A Deviouz Return

It’s been 18 long months since the public has heard from Mongo Maddness and the Deviouz Dollarz crew. Deviouz Dollarz is a collection of artists from Bridgeport, Connecticut that Mongo has headed up for a number of years, unfortunately, as he points out, “I went on a little vacation.” Err, make that a state mandated vacation. Mongo had to spend a little time away due to a marijuana charge, but even while incarcerated he still managed to get press.

The Connecticut Post, a large daily newspaper based out of Bridgeport, did a feature on the Free Mongo mix-CD that was released shortly after Mongo was sent up. The budding Hip-Hop mogul remembers “people were in like yo, you read the paper? You guys are up in there. And I’m like nah because you know locked up the papers come late and it gets all wrinkled and messed up so you can barely read it anyways.” The clip eventually found its way to Mongo, who quickly found ways of getting it out to the right people.

The article was an indicator that Mongo was on the right path, but the crew would quickly go their separate ways after its publication. “I guess we had too many chiefs, not enough Indians,” he says with a knowing smile, the kind that says yeah, I know what happened and yeah it’s been taken care of. “People got big headed,” he continued, “they heard a song on the radio and they saw the articles.” Unkut, a member of the Deviouz Dollarz crew and Mongo’s right hand man, is quick to point out “nobody was listening to me. I was the one Indian that remained an Indian, but I was doing a lot of chief footwork.” Mongo remembers “Unkut wrote me and said listen, they’re not listening to me, I’m leavin, I’ll come back when you come home.” This brought about a thought that had never occurred to Mongo before. “To tell you the truth,” he says, humbled at the idea, “I didn’t realize how important I was until I left.” Unkut stayed true to his word as the second Mongo was released the two were back in business.

Despite being in jail Mongo stayed remarkably focused on his work. He notes that being incarcerated gave him “a lot of time to think,” adding “I really didn’t take that as a punishment, I actually took that as a blessing. I networked with a lot of people.” How one networks in prison is an interesting question, but according to Mongo “they kept hearing the songs on the radio so they knew I was for real. I also snuck a couple CDs up in there.”

Now that Mongo’s out it’s time for him to rebuild what once was. “The foundation is still there,” he explains “it’s just the rest of it fell off. The foundation never really fell.” The foundation right now includes Mongo, Unkut, and a team of artists that are featured on the upcoming Free Mongo Vol. 2 mix-CD. Unkut remembers “for the longest we were trying to get it organized but there were a lot of people in our face and in our way. Mongo had to cut his dreads off so we could see the snakes that were in the grass.”

Mongo’s locks were donated to cancer patients, an outward sign of his compassion. This compassion was again shown when some of his former colleagues approached him recently. “A couple people,” he notes “they messed up, but when I came home they came to me, told me they messed up and apologized. They came at me like a man so I respect them more than somebody else saying they don’t want to see me like this.”

Many people do want to see Mongo and it should come as no surprise that he’s making the most of it. Unkut explains that as a crew they have one major goal right now, “to make sure we don’t just stay local,” and he’s doing plenty to make sure this goal is achieved. Unkut went to school at Virginia State University and The Art Institute of Philadelphia and he makes sure his work is heard on those streets as well as his own.

Up next for Mongo, Unkut, and the rest of the Deviouz Dollarz crew is the release of Unkut’s solo album and the completion of Connecticut Welcomes You, The Official Connecticut DVD. One thing’s for sure, an 18 month stint in jail isn’t about to stop Mongo Maddness. “I’m always gonna shine,” he says with a laugh, “I use baby oil!”