A Conversation with Montana of 300

That sounds dope. I’ll definitely have to watch out for both of those. Just so viewers understand, what is FGE and what does it stand for? Who all is apart of the FGE team?
FGE is Fly Guy Entertainment. To me FGE is a sign of hope. We represent the people who have the talent but may have never had the chance. There’s a lot of people out there who have tons of talent but will never have the chance to succeed. That’s who we represent. As far as who all is a part of the team, let me think. There’s Talley of 300, $avage, No Fatigue, J Real, and I’ve got an R&B singer, Jalyn Sanders. I’ve been working with Talley the longest though, he’s a childhood friend I met him in 6th grade.
Jayln I met when he was a freshman in high school. He was young, like fourteen about to turn fifteen and had sent me a video on Myspace of him singing. I watched the video and liked his voice, so I hit him up and asked if he wanted to be a G and he was like “Hell Yeah”. So I brought him to the studio and back then the first few times we were in the studio Talley and I used to write a bunch of R&B material for him to sing. Over the years though, you know he had to have had his ears open and been learning. We are lyricists at the end of the day. The rappers on FGE are lyricists, that’s just how we are. People can’t just say anything on the track around us. When they rap they have got to bring it. They’ve got to be coming with it. I think being around that helped mold him into a song writer. Now he writes his own material and consistently impresses us with it. He’s got a solo project in the works as well.  Just seeing him grow though and some of the concepts he’s come up with in some of his songs with the notes, styles, and stuff like that just makes me real proud of him.
J Real, I met him probably in ’08 off some street shit. I remember I was hustling in the streets and shit and one day I picked him up – I had an old school chevy on some 24’s with a five inch lift kit sitting real high – you know just let him ride around the city with me. I was talking to him a lot, giving him a lot of game and just telling him a lot of things I would share with my younger brother. I was sharing a lot of knowledge and wisdom with him. We ended up going to a tattoo place that day cause I was getting some work done, so I asked him if he wanted a tattoo he was down. I got him his first tattoo and shit like that. You know, I just showed him love and shit but I started rocking with him in the streets first. Then probably about two years later I started rocking with him on the rapping side of things. That’s when I started to see he was not only growing and coming along as a rapper but he had what it takes to be FGE. He still surprises me with his talent today.
$avage is an artist I’ve been rocking with for about a year now. When I first met him he was battle rapping actually. He’s also the one who I did the “Computers” remix with as well. He inspired me on that one. He gets the credit for that. My fans were asking me to do the remix and I was saying I wasn’t going to do it because I just wasn’t into it. I didn’t care you know? When I heard $avage’s remix to the track though it caught my attention. It was late night. Like late as hell, and we’d been in the studio for hours already so everyone was tired. He laid down his remix and when I heard it, that shit just turned me up so much. It was like, I was just asleep a second ago you know, and now I’m super turned up ready to go. So hearing his verse and seeing how it made me feel had me want to get on the song. After he was done recording I just looked at him there in the studio and asked him if he wanted to be FGE and he was in. I had seen his potential before and I was aware of what he had as an artist already. That’s why I had brought him in and helped pay for some studio time so he could knock out whatever he needed to get done. At the same time as he was recording though I was constantly listening and taking mental notes on anything he may need to work on. Really after I heard his “Computers” remix I could see he was more than ready though.
With No Fatigue, that’s Talley’s cousin. He came to the studio a couple times with Talley and he had actually spit some shit to me a couple of times before while we were just chilling on the futons in the studio. At this point, I already knew he had some style to himself that was different, he didn’t sound like nobody else in the game. But he also had crazy bars. You know what I’m saying? That’s something that’s missing today. You don’t get that in hip hop as much anymore. The content he had in his music was what really impressed me. So that’s how it worked with him.
That’s what’s up. For anyone reading who may be interested in becoming a part of FGE, what are a few things you scout for in artists? Where do you see FGE going or standing in the future?
Well for me. as far as becoming a part of FGE, obviously to be FGE you have to be lyrical and mindful of what’s coming out of your mouth. You’ve got to be creative and have some edge to your music too. That’s basically what I look for in my artists above all else. That’s basically how it is. I also have got love for all my guys though beyond music. I have love for them as brothers. I care about them. give a fuck about how they are and how things are going. FGE is a family just as much as it is a business you know? See most labels just find their artist and then those guys end up getting put up on shelves if things don’t turn out or their hits don’t add up. I think about more than that though. I think about all kinds of stuff when signing artists, I think about their families, their kids, and their life after music. I like to look at it as I want to be the best on the business side and music side to make sure I am taking care of everything properly. Growing up, my dad told me to never be dependent on anyone. He said that being dependent on someone else was how to kill yourself before you start. So I always tell my artists if they quit, I’ll be okay. FGE isn’t dependent on one artist. I’m aware that artists could quit any day. Look at Birdman and how he needed Lil Wayne. Or Suge Knight who needed Tupac. Wayne just quit you know, but when they were at the top of the industry you had Birdman on the business side and Wayne on the music side. I work to put myself in a position where I am a combination of both. That way I don’t need to ever worry about someone quitting because I will know that I’ll be okay, and my family and team will be okay. If the music side doesn’t work I’ve got the business side or vice versa. I want to be the Floyd Mayweather of rap. I want to the best and I want FGE to be the best. I just want to see FGE takeoff. The same way Bad Boy took off. I want FGE to be one of those bigger names in the game. I want it to be looked at as one of the great businesses that is successful and doesn’t have any of those bad images that come with most labels these days.
