On Nov. 11, 2020, Mo3 was shot and killed on Interstate 35 in Oak Cliff. The North Dallas rapper, born Melvin Noble, was gunned down in daylight by a driver who pulled up next to him in traffic and sprayed his vehicle with bullets.
Mo3’s car crashed into a concrete barrier before coming to a halt. He jumped out and fled on foot, and his killer followed and opened fire, shooting him in the head. He died in the hospital from his injuries at age 28.
Mo3's career was set to break out. He had a solid base of Dallas fans and industry co-signs from rappers like Boosie Badazz to prove it. One year later, his fans have adopted the hashtags #LongLive3, #LL3 and #LongLiveMO3 to share their favorite songs and memories of him. His music and his acting career were just starting to reach the mainstream.
Mo3’s last achievement was starring in a film written and directed by Mista E. Mo3 appears in Triple D Revenge with co-stars Roderick Watson and Brandon Christle, playing a character named Draco. The film is described as an urban drama that follows a young, illiterate man looking to avenge a family member who was murdered by a drug lord. “Mo3, he did acting classes with us and everything,” Mista E told Reallyfe Productions in an interview. “He was real serious about it. He expressed to me that it was always something that he wanted to do.”
His move to diversify his brand beyond music was a sign his star was getting brighter. His first posthumous album, Shottaz 4eva, dropped in April, and the deluxe version came in August. The project contains two of his biggest songs right now: “Outside (Better Days)” with OG Bobby Billions and “In My Blood” with Morray. Both songs are often played during Dallas hip-hop shows to honor Mo3’s life.
Mo3 never let his fans have a dry period and frequently released singles and mixtapes throughout his career. He has left a catalogue worth revisiting, whether you’re a dedicated fan or someone who is just now recognizing his talent. His ability to remain true to the streets that raised him is why he’s beloved by many. Here are 10 essential songs you should listen to from the late rapper.
“Hold Ya Tongue” (2014)
“Hold Ya Tongue” is a remake of West Dallas Chefa and Mr. Lucci’s “Half Steppin’.” Mo3 makes a reference to the 2001 song in his beginning verse, rapping, “You niggas better not come half-steppin’/’cause we got something that’ll speed ya up/and watch them hollow points eat ya up.” He shouts out being from the “Nutty,” a slang word for a neighborhood on the north side of Dallas, and specifically names the Forest Lane area. “I’m from the Lane, Forest Lane gang/slang caine/get twisted up like a McFlurry!” he raps.
The video for “Hold Ya Tongue” includes cameos by Mr. Lucci and Big Chief. It was shot on location in Stoney Brook apartments, his childhood home and the former apartment complex of Dallas underground legends Mr. Lucci and Mr. Pookie. The song displays his versatility by blending street melodies and rapping, and it perseveres Dallas hip-hop history for the modern listener.
“Letter to My Mama” (2016)
“Letter to My Mama” is similar in subject matter to 2Pac’s “Dear Mama,” an appreciation to his mother who raised him during hard times. Mo3 shares a biographical perspective on the song about his days at “Stoney Crook,” selling drugs to make ends meet and splitting a four-piece meal with his partners from Big Mama’s Chicken and Waffles. He thanks his mama for carrying him for nine months and birthing him into this world, promising to “climb to greatness” before he’s gone. Its sincerity is enough motivation for you to write your own letter to your mom.
“And I” (2017)
Several days after Mo3 was killed, fans made a connection that he predicted his own death in his 2017 song “True Story.” The video starts with him lying down in a morgue and a coroner telling someone over the phone that “he got shot, heading home in his own city.”
“And I” makes another reference to his death. “Gotta watch my back cause they plottin’ to gun me down,” he says in a singsong cadence. Later, he faces his enemies head on. “Niggas plot on me, get shot in they sleep/Solo mission and I’m gone,” he raps. While “And I” implies Mo3 is a gangsta (not a snitch) with a soft heart, he seemed well aware of who was watching him as he grew more successful.
Off the third installment of his Shottaz mixtape series, “Everybody” is a street hustler’s paranoia on front street. Mo3 makes it very clear that he doesn’t trust anyone, crooning:
“Everybody ain’t your friend/Everybody ain’t your partna/Everybody ain’t no real nigga/If I say I got ya, I got ya.” When men and women have done him dirty before, it’s hard for Mo3 to open his circle again. Boosie Badazz, an associate of Mo3 who went on to make collaborative projects with him, hopped on the remix of “Everybody” and delivered a brutally honest verse. Mo3 previously told the Dallas Observer in 2016 that Boosie’s co-sign blessed his game and that it was a dream come true for him, resulting in a fruitful relationship in music.
“Love Myself” (2018)
With the respect of the streets behind him, Mo3 joined the likes of Lil Wayne, Jeezy and Tyler, the Creator in securing a Gangsta Grillz mixtape. In 2018, Mo3 dropped 911: Gangsta Grillz, a bar-heavy tape for the North Dallas representers that had him going apeshit on songs like “Outside.” A deep cut from the tape is “Love Myself,” empowering one to not look for companionship elsewhere because you’re capable of doing it yourself. Self-love is the Mo3 motto.
“Long Time Coming” (2019)
Mo3 worked hard to get the recognition he deserved. The themes of perseverance and overcoming adversity are heard on the Sam Cooke-sampling “Long Time Coming.” His oldest fans say this song is one of his best, with storytelling lyrics that hit your soul and a message to keep your head up even during the darkest times. “I got the game from my old head/but he ain’t tell me ‘bout the snow/he only told me ‘bout the rain/he ain’t tell me niggas cold,” he raps. Pain produces triumph.
“Lil Mexico” (2020)
Once you reach a certain point in the rap game, all you want to do is flex your riches and tell your haters that you got it. Mo3 does exactly that on “Lil Mexico,” a hard-hitting banger that takes aim at his opps. “Once I upon a time I had a breakdown/fell off and got back on I got cake now/I’m trying to get you bitches out the way/I’m getting paid every motherfuckin’ day,” he sings. Mo3 doesn’t take his foot off the gas.
“Mop Wit It” (2020)
Boosie Badazz and Mo3 collabs are abundant, and you can spend hours going through a YouTube wormhole to find more. “Mop Wit It,” off Badazz MO3, is one of their better songs, dedicated to staying strapped, getting money and taking care of business.
“Black Corona” (2020)
When rappers were making clickbait songs about coronavirus last year, Mo3 changed the approach and made something more meaningful. Initially released as a freestyle in early March 2020, Mo3’s official version delivers on substance, talking about the people he’s lost and the ways the system has failed his community. To him, coronavirus is just another struggle that his people must face. “They tellin’ lies, they got us watching for a virus/but fuck corona, my people still live in poverty,” he sings. “Black Corona” is two truths working in harmony, and it’s an unfortunate reality that rings true.
“Slide on Em” (2021)
His recent re-release of Shottaz 4Eva, the deluxe version, contained eight new tracks including “In My Blood” with Morray, “Broken Hearted” and “Slide on Em,” which has one of the rare videos after his passing that has behind-the-scenes footage of Mo3 recording in the studio. In it, we see just how charismatic and personable he really was. “Slide on Em” interpolates Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It,” giving a mellower backdrop for Mo3’s menacing rhymes about a premeditated murder. Mo3 had a lot of enemies, and he wasn’t afraid to speak about them publicly — a sign of a true street soldier ready for war.