“Once upon a time, I was born,” reads the Facebook bio of Jermaine “mainMan” Monroe. “I did some Dope Shit. Someday, I’ll pass away. But till then, I am main.”

Only a poet who has a deep love and appreciation for hip-hop could write a prophesying bio like that, which has the power to give any reader chills. It has been two months since the Triangle’s art community lost Monroe, an undeniably talented hip-hop head, spoken word artist, and motivational speaker.

On August 18, Monroe transitioned, a result of complications from COVID-19, just two days shy of his 50th birthday. The father of three used his talents to invest in young people through his mentoring program M.A.D.E (Make a Difference Every Day). In fact, his love for mentoring and performing can be seen even on his social media accounts

On July 30, he shared the following status on Facebook: “Just like Wu-Tang, Main is for the children. So much so that I am having a poetry slam for my students in Gibsonville Middle that I’ve been working with since summer started.”

It wasn’t unusual for Monroe to view his life’s interest through the lens of hip-hop. On August 11, he wrote a heartfelt birthday tribute post to his youngest daughter and reminded everyone that she in fact shares a birthday with none other than hip-hop, which is often said to have origins in an August 11, 1973, block party.

In another caption, Monroe even affectionately referred to himself and his fiancée, Tyamica Mabry, as “B-Boy main & Around The Way Ty” to appropriately describe their eighties-inspired hip-hop attire.

His younger sister was the first in school with graffiti pants because Main painted them for her. He also gave her the dopest hip-hop esque haircut by cutting her name in the back of her head.

Monroe was the host of Radio Unfriendly, a hip-hop talk show that aimed to place a spotlight on Carolina hip-hop heads and educate listeners about hip-hop as an art form. With an audience of approximately 13,000 listeners, Radio Unfriendly was simulcasted on two radio stations, WHUP 104.7 FM and WAVE 87.9 FM, and became accessible on all major podcast platforms from Apple to Spotify. The show ran for three seasons and was nominated by YES! Weekly for “2020 Podcast of the Year”; it was also featured in a recent INDY Week piece celebrating the top hip-hop-related podcasts in the Triangle.

Monroe’s ultimate gift to the world was his infectious personality, quick ability to make others laugh, and deep wisdom. His legacy will forever live on in North Carolina’s hip-hop and literary community.

In the weeks following Monroe’s death, the INDY spoke with fellow artists and close friends to get a deeper sense of the man who was a friend, mentor, and all-around talented creator.

Tyamica Mabry (fiancée): He had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. He gave me a love I never knew was possible. Although our time was short, it was absolutely beautiful. Everyone he loved knew it, and that’s how he wanted it to be. He gave us flowers while he could. He had no regrets.

We both always said we were who we prayed for. I prayed for him. He prayed for me. I thank God for sending him to me. For showing me a love I never could have imagined. I enjoyed every moment with him. We never had an argument.

We always talked through the tough moments, which were few. He loved me. Everyone knows that. And I love him. Beyond this physical life. I had to be the luckiest woman in the world to experience his love the way I did. I realize our love was an inspiration to many. I pray that you find what we found in each other. There is nothing like it.

Terrence Walker: I would always remind Main [that] he was my favorite poet. People always say there was nothing like this person or that person, but Main was definitely like no other. Anyone that knows him knows that for sure.

DeeJay Samps: Anyone that has talked to Main or had the pleasure of being interviewed by him knows he was the embodiment of what a “hip-hop head” is. He always supported [my team] and [our] music.

Eshod “Eternal the M.C.” Howard: I remember meeting up with big bro and building and playing chess together. He was a very great chess player. He told me stories about how his pops and Uncle Reggie taught him and told him that the day he beat him, he could have a vintage chessboard from Japan. mainMan still had that chessboard. We would even gather people at his house to have an impromptu chess tournament. I plan on having one in his honor when the time permits.

Mocha DrAmerie: All I can say is he inspired me to DO DOPE SHIT! #MyHipHopHero

Dasan Ahanu: mainMan is a powerful force on that stage and on the mic. But he is also one of the coolest, dopest, and authentic dudes I’ve met. It’s always been a joy to share space. I’m so glad he got to rep the Bull City. The Hayti will hold your energy in it.

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