John Monopoly knows a thing or two about the hustle. His reputed career in the music business is a testament to that. For years, the Chicago native has been making power moves in the industry, but he’s been most notable for his work alongside childhood pal Kanye West, with whom he served as the Grammy-winning superstar’s first manager and worked on his first three albums (College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation). While the two parted ways in 2004, citing an amicable split, they've seem to be on rather G.O.O.D. terms lately especially with Kanye’s recent shout-out to Monopoly on Yeezus’ “I Am A God.” In it he raps, “Monop' in this bitch, get a change of climate.” The line leaves many wondering whether or not the two are working together again. In fact, Monop even manages the Chi-Town rapper King L, who also makes an appearance on the album (“Send It Up”). Speaking to XXL, John touches on his relationship with ’Ye, King L’s feature on Yeezus and his new business venture.—Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)

Monop’ in this bitch, get a change of climate…” How’d you feel about that line and Kanye shouting you out?

[Laughs] Yeah, it definitely caught me by surprise.  Don C had told me that he said it at the MET Gala, but I hadn’t heard it until the other day.  So, when I heard it I was really excited and just happy to know that you know me and my bro were back, getting you know, getting the work.  You know how artists can be.  And that’s not necessarily with business, that’s just with us being where we need to be, just to be clear.

So with that said, what’s you relationship like between you and 'Ye now? 

I mean that’s my brother, you know.  You know, we’ve done some stuff together, I’d rather not say really what’s going on as far as our business or whatever we’re doing.  It’s just I think we were apart for a while, and now I think we’re kind of moving in the direction to be back in the original—.  I mean, I don’t know.  I mean that’s just my brother, and we were apart for a while, and we’re not really apart like that no more.  I’ll just say it like that.

Congrats on King Louie’s Yeezus feature.

Yeah, King Louie, yeah absolutely. Thanks.  He’s prominently featured on the album and you know we [both] were blessed to go to Paris a couple of times and work with ’Ye.  He ended up on the “Send It Up” record and it’s been getting like rave reviews, really killing Chicago. We’re getting calls from all over about it, so it’s a true blessing.  I kind of want to properly thank ’Ye for looking out and Louie for being dope enough to even be considered because [he] is definitely talented enough to get the next one.

How did the Louie connection with Kanye happen?

Well, when I first signed Louie, I started playing him for people and when I decided that we were going to do some business I started telling my cousin Don, Don C, about you know, the new artist I was working with or whatever and him being, you know that’s like my real cousin, so it’s like we always support each other.  And he made it a point to bring it to ’Ye early.  Like this is something that I had announced I’m working on, and then he was a fan of Louie too, so it just made sense.  He was like, “Yo I’m going to support you because you’re my cousin, but I’m also going to support you because he is the ill new dude.” So really this is all really speaks to Don making it a point to present Lou to ’Ye and then ‘Ye just being a visionary and having that ear, he identified the same things that I had identified in Lou, you know what I’m saying.  So that’s really how it went down.

What’s your situation with Lawless Management?

Well I, I’ve separated myself from Lawless.  I don’t have anything to do with Lawless anymore, but I wish them the best of luck.  I still work with Louie in a management capacity, but yeah I don’t have anything to do with Lawless.  But shout out to Katie, because Katie’s buzzing and I see her moving and I know she’s going to blow and I’m so happy for her.  And Bird is starting to get some traction too, so I’m sure they’re going to be successful, and I wish the Lawless crew nothing but success.  But yeah I don’t have anything to do with that situation.

You’re 100% invested in your management company, “Hustle.”

Right.  And that’s that.  Yeah, you know we’re at 15 years, we started the company in 1998, and we’re doing a big 15-year anniversary party.  August 10th in Chicago.  There’s going to be a lot of surprise guests, a huge event you know what I mean, so I’m really excited about that.  So yeah, it’s the 15-year anniversary of Hustle and you’re going to see a lot of exciting things this year and in years to come.

You’re a busy guy because you’re also holding court as the Urban Marketing Director of Pheed. 

Yeah absolutely.  We’ve got the social media platform Pheed, which is popping.  You know, definitely want to shout out Tony DeNiro and O.D. Kobo from Pheed. Definitely want to talk about this new live-streaming platform that’s really popping that we’re involved with called  It’s a publicly traded company, the stock symbol is XUII.  I want to, we’ve got some exciting things going on with them.  You know we just did a deal with Akon and Pusha T and French Montana and Trey Songz.  We’ve got a lot of exciting things going on with that platform.  And then you know, I’ve got some work with Stevie Williams the pro skater.  He’s got some surprises and some big announcements in the weeks to come. I manage J. Hill, we just did a joint venture with BMG. I formed a strategic alliance with the Cacciatore Family in Chicago, they’re the owners of Lakeside Bank and other multiple businesses.

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