Jul 13, 2021
MonoNeon (born Dwyane Thomas Jr.) was one of the last musicians to collaborate with Prince. That may not be how you’re familiar with him, though, if at all. A mind-bending bass player, MonoNeon has gained viral notoriety for finding oddball clips of people talking (or ranting or getting high), transcribing them to music and then playing along with the speakers, note for note on his bass. (One of his favorite people to mimic is Cardi B—especially her social media musings.) His Instagram posts have gotten shoutouts from Questlove and Eddie Murphy for the comedic punch they deliver. But they couldn’t have been pulled off at all were it not for his technical wizardry.
Himself the son of a bass guitarist, Thompson began playing at 4, and before he turned 13 had played with Bar-Kays before briefly attending the Berklee School of Music. It wasn’t before long that his idiosyncratic style (he plays the bass upside-down, right-handed, with heavy psychedelic-funk influences) caught Prince’s ear. The Purple One hired him to join Paisley Park’s house band and recorded the track “RUFF ENUFF” with him.
More recently, Thompson contributed to “All Bad” on Nas’ Grammy-winning “King’s Disease” album, and played on Grammy-nominee Jacob Collier’s song “In My Bones.” His own releases have veered towards the silly (yet funky) on jams like “Hot Cheetos” and “Women, Water and Weed.”
Earlier this year, he dropped “Supermane,” his most fully-realized solo work, an EP loaded with P-Funk sounds filtered through ’80s synth pop and general weirdness. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, no slouch himself, has called Thompson “the greatest fucking electric bass player.”