On the first day of spring in 1975 Monroe Tohnoh Dunbar, Jr. made his entrance to the world. Born on the green land of Liberia, Monroe would spend 5 years in his home country before his father would send for him and his mother to join him across the Atlantic in the bitter cold of Minnesota.
As the oldest of 10 children, Monroe was a natural entertainer. He aspired to be the next Michael Jackson and would keep his younger siblings entertained for hours with his dance moves and singing. Those aspirations would change forever at the age of 9 when his uncle bought him his first rap tape—If I Ruled the World, by the legendary Kurtis Blow. Mesmerized by the socially conscious message and Blow’s smooth delivery, Monroe quickly learned the lyrics and could often be heard reciting them around the house and at school. Later that year a female friend would recite a verse from a rap she had written called Vicious and Monroe realized he didn’t have to recite other rapper’s lyrics—he could write his own. From that moment forward Monroe would spend hours every day writing lyrics in his notebook. With his distinctive deep voice and gritty lyrics, Grip (as he was now known), quickly made a name for himself by winning local talent shows and rap battles.
Always an entrepreneur, Grip understood the business side of the music industry and rather than shop for a major label deal he started his own label, Unstable Intellect in 1996. The following year he released the well-received maxi single, World of Sin and followed that up with 1999’s classic, Killa Grip. Wanting to build a buzz for the entire Unstable Intellect roster, Grip released the label’s first compilation album, I.O.N—It’s Over Now in 2003. Grip’s name and cult following led to him opening for national acts like DJ Quik, MC Breed, Nelly and on select dates for the Cash Money Ruff Ryders Tour.
It’s been over a decade since Grip released his last project but he’s kept in touch with the Minnesota hip hop community. In 2011 he launched alltainment.com, an entertainment website that spotlights up and coming artists in the local community. Teasing his fans with numerous guest appearances in recent years, the streets were buzzing when word of a new album leaked. That buzz turned into a roar with the March 19th release of #1 Hustla the first single from his highly anticipated album, Linchpin. With Grip’s distinctive deep voice and captivating story telling ability, Linchpin promises to bring the heat when it drops this summer.