The Break Presents: Mir Fontane
For many rappers, getting signed is a big deal. It's the dream moment for most MCs trying to make it big in the industry.
Mir Fontane, a 23-year-old rhymer from Camden, N.J., processed his shining moment a little differently than most. For him, the moment he signed his deal with 300 Entertainment was difficult to take in since it meant it was actually just the beginning of his path to hip-hop stardom.
"Getting signed is kind of hard to explain," he tells XXL while passing through New York City. "In my mind, I always knew one day it was going to happen but when it actually did happen, it was hard to generalize what was really happening. I was kind of numb to the situation... And because it wasn’t like a big thing like I thought it was going to be, like you go into this board room and it’s like 50 people in there and it’s like 30 champagne bottles in there that’s ready to pop as soon as you sign.
"It wasn’t any of that. It kind of kept me focused and humble because once you get signed, it’s just the beginning. You work this hard just to start the game. It kept me leveled. It’s kind of cool to see other people getting inspiration from me. Even to this day, it still hasn’t hit me yet -- probably when my album drops. You just got to keep thuggin’ and keep it going."
The rapper, born Jamir Daaliya, has released a handful of mixtapes in the last couple of years, showing off his penchant for melodies, storytelling and using different sounds. He began to turn heads when he released his He So Crazy mixtape in 2014, which was a 12-track project influenced by the Martin show. Last year, things began to bubble for him even more when he dropped his Who’s Watching the Kids mixtape.
Just last month, he signed his deal with 300 Entertainment and is now focused on taking his career to the next level. Get to know who Mir Fontane is XXL's The Break.
Name: Mir Fontane
Hometown: Camden, N.J.
I grew up listening to: “Before I got into hip-hop, I got into a lot of 1990’s R&B and farther back, mainly because my grandfather drove me to school every day and we listened to [radio host] Tom Joyner in the morning. So any old school Isley Brothers, Minnie Riperton, Al Green, Luther Vandross. But as I got into hip-hop it was the basics, 2Pac, Biggie, Big L, Nas, I just loved anyone that told a story because I feel like stories last forever. That means music is going to last forever.
"50 Cent, Lil Wayne when I started getting into bars and establishing my personality as a rapper. Kanye West when it came to individuality and how I carry myself. It was pretty much those guys. Earliest memory of me rapping I am in middle school, not doing working for whatever reason. We used to sit in a circle and we would just crack on each other but we’ll spit punch lines. We’ll rap and it had to rhyme. If you didn’t you were eliminated.
"It was so easy because I was always so witty with words. I was always funny but I always like to challenge myself. The girls liked it because I was funny... Then I realized I was nice with the pen. From there it was a wrap and I wanted to make music and actually tell stories and people's stories who couldn’t tell their stories. I started taking things serious in high school when I got my heart broke. Once I got my heart broke it was a wrap, I had something I wanted to say and I had no other way to say it.
"Before rap I was drawing. I can draw really well. You can only draw for so much. You want other people to understand and hear and not get their own interpretations from what you drew. I pretty much just picked up the pen and I was trying to get her attention with the rap. At the time, everybody was a rapper. I ended up getting everyone’s attention but her. I believe ever since that moment that’s been my drive for everything I do; the fact that she didn’t believe I could do something. I don’t like when people do that. You can hear it in my music sometimes when I reflect back to that. It's just cool that [my career] is genuine working, I just love the music now. So it’s not even about females or other people anymore."
My style’s been compared to: “Lately Travis Scott. It’s probably because the way that I look though, I heard Travis a lot. I hear A$AP Rocky. My thought process has been compared to Kanye. I hear a lot. It's usually around those areas. I get J. Cole, someone said Beanie Sigel one time and I thought that was hilarious. But yeah, I think I sound like me. My voice, and I’ve been since I was 16 years old, they said I have a unique voice for like voiceovers. I didn’t get it. I just thought I had a deep voice but for whatever reason they said my voice standout.
"My music, the type of stuff I create isn’t being created and if it is, it isn’t as deep as how I get into my music. Life keeps happening so there’s always stuff to write about. Like there will be always be love songs but what’s deeper than love, like the specific details of the situation. For instance, I made 'Space Jam.' It was about how the woman that you’re with doesn’t really trust anybody, she has trust issues but she wants to love you. That’s a whole song right there instead of being a generic love song. I take pride in getting in the details."
Most people don’t know: “That I could draw; outside of music people don’t know I’m visually-inclined. I think now people know I can sing. When I first started rapping, a lot of people didn’t know I could sing. So I start using it more into my music."
My standout records to date have been: “'Down By the River.' The song is based off of a true story. When I was making it I wanted it to keep the essence of me being a storyteller while still making a catchy song. I pretty much reflected back to to my childhood. When I was younger, I used to watch the girls playing double dutch. They would recite 'Down By the River with the Hanky Panky' and I pretty much took that and converted it to something nostalgic but at the same time I got my point across with the song and hopefully that would be something stuck in your head.
"I tried to keep the grittiness with the innocence of that double dutch song and see what would happen. And when I gave it to the people I didn’t think a lot of people would know where I got the tune from but they did. I tried to keep the story dark but wanted it to be the best song that was on the album."
My goal in hip-hop is: “My goal in music is to leave a stamp even when I’m gone and people are going to say, 'When Mir Fontane was in the game, this is how he changed it.' Even if it’s something minor. Like Soulja Boy left a mark in the game like Ringtone Rap and getting signed off the Internet. My main goal is to try to bring lyricism and storytelling back in the game and keep it here because I feel like that’s falling off and this generation coming up doesn’t really have that guy they can latch on.
"Kendrick drops every four years, J. Cole too. Or [even a rapper] around their age range. There’s nobody that fills that void right now. I want to be able to do that."
I’m going to be the next: “I’m going to be the next 2Pac. I believe 2Pac because of the way I carry myself off of the microphone. I’m not one of these rappers that just happened to rap. If you ask the golden question [to me] you’re going to get the right answer. You’re not going to get a politically correct answer. I’m more so for the people and the culture. A lot of people bit their tongue because they are scared of their stardom or whatever happens after they leave the interview, but 2Pac never wavered.
"He always stood his ground; he always stood for his beliefs. I want to be that. I want to be the guy people talk about 20 years from now not only because of the music but also because of the person you are."
Standouts: "Down By the River"
"Before the Locs"
Who's Watching the Kids
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