(Photo: Adrian Sidney/PictureGroup)
Cali Swag District’s debut album, The Kickback, is finally being released by Sony/RED today, July 12. The group should be celebrating the release of their album in addition to their platinum selling hit "Teach Me How to Dougie." Instead, the three young men from Inglewood continue to mourn the death of one of their bandmates as they mark a proud moment in their brief music careers.
Twenty-two-year-old Montae “M-Bone” Talbert, was described as the “battery” of the group. He was the lead dancer and choreographer whose moves in the "Teach Me How to Dougie" video have been mimicked by everyone from CNN news host Wolf Blitzer to First Lady Michelle Obama.
"When we first started he used to dougie to the Simpsons anthem—the theme song. He could dougie to anything,” said Chante “Yung” Glee, one of the members of the group.
On May 15, as Talbert was driving to the liquor store, shots rang out, leaving the hip hop artist dead with two bullet wounds to the head.
Fellow band member Corey “C-Smoove” Fowler was driving behind Montae the night he will killed. He describes M-Bone as a fun-loving, peaceful person who was just going to the store for supplies for a party, or what Smooth called a “kickback," that the group was having.
“I just thought Bone was at the store. I hear the shots and I speed up and I don't know where the gun is being pointed.... I just hear two shots so I smashed off, and I think like, 'I just saw Bone's car back there,' so I go back. When I get back to the scene, two of our friends that he was with was standing on the curb and was like, 'Call help, get help.'”
Smoove says he immediately went to the studio to let everybody know what had happened. Some family members, however, had to learn of the tragedy via Twitter, including, Myeisha Talbert, Montae’s sister.
“I was actually at home, chilling with my friend and we were watching TV, and someone called me, and I’m like, 'Who is this?'" Talbert remembers. "It was late and they were like, 'Did you hear about your brother?' And I told them, 'What about him?' And they told me to go on Twitter and I see 'Rest in peace, M-Bone'... 'So I’m like, 'What?' I started instantly ringing their phones, like what’s going on? I called his phone… No one was answering the phone calls until my stepbrother called me and said that he heard something happened to him and they [were] about to go to the hospital right now…they were at the scene of the crime. That’s how I found out my brother was gone."
Montae’s grandmother Mary Alice Phillips still cannot fathom who would do such a thing to her grandson.
“I prayed with him and I said, 'Montae, rest in peace.' It is going to be alright,” Phillips recalls.
There are several different theories as to why Montae was murdered. Cahron “JayAre” Childs, one of the members of the group, believes it was “hate” because of the success the group had acheived. Others speculate that M-Bone was involved in a “Twitter feud” over a female or that he may have been involved with the Bloods gang. However, M-Bone’s uncle disputes that claim.
“That just doesn’t make sense to me because M-Bone and his father had a huge fight because he thought his son was banging,” said Tony Talbert. “He got involved in Cali Swag District to get out of that environment. I’m not saying it’s not true, but that it’s hard to believe given Monte’s history.”
With no current leads in the investigation, Will Salmon, the lead detective on the case, is pleading for help from the community.
“Based on our investigation, we know there’s other people who saw what happened that night, and we need them to come forward, tell us what they saw,” said Det. Salmon.
Det. Salmon isn’t alone in pleading for help.
”I pray that that person, that murderer out there, that you would come forth, because we are not going to rest,” says Grandma Phillips. “It is not going to go away. I plead the blood of Jesus that you would come forth and turn yourself in. You are a murderer, be justified in saying so. If you was man enough to do it, pull the trigger, be that man to come forth, because his family is not going away.”
INGLEWOOD POLICE ARE STILL INVESTIGATING THE MURDER OF MONTAE TALBERT AND THEY NEED YOUR HELP. IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION THAT MIGHT LEAD TO AN ARREST, CALL THE INGLEWOOD POLICE HOMICIDE TIP LINE AT: (310) 412-5246, OR THE 24-HOUR ANONYMOUS HOTLINE NUMBER 888-41-CRIME.