Mont Brown has been a consistent leader of the humanitarian movement in Philadelphia and beyond. Often behind the scenes, he has been a key factor in several artists’ careers and currently manages rapper SimxSantana. He sees a way to insert his love and positivity in everything he does. From designing clothes to putting on festivals, the action always comes with a message.
He recently headlined Philly Fashion Week’s streetwear show with his clothing line, Lamont Lateef. His runway encompassed his passion for the youth, philanthropy and music. Afterwards, I got a chance to interview Mont about everything he’s got going on so far.
Check out our Q&A below.
So, what does a humanitarian mean to you?
Mont: It’s really like just a good samaritan that just wants to help just human welfare or animal welfare, whatever really. You pick your poison whatever subject matter that is dear to your heart, whether it’s feeding homeless or going overseas to help build hospitals for the less fortunate. It’s you picking your poison of what you want to help people with.
And mine is broad. I want to help everybody. You know, coming up in an urban community we only care about art, music, and fashion. So I figured just take it to fashion and make a statement with fashion and then trickle down to some other great things.
So would you say fashion is your first love?
Mont: Fashion and music. Both of them, it’s like mom and dad. There’s no way I could pick.
How long you’ve been making clothes and stuff?
Mont: I was always playing with it. Just putting my own stuff together, but my line? Just a year.
You were doing music before that?
Mont: Yeah I was in a rock/alternative band. A full on band, drummer, saxophone, violinist. It was called Astronauts Really Fly with Joey Stix, Andrew Meoray, Jason Beats.
Does that explain the head tattoo?
Mont: I always told myself like, when I go bald just get a tattoo. It was like the right time and it this for me like a challenge to myself if I get these tattoos, I know I can’t get a regular job anymore. I was committed.
And I also saw that you got that the Hometown Hero Award?
Mont: Yeah, from the Mayor. It was fire. It was from the clothing line and all of the community work I was doing and it just caught fire.
What would you say is your favorite work that you’ve done so far in the community that really made you feel fulfilled?
Mont: It’s not just one because with my Kickback Festival, it’s always great, I’ve brought thousands of people out. But that could scale down to when I’m doing an event called Brunch With The Elders and I’m in there just kicking it with them. I feel like as you get older you start to lose connection with the elderly people in your family like you’re aunts, your grandparents, you start to lose touch with them. So being in those facilities bring me back like “let me call my aunt”. I enjoy those moments.
And then you also stay close to youth as well. Tell us about how you started working with artists.
Mont: Yeah I started off with my first deal, me and my partner Kwizzy. We had Recohavoc, we got him a deal collectively. We came together and got him a deal with Atlantic Records. Second. Sim Santana, Columbia Records. Then Yak Yola just got signed to Alamo Records, also with my partners Kwizzy and Kion. So that’s three artists within like 2 years.
How did you gain a relationship with Sim?
Mont: I didn’t even know Sim. Sim’s mom and my mom knew each other. Sim’s mom was calling my mom looking for me. So she called me saying “I need you to help me get my son out there.” That was probably a Tuesday. I talked to Sim probably Thursday. He had a show at TLA Friday.
So Friday was our first was our first time ever meeting each other face to face. And as I’m driving down I just hear everybody playing his music. That was like back in May. Back then he was at like a hundred thousand. And after the show we looked dead in each other’s eyes as men like bro we’re going to rock out, this is what we doing. He was like ard cool. Then he left and it just like erupted down there. Somebody put his song on and it just started going nuts.
I woke up I just see all this footage of kids on the car and all that. It was crazy. So I told him we should meet up and get some breakfast.
We want to go get some breakfast and we went to go pull up on my homie Kion and he said let’s do it! He said Monday we’re going to New York and we won’t come back till we get a record deal. We just went bro. Kion was calling everybody we know, creating a bidding war. Then we stayed out there.
We were trying to meet Steven Victor. It’s crazy because we were in a club. Tez, he’s from Def Jam, was supposed to introduce us. I guess says Tez was like caught up in the moment. There was a lot going on so he probably had a couple drinks in him. So we see Steven Victor right there. So Kion went up like “Yo bro what’s up, this is Sim Santana”
He goes “Oh shit bro I’ve been telling everybody about you. I can’t believe you’re standing here. Let’s do the deal!” He offered to pay for studio, hotels, they paid for everything. But our first meeting was with Columbia.
So that was cool. So. We stayed, went to the studio, went to the hotel, took a bunch of other meetings. The next day we went in there Amber Rose was in there, Tyga was in there.
Sim played Flexin and Flashin and Tyga was like “Sign him, Sign him, Please sign him!”
And we was gonna sign but Steven Victor went to China. He just signed Pop Smoke and then he was going to sign Sim. So he went to China and in the meantime we took other meetings. Colombia just felt good. Shoutout to all those guys over there.
It’s cool and for Philly and it was something different for them because Sim is like URBAN URBAN. So it’s like the first time they’re seeing some shit like this.
