Moonie and Count, collectively known as the L.E.P. Bogus Boys, hail from Chicago. "It's a cold city—literally," Moonie says. Their music, the lyrics especially, reflect that. Operating in the tradition of early-90s, hard-hearted hip-hop, the Bogus Boys recall the heyday of acts like Mobb Deep. They trade in grit rather than flash, the streets and little else.
Sitting down with Complex, the Bogus Boys talked about their city, about the sights and sounds they encounter everyday, and about how the recession has informed their music.
Interview by Ross Scarano (@RossScarano)
You’re heading back to Chicago tonight—where will you go to eat?
Count: Sometimes I like to just go real quick and get some Harold’s Chicken [various locations around Chicago]—extra mild sauce. Or we might go out west, hit Mac Arthur’s [5412 West Madison Street]. That’s some everyday type eating. But we like to go out to all types of restaurants. We stay going out.
Count: Moonie just put me onto a restaurant, Redstone [13 Lincoln Center, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.].
Moonie: They specialize in steaks, but their macaroni and cheese is real good. Rotisserie chicken. It’s a real healthy place. At the end of the day, we be in the studio so much, working, we gotta come out and eat something healthy every now and then.
How’d you get turned on to it?
Moonie: I’m just a fan of food. I like to try different things—
Count: Google. Just google something, man.
Moonie: Yeah, we’ll be in the studio, just googling. Next thing you know we found [Redstone], checked the menu out, zipped out there. Actually turned out to be a good spot, and we’ve been a fond of their food ever since.
Count: In the hood, though, I’ll also hit up a good grill spot. Go to Curt’s [various locations around Chicago] real quick.
Moonie: Uncle Remus [various locations around Chicago], on the west side. It’s like a Harold’s Chicken. That’s good, too.
How about clubs?
Moonie: Ontourage [157 West Ontario Street]. Zentra [923 West Weed Street]. Sangria [901 West Weed Street]. Adrianna’s [16300 South Dixie Highway, Harvey, Ill.]. Secrets [3229 North Clark Street].
Count: Definitely Secrets. Victor Hotel [311 North Sangamon Street].
Moonie: They do Artist Mondays at Victor Hotel. Artists throughout Chicago come out. You get to see lots of new talent. There’s a lot of up-and-coming talent in Chicago.
Anyone you want to mention?
Count: [casually] The whole city.
Moonie: There’s too many to name, first. And when I can shout out the whole city, that means we’re all doing something good. We all piggy-backing off each other, doing good music.
What are some other good places in the city to see live hip-hop?
Moonie: Adrianna’s. They cater to Chicago artists. It’s in the south suburbs. It’s huge.
Count: For New Year’s, Lil Wayne came up there. Lot of artists come up there. Jim Jones. Fabolous. Jadakiss, but that was years back.
Moonie: All the big acts come to that spot when they hit Chicago and want to do a show. In fact, the last three or four shows we’ve done have been at Adrianna’s.
Where are you performing tomorrow?
Moonie: We’re at Secrets tomorrow.
Count: Secrets is some hood shit, man. All the guys will come out, drink, spend some good money. All the thick girls come out with their freakum dress on. We in there chilling, smoking, drinking, having fun.
How have you guys seen Chicago change since you first started in the business?
Count: There are more artists now, starting to get on their business. Taking it a little more serious than recreation, as a hobby. They’re starting to venture out, coming to New York, Atlanta, L.A. I see Chicago artists on lots of blogs and websites now. A couple on MTV, BET. Chicago, to be honest, was not really an entertainment city. Chicago built on something else. Chicago’s about the streets.
Do you feel like have to get outside the city to make it?
Count: Oh, definitely. You gotta get out. But at the same time, the internet is like a gift. You can make relationships with blogs. But you gotta do shows.
Do you still enjoy the shows?
How is it different from being in the studio?
Moonie: You get a chance to get out there and talk to the people, and maybe shit you thought they wouldn’t like they end up loving. And the shit that you love, sometimes they like it and sometimes they don’t. You get everybody’s opinion. And of course you get to smoke and drink with the crowd. Have some fucking fun.
Count: Kick it.
How do you two represent Chicago?
Count: Every hood has got the same story—it’s all about poverty. We represent the people. We go through the same thing. Hustling, man. Trying to get those bills paid. But we go everywhere for beats. Some people will just stick with their region [for beats], but really everybody is starting to use everybody’s beats. New York. Down South. Chicago. Cali. And we, we just spit our story on it. Put our lifestyles on these beats.
Moonie: I think everybody is sharing the same things right now. With the recession, everybody is struggling. That’s why I think the L.E.P. Bogus Boys are so relatable right now. Because we share the same struggles. Regardless of whether we were making music, we’d still be trying to just make it. Everybody is feeling like they’re gonna be eating off the ground any day now. It’s hard for you to invest anything when, shit, your job may close down tomorrow.
Do you feel like your music reflects the recession?
Moonie: Hell. Yeah.
Count: We talk about it all the time. Gas prices high. Everything high, whether you working a 9-to-5 or you hustling.
Moonie: You can’t even be a player no more. Three nights of going out to dinner will kill your pockets.
Count: That’s a rap.
Moonie: Can’t even pimp like you used to.
Click next page to find out which strip club the Bogus Boys frequent.
Where do you guys shop?
Count: It’s changed up. A couple years ago we would up Oak Street. Now we switched it up, shopping at Leaders.
Moonie: Leaders 1354 [672 North Wells Street] But lately we’ve been wearing a lot of our own clothes.
[Moonie pats his chest; he’s wearing a red sweatshirt with a large L emblazoned on it.]
Moonie: You can buy all this on our website.
Do either of you buy records?
Moonie: Hell yeah.
Moonie: I don’t buy vinyl. But I’ll stop by Best Buy and get some shit right quick. The mom and pop shops are pretty much gone.
Count: I can’t front though, I’ll pull over on a bootlegger. On some, “Lemme get a couple of those, man.”
Moonie: But don’t bootleg our shit.
Count: They’re gonna do it anyway, man, what you talking about? It is what it is.
So you just accept that it’s going to happen?
Count: I do. Soon as your CD hit the streets, it’ll be bootlegged, whether you like it or not.
Moonie: I tell the bootleggers, “Don’t bootleg our shit—call me. You can come get some of this from us, for real.” We’ve got boxes.
Any other places in Chicago you want to mention?
Count: Did I mention Arnies [Arnies Idle Hour, a strip club - 85 West 147th Street, Harvey, Ill.]? You can go there and let your hair down. Polekatz [7337 West 100th Place, Bridgeview, Ill.] man—the girls are too skinny there. You gotta beef up for the strip club. But Arnies is full of that thick. And just in case somebody at Arnies is reading, y’all should take out some of the girls with them bullet holes, man.
Count: We took J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League to Arnies, and we been like this [crosses index finger over middle emphatically] ever since.
Count: We got a whole catalog of beats when they left. Arnies will do that to you. We take you to Arnies you’re gonna leave with cornrows, man.
Moonie: You might have dreads or a Caesar [laughs].