown.”
You haven’t heard the last from Bo Moneyy. He’s simply too talented to go unnoticed much longer. But more telling, he’s too hungry to fall short.
Quentin Super’s debut novel, The Long Road North, is available for purchase here
Also purchase any one of Bo Moneyy’s albums here
Catch Quentin Super on a book tour in 2017, here