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Spyn x Mont Brown: A Philly Hero {Interview}


Ya girl had a timeless conversation with an artist turned Columbia Records A&R executive, who holds the keys to his city as Philidelphia's Hero for his humanitarian efforts-- THEE Lamont Brown.

FUN FACT:

This Interview dropped on Mont Brown's first ACTUAL Day in Philly.

8.19.23

Wasn't planned, that's just how God works.


I reached out to Lamont to find out more about his drive, his journey to the top, and his swag. Brown is such an awesome person and a staple in his community. As an aspiring humanitarian and fashionista, myself, it was only right to chat with the boss to elevate my game.


It was interesting to learn that Mont Brown's mother was incarcerated for over 20 years of his life, yet remains an impactful fixture for him. I was also surprised to hear about his father being friends with Will Smith, as Philly natives.


And you know we had fun with my This or That game I play at the end with my Pyns. Poyms. Poshyns. guests!


Well... enough of all my thoughts. Go ahead and enjoy Mont Brown's perspectives, points of view, and the gems he dropped. Hope you learn somethin' you can put in motion.


INTERVIEW:

SPYN: What does the day look like for a guy like yourself, a Philly Hero?


MONT: When I wake up... The first thing I do is pray, drink some water, go straight to the gym for a few hours, head to the office, after the office, to the studio, after the studio, to get another workout in, then go home. And repeat.

SPYN: You workout twice a day? That's crazy. I can't even get in the gym for a day.


MONT: Yeah, try to get it in twice a day.


SPYN: I know you speak of your Southwest, Philly neighborhood as a melting pot and your friend group being pretty diverse growing up. The people I hear of coming out of Philly, like Will Smith, Meek, Gillie, and yourself are prominent fixtures; so, where do people get this opposite and negative imagery of Philadelphia?


MONT: Well, Philly has a lot of meth users and unemployment. And it's brotherly love but there's a flip side to that as well. You know, it's poverty. It really is poverty. And when you look at the structure of these neighborhoods it's like being in a lion's den because we were living in rural homes. It's like, your neighbor right next to you, your other neighbor next to you, and neighbors across the street, and nobody is financially well off. So it's a bunch of lions in the lion's den and you throw a piece of meat and whoever gets the meat... I guess that's the one you know is the strongest. You just have to have a fighter's mentality.

But there's also so much talent in Philly, whether you're a ballplayer, Dion Waiters, the Morris Twins, an actor, Kevin Hart, Will Smith, a rapper Meek Mills, Lil Uzi, Tierra Whack. On the exec. side, Troy Carter, Mark Byers, Ryan Press, Sterling Sims, myself, Jay Brown. Fashion, Milano, Humbolt. There's a lot of us.

Oh, Eve, Jill Scott... I mean I can go on and on.


Philly is a gritty city. There is no gray area, it's either white or black. There is no in-between. And as I said, it's a fighter city. Like, Joe Frazier. You know, he was my Muhommad Ali's biggest opponent. That was his biggest battle.

Kenny Gamble always tells me, "Lamont, only the strongest survive." I always hear him say that.

SPYN: That's something to pay attention to. You put it in a different perspective, sometimes people think it's all crime but poverty is the breeding ground for that.

MONT: Yeah. I mean, if there's no food in the house, some people feel like they have to go take from others, and the people you're taking from have to protect themselves. It's just one of those things.


SPYN: I see what you mean. And through that experience, how did you begin your journey as an artist and music executive? When did you know your purpose would be fulfilled through artistry?

MONT: I started loving music super early. I saw Run DMC at Aerosmith with LL Cool J and NWA. When I saw all that, I didn't know what it was. I was a kid, but it made me feel good. It moved me. I liked the fashion, the Adidas, the Raiders hats, you know, the flannels they were wearing.

SPYN: All the fly shit. Then, Fresh Prince came out the gate wearing the coolest shit in the show?


MONT: Yeah! My dad was friends with Will Smith. Will wrote a book and mentioned my dad in it. Actually, my dad was the person that gave Will the money to relocate to Los Angeles.


SPYN: Wow, that's a big deal.

MONT: Yeah, it is. But I fell in love with music and fashion. I fell in love with both at the same exact time.


SPYN: I watched one of your interviews as I was doing some research and studying. And out of the three, you were asked what would you choose between fashion, music or... I can't remember the third one. But you were like, 'That's like asking me to pick between like my mother, father, and grandmother. It's hard to do.' So, you can tell that you love the culture, and all of that folds in together.

