Everything has a start and a finish and for 32-year-old Montana of 300, he believes his solo career has reached its peak destination. The Southside Chicago-born-and-raised rapper, singer, songwriter is not turning his back completely away from music. Instead, he’ wants to focus the spotlight on other artists that are a part of his Fly Guy Entertainment label as well as his line of merchandise and products.
Montana’s music career dates back to 2006 when, like many artists just starting out, he began selling mixtapes out of his trunk and putting his own shows together. His independent route in the music business allowed him the space to carve out his own narrative. From the beginning, he’s been aware of how his story would play out. “I like to pride myself on thinking differently and not being a follower,” he told BET.com in an exclusive interview. “I just thought it would be smart if I plan my ending and transition elsewhere.”
Montana’s debut album Fire In The Church was released on May 20, 2016 and nearly five years later, he is releasing his final album, Rap God on May 22. This is not only the title of his album, but an appropriate self-proclaimed homage to his flow and rapping ability. Following the viral release of his 2014 song, “Chiraq,” he felt the name was nothing less than befitting.
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When he was a kid, Montana’s dad made him read a book about Emmett Till. The incentive to finish the biography was his own cassette of It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot, the late DMX’s debut album. It became Montana’s first album in his collection and eventually inspired him to begin writing his own lyrics.
BET.com talked to Montana of 300 who lives his life by the mantra, “no surrender, no retreat, only the hard, only the strong, against all odds,” taken from the 2006 film that inspired his name,300 about how his last project, his decision to transition from artist to CEO and what’s he’s got simmering on the back burner.
BET.com: The title of your final solo album is Rap God. What does the title mean?
Montana Of 300: The actual name or the word God is a title. It’s not a name, it’s a title, to be the creator or the destroyer. I just remember being at different stages of my life where I felt like the only person messing with me in rap is Lil Wayne. Then I got better to the point where I don’t see nobody above me and making myself my only competition. I tried to match what I did in the past or surpass it.
BET.com: When was the moment you decided to fully take music seriously?
Montana Of 300: I’d say 2007. I was good at football and track in high school. I remember going to college on a track and field scholarship and I wasn’t into it, I was just good at it. I didn’t feel like I could be the best track and field athlete or the fastest NFL player. I felt like I would have a chance at being the greatest rapper one day. It’s a mixture of being both talented and gifted. I was blessed with athletic talent but I was also blessed with rapping. That’s the thing I was more passionate about.
Naturally, when you have a competitive heart, you want to be the best at what you do. I understand there are some people that just do things for fun, but why not push it to the limit and see how far you can go?
BET.com: Now that your solo music career endeavors are complete, what’s next for you?
Montana Of 300: I’ll be doing joint projects with the artists on my Fly Guy Entertainment (FGE) label in the future, so that’ll be the only way to hear me, if I’m featured on their projects and collaborating with them.
I’m actually getting into writing books and movie scripts right now. That’s like a whole new career and chapter for me. I have a 12-year-old son that’s really good at basketball, so I’m doing FGE Sports where it’s covering some of the top kids in the nation. So I have periods of time where I go check out their games and I take my son with me so he can meet them. I put him in that atmosphere of wanting to be a part of that greatness. A lot of Black kids and Black athletes—we didn’t really have that type of motivation.
BET.com: How’d you come to the conclusion that this would be your final solo body of work?
Montana Of 300: I’ve kind of known this since 2016. Since then, I knew I wanted to drop a couple more albums and I wanted to make Rap God my last album. I knew I’d be better lyrically as a rapper by the time that came.
A lot of people in life really don’t understand that the ending is everything. The ending is always usually sad. When you sit back and think about it, did anyone sit back and actually plan an ending of their career? Did you plan a syllabus for that? Everyone has a plan on how they want to blow up, get their foot in the door, etc. It’ll give people that sense that I’m gone, but also to embrace me or see me, you will also have to see somebody I love, which is one of my artists.
BET.com: The content of your music takes on a range of subject matters. How do you determine what to rap about?
Montana Of 300: At the end of the day when I do talk about the street stuff, if you pay attention to my raps, I’m speaking in the past tense. I don’t want my fanbase or even the youth to think that I’m waking up in the morning, putting a gun on my hip, and riding around selling 200 pounds of weed, then doing this or that. When I rap, there are messages about parenting, too—messages for my son and daughter.
I don’t mind it falling on the ears of strangers because I know it’s a lot of boys out there that don’t have a father figure in their life to give them positivity or a big brother. I just try to stay balanced in everything that hip-hop is supposed to consist of. One song might be about street s--t and further down the line, the next song might be about staying independent and not selling your soul. I have fans that enjoy different versions of Montana.
Photo courtesy of Through Her Lens.