All Have Diamonds that are Undiscovered
By Damone "Monebone" Johnson, Prisonersolidarity.org
May 19, 2007
Ever since I was a youngin' I've been in and out of the system.
For a long time I felt like I was trapped in this life of crime
"till I die." This was my mentality and I was dedicated
to it whole-heartedly. At the age of 18 I was sent to prison for
felonious assault and when I received my time I realized that the
adult system (in contrast to the juvenile system) was not going
to just slap me on the wrists.
name is Damone Johnson. Everyone calls me "Monebone."
I am an aspiring songwriter/rap artist. After I received my prison
sentence I told myself that "something has to give" (someone
told me a long time ago "if you continue to do what you you've
always done, you'll continue to get what you've always gotten").
my first couple of years in prison I 'wild out.' Fighting correctional
officers was my M.O., till the day I die. That was my mindset. Everyday
it was me versus the system. Me versus the c/o.s. Me versus everyone
that was on the other side of the fence. If you had any affiliation
with law enforcement we became enemies automatically. After three
years of constantly fighting the system I eventually went into retirement.
man in his right mind can withstand being maced, extracted from
cells, buried in segregation and humiliated for only so long. By
being ready to make a change, and through quite a bit of soul-searching,
I witnessed a change come about from within. Instead of reacting
to situations physically I began to pour my soul out on paper in
the form of songs.
song I write captured my raw emotions (my anger, my pain, my hatred,
was all displayed in verses and chorus). Once a song was completed
I asked my peers to give me their opinions. Most of 'em liked it.
Most of 'em encouraged me to keep writing. This was a new beginning
for me. The more encouragement I got the better my songs became.
Without even noticing my attitude was changing.
was getting fewer tickets, having less run ins with the c/os, and
I had started looking forward to my future. Writing raps gave me
an opportunity for escape and for the most part all that clowning
was over with. Eventually, I ended up writing a song called "Ridah"
To all who've heard it they can vouch for it being an anthem. I'd
started taking my talent seriously.
my dudes used to say, "Mone, don't waste your gift." Now,
here I was, stuck at the crossroads. My choices were either to be
a thug on the streets or a rapper in the industry. To me, the second
option seemed more rewarding, so I chose to rap. As much as living
the street life was still in my heart, I was not willing to go back
and forth, in and out of the system. I knew that if I wanted to
make it in the industry I had to do my homework. Within a couple
of months I had a few albums written, and a plan.
now have a way out. In the very near future I'll be getting released,
and if I remain focused on my goals I will not fall victim to recidivism.
The reason I'm posting this article is because I want to inspire
someone to follow their passion. These prisons are full of brothers
with massive potential. Don't give up on yourself. Whether you have
one year or one hundred years, you can still remain a factor in
this game of life.
encourage you the same way that I was encouraged. Everyone is not
a songwriter, but everyone does have a gift to share with the world.
As a prisoner, myself, I had to learn a few lessons before I was
ready to change. Humbleness goes a long way, as does respect. If
you are truly ready to experience happiness within, it will begin
with soul searching (respect and humbleness are key ingredients
I'll be leaving prison, but before my departure I want to sweep
the old Monebone under the rug. I am now a grown man. I am a rap
star. Society needs people with my substance. The radio needs a
quality voice, and I am it. I've prepared myself to make an impact
on the world. It won't be long before you hear my record spinning
on your local station, so keep your ear to the speaker. Oh, yeah,
remember that we all have diamonds undiscovered. We just have to
look for them.
The Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd.
Youngstown, OH 44505
"Monebone" Johnson is a prisoner at the Ohio State Penitentiary.
He's a 23-year-old and from Cincinnati, Ohio, who has aspirations
of going into the music industry. Mr. Johnson has been in prison
for six years and has consistently been trying to better himself.
If you wish to correspond with Damone, he would welcome your mail
at the above address. If you are involved in a community group that
helps ex-prisoners to avoid recidivism, or if you are affiliated
with a radio station, recording studio, or in any way with the music
industry, Mr. Johnson would be extremely honored to hear from you.
The following link offers tips for writing to prisoners: http://prisonersolidarity.org/TipsForWritingPrisoners.htm