MONT: Oh, yeah!!! It was music, fashion, and humanitarian work. Yeah, that's my life. That sums me up. Nothing more nothing less, but those three, and family. But definitely those three.

SPYN: I see where you're going with your brand. From there, how did you become an A&R for Columbia Records?


MONT: I was an artist first. When I was doing music, I was one of the big artists in the city. I went on tour with Meek, a college tour. And while I was on tour, I got a different perspective on the music industry. I learned about brand management, brand deals, advertisement, having a good attorney, and booking agents. I was intrigued. And from that moment, I wanted to get on the executive side.

The lifespan of an artist is short but the lifespan of an executive is long.

And I just love music, no matter if I'm helping someone get on, whatever form it is, I love music. I just said, 'You know what? I'm gonna hop to this side so I can help others get in position.' And that's what I did.

SPYN: That's a perfect response to lead into my next question. As a Philly hero with the keys to the city, What was the creation process like for your Kickback Festival?

Was that the beginning of you saying, "Okay, I need to step over here and create opportunities?" Did you expect Kickback Festival to pop off like that?

MONT: Yep! I was driving back from North Carolina, toward the end of the tour. And I was like, 'There are so many dope artists in Philly, man.' We got people like TJ Adams, the kid that played ODB in the Wutang series. There are so many artists, painters, actors, and rappers, in Philly that didn't have a platform. So I talked to my guy, Yusef Mohammed, he was the number one concert promoter, back then. I told him I was trying to do this. He was like, "Yo, man. You gotta do it yourself."

Then he had a show on South Street with, I think, Camron or DMX. And I booked out the skateboard store across the street with all Philly acts.

He ended up calling me like, 'You shut my event down, bro. Everybody came to your store instead of mine."

After that, we became really good friends and he taught me the game of promoting concerts or festivals. Mohamed played a major part in me doing the kickback festivals. If he didn't say no if he would have said yeah, I wouldn't have gone through everything I went through.

That's a gem for people, sometimes no ain't a bad thing.


SPYN: Where do you see your talents and humanity taking you in the next five years?

MONT: I heard Nip say, "As human beings, one of the number one things to do as people is to inspire".

And I wholeheartedly agree with that. I just want to aspire and show people where I'm from, you know, not even necessarily where I'm from, but no matter where you're from, no matter what you look like, you can accomplish anything. Just put God first let him do his 50% and you put your 50% in.


For me, it's like, of course, I want to be where I want to be, but I really do leave that up to God and don't get in his way. I let the big homie do his thing. So, Wherever I'm gonna be in five years, whatever I'm doing... That's what he had planned for me.


SPYN: I love that and I can't wait to see what happens on that journey.


Shoutout to your family, especially your grandmothers for instilling humanity in your heart. You talk a lot about your grandmother's being a safe space for the community, giving what they had when they had it. I also know they taught you how to put it on and your whole family can dress. When they see you on this large scale in the fashion game what are the conversations like? Are they like, "Yo, Mont, what the fuck?"

MONT: Nah.. everybody in my family knows how to dress. My grandma was the one! My dad knew how to dress and so did my mom. I get my style from my dad and my grandpop. My grandpop still dresses the way he did back in the day-- Slacks, some shoes, a dress shirt.


SPYN: Yo!! Your loafer game is ridiculous. Might I add?


MONT: Yeah, I get it from them. That's how they used to dress back in the day. Even when you look at The Sopranos, the gangsters, and basketball players in the 80's and the 70's, that's how they presented themselves. I'm not a kid, I'm not about to be sagging my pants and wearing Michael Jordan sneakers. Nothing against that but that ain't what I'm on. My family knows what it is just like my community knows what it is, everybody who knows me knows what it is. I get dressed. I love fashion. I love taking chances. I love being me. That's it.


SPYN: Can we ever expect a Mont Brown collection in the future?

MONT: Oh, yeah!! I had the whole city wearing my clothes. I'm gonna release it in September 2023. It's done. My shit is done. The sneakers are done. Everything is done.

SPYN: Sheesh! I can't wait. You know, I need a couple of pieces for sure. I'll be tapped into that.


SPYN: With your mother incarcerated for most of your life... Wait, do I have that right?


MONT: Yeah, it was like 20 to 24 years.


