M-Bone: A Life of Promise and Potential Cut Short

A young fan show some love for Monte' "M-Bone" Talbert at a makeshift memorial for the late Cali Swag District member./Dennis J. Freeman/news4usonline.com

By Dennis J. Freeman

Monte’ (M-Bone) Talbert was doing his thing, dancing his way to fame and stardom as the revered dance member of the Cali Swag District, famous for its monster hit, “Teach Me How to Dougie.” The world was just getting to know Talbert through the infectious dance craze that he helped made part of America’s social fabric the past two years.

Talbert was a young man on the threshold of fulfilling his dream. He had aspirations of becoming a full-fledge musical artist. And now he’s gone. The 22-year-old Talbert was well on his way to achieving the things he wanted to do in life before he was felled by shots by an unknown assailant the Sunday after Mother’s Day.

It was a particularly special Mother’s Day for Talbert as he sat and had dinner with his mother, grandmother and other family members. Those family members as well as his friends and the hip hop community are now mourning the loss of a young man, who’s real joy was entertaining folks with his catchy and hypnotic dance moves.  

 “He was a real energetic person,” said hip hop artist Suge Gotti, who worked alongside Talbert and Cali Swag District. “He was all positive, no negative. He was a harmless person. That’s why I don’t understand how this could happen to him.

“I don’t have anything negative to say about him. He’ll truly be missed. It’s a big loss. To watch a young man growing into something and then be part of the game…that’s hard to replace.”

Talbert’s dream came to an abrupt halt when he was cowardly gunned down and murdered in his hometown of Inglewood, California.  Talbert was sitting in a car outside of Airport Liquor and Groceries Store on LaBrea Avenue when a red mustang drove up besides the vehicle he was in and opened fire.

Talbert was hit twice in the head, according to Inglewood police. 

The news of Talbert’s demise has sent shock waves throughout the city and nationally as throngs of visitors and well-wishers have placed flowers and cards in front of the store in which he was murdered in a makeshift memorial. Young Keno, a hip hop artist who shares the same music label as Cali Swag District, was among those coming out to pay homage to Talbert.

Young Keno fondly recalled the last conversation he had with Talbert, which took place a couple of days before the shooting. It was a light-hearted conversation they had about Talbert’s beard growth, Young Keno said.   

 “M-Bone had just started growing his full beard, and we were clowning,” Young Keno said. “I said, ‘You don’t want to look twenty-two anymore, huh? I said, ‘Don’t the sideburns look good with the fitted cap on? He said, ‘Yeah, they like it like that.’”

Talbert’s death has been hard to swallow, Young Keno added.

“Everybody is taking it hard,” he said.

Since the day of the shooting took place, the rumor machines and theory factories have been feverishly at work, running rampant as to why and how Talbert lost his life.  

Talbert’s family and friends do not care about those rumors. All they know is that they lost a beautiful young man whose life was just beginning. They lost an energetic, loving soul who helped give America more than a dance craze.

M-Bone's mother, Andrea Armstrong and grandmother, Mary Alice Phillips, standing outside Inglewood City Hall, wants to see justice served./Dennis J. Freeman/news4usonline.com

Talbert and the rest of the Cali Swag District crew gave the world a movement. A movement that made it fun to dance again, one that engulfed schools, communities and flirted its way all the way to the White House. That movement has now lost one of its frontline soldiers.

 A mother lost a son. A sister lost a brother. Uncles lost their nephew. A grandmother lost the child she raised. Peers lost a comrade that was fun-loving and humble as they come. 

“Montae was the fifth of my 13th grandchildren. We want to see justice come for my beloved Montae,” said Mary Alice Phillips, Talbert’s grandmother. “I raised Montae all the days of his life, all through school, all through the whole process…and what joy.”    

The proceeding days after the passing of Talbert has been nothing but a whirlwind for his family, which has been besieged with one media request after another and showed up at Inglewood City Hall to make a request that a reward be put out on the hip hop star’s killer(s).

There certainly will be more restless days and nights for the family in the upcoming days leading up to Talbert’s funeral. But the grief doesn’t stop there. The pain of seeing or hearing about the lost of a young man with a promising future has hit home with a lot of folks-young and old. Pamela Sanders was one of those people shaken up by the news of Talbert’s passing.

Sanders run and operate Washington Hancock for Girls, a group home for abused girls in Los Angeles. Sanders came into contact with Talbert in 2008 when Cali Swag District stopped by the group home and brought Christmas gifts for 186 girls.

 Sanders said the group has been faithful every year in stopping by and bringing the girls presents. Sanders said she remembers Talbert fondly. She was shocked at hearing the news about him.

“It’s unbelievable,” Sanders said. “His personality was beautiful. Their personality was beautiful.”

 Eddie Jones, president of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association, called on justice to be served and said that Talbert’s basic rights to live were stolen away from him.

“It’s an injustice,” Jones said. “This young man turned his life around, got his life right and made something out of himself. I take these kinds of killings very personal. We all have family members. We don’t want this to happen to any of our family.”

 Funeral services for Talbert are tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 27, at Faithful Central Bible Church at 11 a.m. in Inglewood.       

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