Camden, New Jersey is a rough city to grow up in- I would know, my father was born there. A budding emcee by the name of Mir Fontane has beat the odds to make a name for both himself, and Camden.
His breakout singles, “Wanni Wag” and “Space Jam” have further bolstered Mir’s music and movement and have earned him cosign from the likes of Sway Calloway and more. Read our conversation on early beginnings, his music and sports below.
RESPECT.: How was life growing up in Camden, New Jersey?
Mir: That was pretty much all I knew growing up because I didn’t grow up anywhere else. It was pretty much a tight community, everybody knew everybody. It definitely was more innocent in the eyes of a child than it is now. Growing up, it felt like a community but as you got older it changes. People change, circumstances change and life hits you, things get a little bit more real.
RESPECT.: When did you start taking music seriously?
I don’t know if you would call it making music but around in middle school. We use to roast each other and crack jokes. The way we did it was it was strictly punchlines, you would have to set it up and say whatever you were going to say as a punchline. That wasn’t really rapping as in hooks and song structure go that didn’t start until I was in high school. I was trying to impress the girls, one girl specifically. That didn’t work out [laughs] but I found out I had a gift for telling stories and saying things in a certain way that could reach a lot of people. That brought me joy and it was fun for me, music is definitely something that changed my life.
RESPECT.: What were some of your early influences musically back then or now?
Back when I first started my influences were Lil Wayne, Kanye West, 50 Cent. I found common ground with them because they were all storytellers. The way they rapped was just cool as hell to me, it was either punchlines or the way they said something was just so cool and I just wanted to be that guy. As I got older and got more into what I wanted to do musically I look up to Drake, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West still. I grab a lot of inspiration from the people in hip-hop that’s trying to push things forward and not keep doing the same shit we’ve been doing since nineteen whatever. Mainly the people that incorporate rapping and singing that are trying to find their own sound, if you can find your own sound in this day and age that’s something I can respect.
RESPECT.: We saw that you were on Sway in the Morning, and received a co-sign from him. How did that feel?
That was like a dream come true, I remember when I use to watch Sway early in the morning before I went to school. I used to always want to be on there, but you know growing up in the hood that’s a pipe dream and is only going to come into fruition by you saying that. So when it actually happened it was surreal to be in that moment and not making a fool of myself thank god. I just saw myself doing what I thought I could do when I was dreaming about it in the back of the classroom.
RESPECT.: Ish Williams is a frequent collaborator, can you explain to the people who don’t follow what he is to you?
Ish Williams is my brother outside of music we pretty much grew up together when it comes to music. We figured out what works and we put our heads together to take the south side to the next level. Like myself Ish has a very unique voice, so when we actually make music together its fun because I’m working with a friend. Also it’s an experience that you want to keep doing over and over.
RESPECT.: Your last release Who’s Watching the Kids, explain the creative process that went behind articulating that project?
I did a lot of walking around Camden and listening to beats. I did that because I wanted to create a soundtrack for my city. I tend to do that a lot I like to walk around and write while listening to instrumentals. I can’t really write to my best extent while sitting down head into the notepad or my phone just trying to come up with bars. When I came up with who’s watching the kids I didn’t want to come up with another eco-crazy theme or tell a story from another perspective. I wanted to get a little more personal with this album, so I pretty much did a lot of soul searching. Also how I could be perceived to the public as Mir Fontane, what story could I give you all. I still have plenty of stories but it’s stuff I’m trying to save for my debut album, but this album was pretty much dedicated to all of those who have been with me since day one. It was a challenge with myself to try and open up and just give people a classic album so they wouldn’t have to skip one song.
RESPECT.: Did you watch the Olympics? Are you usually a big sports guy?
I usually do watch the Olympics but this year I haven’t really been watching it. Maybe it’s because I don’t like this year’s basketball team. But I’m a very big sports fan I love basketball first and foremost football is okay but I think basketball is king in every sport in my opinion. I like the 76ers because A.I. was there, but when he left it was kind of like alright well…you know what I mean. I guess I’m going to stick with the Sixers we got Ben Simmons, but my favorite player of all time is LeBron James. I just want to keep seeing that man win rings.
RESPECT.: If you had to pick a rap starting five who would be in it?
Lil Wayne, Kanye, Tupac, J. Cole, Jay-Z.
RESPECT.: What can we expect moving forward and for the rest of 2016?
You can expect a hell of a lot more music, surprises, and merchandise. I got a lot of surprises coming up I don’t want to give too much away. But definitely expect more music on the way before the end of the year.
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