SPYN: Okay, I started this femininity blog for my girls to tap into their softer selves. So, I have to ask, with your mother incarcerated but both of your grandmothers present, what was your perception of womanhood as an adolescent boy?


MONT: I was girl crazy. My grandma was tough love. She taught me to tell it how it is. There was no beating around the bush.

...Then, my mom was locked up. I feel like I was always looking for love, looking for that void. But my uncle married a girl in the neighborhood and they moved from South Philly to Southwest, but me and her little brothers were already close. We lived in the same neighborhood and called each other cousins. Their mother, whom I call grandma, was so loving. She gave me that love and affection. I always had strong females in my family that held me down, for sure.

SPYN: So, when dating what shows you that a woman is aware of and knows how to use her feminine power?


MONT: I think we're in different times right now. A lot of people will say it but I don't think people love unconditionally, anymore. That's the power, though, but there are boundaries on it now.


SPYN: Yep. I think there's been this new perception where you have so much time and so many options. Nobody wants to work for it anymore.


MONT: Yeah, when you first are talking to somebody and they say, 'These are my non-negotiables. This is what I'm not accepting, and this, and this, and this,' it's like, 'Well, damn, you're not leaving space for trial and error.'

SPYN: People don't spend enough time being friends first. Nobody feels timid to jump into sex. Then, you realize you wouldn't even be cool with that person daily. When you are friends with a person, it'll help you see if you can love them unconditionally or not. We have brought an influencer mentality to our love relationships and don't give people a chance.


Can I be silly around you? If you take me on a date to an arcade, will you act like a little bitch from what you lose? How honest are you? People see, 'Oh, he does this. He's into that. This is what I can get out of this situation. Then you're like, 'Damn, I don't even really like this person, for real.'

MONT: Yeah, yeah, I think social media fucked a lot of stuff up. People got these expectations. You know, people gotta be really patient. Just because like you see a lit relationship on Instagram doesn't mean that's gonna be yours. That's not even fair.


SPYN: You gotta come with the vibes. Are you even enjoyable to be around? Are we going to have fun just walking through Target? Or is everything gonna feel like a nag?


MONT: You know, in past relationships, it felt too forced. "Let's do this. Let's do that. I want to do a double date." It's like, 'Yo, Relax!' I ain't on that.

SPYN: Exactly. We rush too much to take people off the market and make them just... OURS.

MONT: Yo!! That's it, right there! That's it right there. I heard Lauren London speak on that.

SPYN: You don't possess people, you experience them. Right? - Lauren London

MONT: Exactly. That's a turn-off. It's like, 'Yo, bro. You gotta let me breathe'. Because we are still who we are as individuals. And when you feel like he's mine or she's mine, I can't even breathe. I'm suffocating.


SPYN: Right, and how do you treat something that's yours? I don't hold onto my purse all day. I make sure it's clean. I put my necessities in it. And it's there when I need to buy something, show my ID, put some lip gloss on, hold my piece, or whatever it is. You don't sit there and hold something all day just because it's yours. People want to possess but don't pour into the possession.


MONT: Yeah, and you gotta be patient. You can't put me on your schedule when you think I should be on your time or when I should be on your level. A lot of that shit is for Instagram, or whatever. I'm not with that.


SPYN: Well, that was my last question for our interview, but I do play a 45-second game of this or that at the end of each one. Just choose your best answer... ready?

MONT: Just which one I like the most?


SPYN: Yep.


THIS or THAT


Early mornings or Late Nights?

Late Nights.

High fashion or Urban Fashion?

Mmm... High fashion.

Overseas or Stateside?

Ahh.. I'ma say stateside.

Writing or Recording?

Writing.


East Coast or West Coast?

Ha! You're killing me. East Coast, man. Philly all day.


Block party or House Party?

Damn... Block Parties.


Underground or Mainstream?

Underground.


Alone or with a group?

Alone.

Describe femininity in one word.

My grandmother.


A quote you'd like to be remembered by?

All actions!

What's happening on Mont Brown's day in Philly, August 19th, 2023?

We're giving back to the community, bookbags, school supplies. We will have free food, drinks, and music for the whole community. Just a day that we bring the community together, not only to highlight me and my takeaways but to highlight community activists and other humanitarians.

SPYN: I wish I could be there, but I can't. So I'm hoping you have a great turnout and a great day. That was it. That's the end of the interview. I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you so much.

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