“I ain’t hating, I just wanna be your favorite / Understand that I’m a legend in the making.” Insert Mir Fontane, who’s here to put Camden, South Jersey on the map. Aside from his natural ability to spit truth into his bars and lyrics, the 25-year-old proves his versatility by bringing in melodic undertones that not only sound good, but feel good as well. Read more…
In 2016, real name Jamir Daaliya unleashed his mixtape titled Who’s Watching The Kids, which threw his name into the mix of buzzing artists on the rise. Now, the “Frank Ocean” artist readies his forthcoming project with his new family at Empire, without letting his foot off the gas medal one put.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
I fall in the middle. I take pride in storytelling while also taking pride in my melodic flows, etc. I grew up on old school R&B but I fell in love with the storytelling and lyricism of hip-hop. I molded myself around that type of element.
How long have you been making music?
Probably 7 or 8 years now.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
You definitely have to come out here. This is where everybody is, the energy out here is different. Especially in New Jersey, everybody is mean and to themselves. When you come over here, everybody’s looking to build. Everybody’s doing something on their own. Everybody has their own thing going on. You get to connect minds. In Jersey, everybody is trying to pull each other down and climb on top of each other, just to figure out how to get out of whatever bubble is surrounding New Jersey right now.
What’s your favorite part of LA?
I wanted to say the weather, but it disappointed me this time around. I hate the rain, it’s so depressing. If it’s not the marijuana laws, the people. The fact that everybody’s working. It’s a busy town for millennials. Everybody has their own startup on what they want to do. They all have their own vision on becoming something bigger than what they already are, which is something rare. You don’t see that much from people back home. Everywhere you turn, somebody is into doing something.
Who have you tapped in with out here?
Mike Zombie, Charlie Heat. Might go chill with. Tdot Illdude, Marisa Mendez, etc. We just out here working. Trying to meet new people, new connects.
What point did you realize this was forreal?
It had to be for real once I dropped out of college. That’s when I was like “this is real and this is what I want to do.” I made a big life decision and decided not to pursue the traditional route of 4-year degree. It was big for me because my grandpops was an educator all his life. He was a high school teacher. That’s pretty much my dad in my life.
What’s crazy is, I went to Rutgers and he ended up going back to school at 60 something years old. He became the teacher that teaches the teachers at Rutgers. He has his doctorate degree in Education. That was the biggest leap I had to take. That was a sacrifice. I had to take those punches like “are you sure this is what you want to do?” All of that.
What year were you?
2013, I was on my way into my junior year. I was studying to be a video game designer. Another reason I dropped out was because I was there for 2.5 years and didn’t do anything with my major. I was just there spending money. I’m in middle of a Philosophy or Organized Crime class, stuff I didn’t really need or care about. I felt like I could spend this time making music and really breaking down the wall.
Have you been independent this whole time?
We were back and forth with 300 Ent. Currently signed with Empire now.
I was listening to “Down By The River,” which is extremely personal. Talk about opening up in your songs.
You have to open up in the music. I found my music can be therapeutic to other people. They might be going through a situation. Even if I’m writing about a situation that may not be happening to me at that time, it’s happening to one of my fans for sure. They’ll always reach out and tell me how I helped them through a dark time, or this song is always going to hold a memory because of this. It’s real important to be honest with your fans, be forthcoming with them because then they feel connected. They feel a relation. When you winning, they’re winning, because they’re that close to you.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Well all of my life, I always thought that it was really cliché that “you could do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.” Even as a kid, I was realistic. The kids wanted to be president, I’m like “I doubt it.” I picked something practical. I wanted to make video games because I was good at drawing. When I took that leap and decided to try this rap stuff, it was off of faith that I could do it. We’re going to figure it out and address situations as they come, then it actually started to unfold and happen for me.
As cliché as it sounds, you can really do something you set your mind out to do. Especially coming from where I came from, I thought it’d be so far-fetched. Nobody cared about Jersey, let alone this city. For everything to happen the way it is — I’m in LA right now, this shit’s dope. It could happen for anybody.
What is your creative process?
Depending on what type of song I’m making, I like to be alone. Have the headphones on and just listen to the beat. I’ll make the cadence without saying words. Little hums or moans just to get how I want it to sound, then I’ll put the words into it or find what concept I want to do. If it’s going to be rap and no melody, I’ll usually write it down in my Notes.
Right now in my phone, I have a Note that says “write a song about a guy who’s walking to his friend’s house but he’s being followed by somebody else.” Kind of playing on the Trayvon Martin thing, but the whole song’s from the perspective of a voicemail he’s leaving on his friend’s phone. It’s fucking him up. As the song goes on, his voice intensifies. You hear everything.
That’s just one idea I had. I’ll write stuff down if I get inspired but I don’t have the beat. I don’t want to force the beat because I don’t know what it sounds like. When I know, I’m like, “I want to do that to that.” That’s how “Down by the River” really came about. I had the idea on the cadence from a song from my childhood. I wanted to make it dark and just tell a story.
3 things you need in the studio?
Hennessy, weed, and it can’t be too loud. I can’t have a lot of people in the studio because they take my energy. I feel like that outside of music though. If I’m out too long at a party or a club, I feel like I’m being drained. I can’t be around a lot of people for too long, I hate crowded spaces. After a while, I need to be alone so I can recharge. Not technically sleep, but just be by myself and gather myself. I don’t like being around a lot of people, especially if I have to create. It’s too much going on.
How important is social media for your career?
Social media’s important for everybody’s career. Social media is taking over everything. That’s the first thing your fans see. I read an article that said “if your fans don’t see you winning, they automatically think you’re losing.” The only way to show them you’re working is through social media nowadays. If your social media’s not right or you’re not doing what they expect you — “living the life” or whatever, playing the role — then they’ll think “oh he must be fucked up.” Or “things must not be going the way he expected it.” But it’s also a good way to stay in touch with your fans and keep that close relationship.
Favorite song to perform in a set?
Probably “Frank Ocean.” I love performing “Frank Ocean.” It used to be “Down by the River,” but “Frank Ocean” came and like you said, it’s a vibe. The way the song is even set up — when I perform it in front of crowds, especially crowds that already know the song — I don’t even have to perform it. It’s a big build up and everybody’s just singing the words. It’s a real emotional song, I like it. It can relate to anybody who’s an up and coming artist that just wants the support from their friends and people around them.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Wake up, roll up, smoke. Throw on my headphones, play some beats. Usually have some beats floating in my email or saved to my files. Attempt to write, I try to wake up with a fresh mind and see what sparks. I might watch some YouTube. Depending on what we have to get done today, we link up with the bros, handle what we got to handle. Could be studios, could be interviews, going out to support another artist or promoter. Come home, roll up, smoke, play a game, and unwind. Try to write again, then go to sleep.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Currently, it’s Queen “Don’t Stop Me Now.” The Future Hendrix project, and 21 Savage “A Lot.” I play that like everyday.
J. Cole, Frank Ocean, I wanna say Drake but that’s typical. I’ma say JID. Me and JID gonna make some crazy stuff.
What did you do with your first check/advance?
I just got my first advance today. I’m going back home and about to put 6 months rent down on a new crib. Definitely want to have my spot. Let’s get it.