Do you get satisfied with progress or are you just ready to go on to the next challenge?
Mont: I mean you always got to do better. We’re striving for greatness, we don’t try to be number two, trying to be number one. I just believe in the universe and everything happens for a reason.
So what are the next steps with Sim?
Mont: We got the remix with Lil Uzi. Uzi just jumped on the remix. More shows, he’s getting booked. Plus the video goes up hundred thousand a day. He’s in good shape.
So you’re like his official manager?
Mont: Yeah manager, business partner, we manage ourselves. He’s not just my artist. He’s my business partner like how Jay-Z, Dame Dash, and Biggs was it’s like the same thing. That’s my whole thing, instead of me running the operation you’re my partner, I’ll show you how to do this. If something ever happened, you know how to run a whole operation by yourself.
Sim’s 19, so I’m like 10 years older than him. He’s a kid but he moves different to be his age.
Are you giving him a lot of game on what to do right?
Mont: Yeah I mean, you gotta let people make their own mistakes. You know I’ll step in if and I see it spiraling out of control. But it’s never that because he listens and he pays attention. He don’t do drugs or nothing. So it’s not like he’s just out here wilding out, but he knows I’m just a phone call away.
You’re still looking for more artists?
Mont: Yeah I’m trying to help out the whole tri-state. So if we can get on, let’s get on.
What’s it like to juggle between fashion and music?
Mont: It’s parallel. All artists gotta get dressed.
But you don’t find it to be like stressful?
Mont: Yeah, but I’m probably different because like even if we travel and we’re in a hotel, I could just look at the carpet and be like “Oh shit I like that color pattern. Like the blue hitting off the orange, write this down let me take a picture of it. I just got an eye for that. Business wise it is what is, I enjoy it.
The new stuff that you displayed for Fashion Week, what was that the concept behind all of this that?
Mont: Honestly they’re just pieces I’ve had. I felt like it’s about to get cold and I love layering on my clothes. So nobody ever tagged on a peacoat, you never see that. My whole style is like red cross in Nigeria. You’re going to see a bunch of people standing there with all kinds of clothing on. That my whole concept. I don’t have all this time to match this with that. I just put on whatever yo. I don’t care, it don’t have to match or nothing.
And then you also have to make sure you leave a message on some of it as well.
Mont: I feel like when Kanye put out Jesus Walks, he had people in the club singing it and shit. Like you supported it, not even thinking about what he’s saying. But you’re just supporting it because it’s dope more than anything. A lot of people can’t even pronounce the the word humanitarian
They’re wearing it because it’s dope, because it’s just some fly shit. It is fly, but they’re spreading the message of being a humanitarian and it’s a whole message to it. And without you knowing you’re becoming a humanitarian. So it’s just feeding the people.
And people ask me “Why Calabasas?” because I feel like the first thing people say is “when I get money I’m moving to L.A.. ” Calabasas, is like the highest point, as high as you can go. So it’s making people aware, like you may have made it to that point. But don’t ever forget we still need humanitarian all over the world. Cause you can get caught up and just have that attitude like you’re cool and don’t have to give a shit about nobody but you and your family. But it’s bigger than that.
Is there anybody in particular that’s in Calabasas that you think should be leaning towards the humanitarian lifestyle?
Mont: All of the for real. The ones that are out of the loop and what’s going on in the real world. With Calabasas you get caught up, just LA alone you can get caught up in that fast life and you start to lose sight of what really matters. And at the end of the day helping somebody really matters. Not throwing a bunch of money buying cars, jewlery, fuck all of that.
Just think about it, you buy a Rolls-Royce for 500,000. You could’ve just made payments on 60 kids’ tuition. But it’s their money though. So you got to make that decision. Do you want to ball or help out? It’s your money though so you can do you want. I just know what I’ll do with mine.
Who are some other artists/designers that you support in Philly?
Mont: Everybody, I was the first person to put Tierra Whack in the studio. On 18th and Diamond, we recorded at Roscoe’s. Her mom was in the session with us. Me, her, and Roscoe, I paid for the session.
Are you still in contact?
Mont: I talk to Johnny, her manager but when I see her it’s love. I’m happy. She is exactly where we thought she would be.
I’ve helped a lot of people, a bunch of people in Philly. I support everybody. I want everybody to win. It’s enough out here for everybody
Finally, I want to ask what makes you ICY?
Mont: All action, my drive. My drive is forever. My faith in God is going to keep me here. I don’t question that. So that’s what’s going to have me icy, stuck forever. Ice. You just got to be different. This industry is a different animal.
You just gotta play it like Kobe Bryant. You want to be good, or you want to be great? We’ve seen a bunch of good people, a bunch of good people. But you know the greats, Magic, Jordan, Bird, Lebron. It’s only a couple, but there’s a lot of good players like Tracy McGrady, Penny Hardaway, good players. But it takes a different work ethic to be one of the greatest that ever did it. I’m trying to be there. All action bro.