Every day I’m learning more. I think that secret to being the master of anything is to never stop being the student. So I try to keep that mindset when working in regards to FGE and life in general. But at the end of the day it’s a business too. There’s something I call the ‘thorn effect’ that I look for in music as well when scouting artists. The thorn effect basically means when someone hears your music they should feel it like being pricked by a thorn. When you prick yourself on a thorn real bad it will hurt for a few days right? So when people hear my music or my artist’s music I want it to have that lasting effect. Where even after they’re done listening and maybe they’re in a whole new environment but they still are thinking about what they heard and talking about what they heard. If you show someone your music and they don’t think about it after it’s done playing then you don’t have a strong ‘thorn effect’. It’s something I’ve even had to break down to my friends before.
That all makes sense and sounds like you have a big vision. You mentioned you and Talley used to write some for Jalyn, do you still write for other artists? Or are you now more focused on writing your own music and letting your artists take their own direction?
I haven’t wrote for anyone else in FGE for a while. The only person I ever did that for was Jayln actually. As far as rappers, we don’t do that shit over here. You’ve got to be able to hold your own and come with your own heat. But as far as singing and R&B music, I can still write that shit all day haha.
What about your acting career? Any new acting gigs coming up after your appearance in Empire?
I have nothing scheduled right now, but I just started writing a movie script of my own. This will be my first time doing that and seeing how that goes. I’m always working on multiple things at one time though and I’m used to that. I like it that way.
Yeah it sounds like you like to keep yourself busy rather than let yourself get complacent or comfortable.
Right, I have got to stay busy or else I won’t feel right. Like if I’m just sitting around I won’t feel right. I just dropped the album, but you know I feel like I have to constantly work on the future so I won’t fall behind. So I can keep things going you now?”
That’s a great way to look at things. Aside from music, you also make it clear that your family and your beliefs are the most important to you. How did growing up shape and influence the way you raise your family?
Just growing up anybody can know the things that they want, or the things they were missing and use them as an excuse. You know someone could say well my daddy did drugs so I’m going to do drugs. But in reality, that’s not what you wanted to do. I look at it as I had a prime example of what not to do because I saw the effects of it, the effects of drugs. The effects are you know, you don’t see success come from that. You don’t see a change in your surroundings from that. Everyone who’s doing it is in the same spot. It’s just a big circle. You know what I’m saying? You have got to make sacrifices and break that chain that’s holding you back. You can’t go around selling drugs and thinking you’re going to blow up. It just doesn’t happen. Drugs are so risky. You don’t really realize how risky it is and how may risks you were actually taking until you are done with it. Then once you’re done it’s like, “damn I can really relax in traffic not looking over my shoulder so much”. You know what I’m saying? That’s the way of life when you’re involved with drugs, and that’s not how its supposed to be. You shouldn’t always have to be looking over your shoulder. I feel so much better now. It’s like more assurance. Like okay I know this is good, I know this person’s good, I know my kids are straight and they have got this or they have got that. That’s basically how I looked at things growing up. Everything I wish I would have had or thought would’ve helped me, I feel like is my responsibility to let my kids know or to give them. For instance, some would say a movie like Boyz In Da Hood, you shouldn’t let a four or five or six year old watch that movie because there’s so much negativity in it. That lifestyle, being in the hood, selling drugs, killing and all that negativity. But when I watched it with my sons, I basically narrated the whole movie as we watched it. Breaking it down for them which I feel like is very important and needed within a lot of kids’ lives. Most kids watch a movie and take away whatever they take away from it watching from a kid’s perspective. It’s a lot of things kids look at and think this is cool, or that was gangster, or that was some tough shit, or ain’t nobody want to fuck with him cause of this. So when I was talking to them I broke it down to my sons. When the little boys were outside and they they’re fixing to go steal from the store I told my sons what they were doing and explained what was going on. Then you know, twenty minutes later the kid is walking down the street with his dad and sees his friends in the back of the police car going to jail because they got caught stealing. So I’m telling my sons the whole time, “see he’s going to jail because he was stealing from the store”. I’m telling them this would have never happened if he had never stolen. You know just talking to them and saying things like that. I’m teaching them. I’m telling them and showing them what happens when you make those poor choices.
But even outside of just my family man, I could be walking down the street and see an older lady struggling to carry all her bags, trying to take care of her kids or grand-kids, and I’m the type of person to go up and help out or shake the kids hands you know. Tell them to make sure they take care of their mom or the grandma. A lot of rappers spend money on crazy things or expensive things, but I’m not really into that. If I had two million dollars in my hands right now I can’t tell you one car I would go buy right now. I don’t care about money like that. Money is paper, and anyone can have it. It doesn’t mean anything. When people flaunt their cash I look at it as someone who’s never had money before. Maybe it makes them feel good or feel better about whatever. Maybe they’re showing someone they’re really getting it. I just feel like people respect money too much. You know people say stuff like, “would you slap the hell out of your mom for 20 dollars,” and someone else will be like “Hell nah”. But then if they ask what about for twenty thousand dollars, the same people from before get to scratching their heads and thinking. It’s like everything has to have a price. Me knowing my mom, she’d probably slap the hell out of me if I said no to twenty thousand dollars. She’d tell me she’d keep two thousand and I get eighteen. But for someone like me and who I’ve grown up to be, you’d have to kill me to get me to turn my back on my morals or beliefs. The money doesn’t matter. There really aren’t many people in the world who stand for what they believe in to that extent. Or refuse to go against what they believe in regardless of the price. People say someone who sells their soul is someone who gives up their life and worships the devil or whatever. To me the definition of someone selling their soul, is someone doing something that they didn’t want to do just to get some money or gain some material item. Breaking your morals and doing something out of your character because the price was right is selling your soul. If something you do wasn’t in you to begin with and you didn’t want to do it but you do do it anyway, you aren’t staying true to you. So I never want to break my beliefs and morals. I will never sell my soul. Like I said, you’d have to kill me first.
Using the past as a learning or teaching experience is very empowering. In your music you also talk frequently about as you continue to rise to success you’ve had to cut off certain individuals who might not have had your best interest at heart? Has it been hard identifying who you needed to cut off or move on from?
Uh actually I think I kind of found that out before the music happened. Like I’ve seen money come and go, I’ve been up, I’ve been down. I saw it then, I saw who wasn’t there. So you trim that fat first. You’re supposed to. Then you know, there’s some people who you let hang around who you know it’s not genuine. The love is phony. Basically it’s about seeing shit for what it is. Like on “Heatstroke” I said, “You only pray to God when you want something cause your bond is weak.” What do we call people who only call us when they want something? You never call to check up or see how things are going. You only call when you need something. It’s shit like that, people like that, we call people like that phony. And you wouldn’t blame God if he called you phony if the only time you talked to him is when you’re saying “God can you do this for me. God give me this”. People think that’s what his purpose is though. They think that’s just who you talk to when you want something or need something. I try to keep all of my relationships with that point of view. I can’t be around people who only reach out when you can provide for them. Just like my relationship with God.  I probably pray more than the average person who goes to church. I can’t tell you how many times I close my eyes a day and just say thank you in my mind. I don’t have to say thank you for certain things because I’m thankful all around. If so I would be here all day trying to go down the list. Only he knows what’s wrapped up in the thank you that I’m saying to him. You know, it’s also kind of like I’m saying thank you that I’m even able to say thank you. You know, I’m saying thank you that I’m here breathing. Really like I said earlier, it’s about seeing shit for what it is. It’s not something that is hard unless you make it that way. It is what is is.
That’s an incredibly enlightened view of things and how they work! On that note, is there any advice you have for artists or anyone really in general pursuing their dreams whether that in music or outside of it?
For artists, just remember although you may have the talent already, don’t ever feel like you’ve got this and you’re where you need to be. Always be looking for ways to keep advancing and moving forward. Another big word of advice to artists, is to read. Everything coming out out of most of the people you talk to’s mouth is English, so you have to know English. That’s how to you learn new words, reading. Another word of advice is to be aware. The game is full of snakes, sharks, and opportunities. You have to know what you are dealing with. Everything that sounds good isn’t always gold. So be cautious. Like I also say on Heatstroke, “I keep my guard up because God ain’t the author.” That’s just saying, use your brain all the time. Just cause someone hasn’t done something before doesn’t mean it can’t be done. God may be who you believe in but you are the author of your life. I mean I’m living proof of that. My album was the number two album in the country just two hours after it came out, and I’m not even signed to label. I did that all independently. If I had signed a deal I would probably be like “Ah damn you know the record label helped me get the number two album in the country. But since I’m independent and can know I did that all my own. Obviously others were a part of the process but as far as the writing, those are my choice of words. People are coming back to hear my words. Not to shake their ass or their dreads, but to hear the words coming out of my mouth. So for artists just always be cautious and aware with everything you do and see.
Regarding life in general, I feel like I could really talk all day about that. I feel like I have got so much knowledge that I could give them that I could really talk all day. But at the end of the day a big thing is don’t ever depend on anyone other than yourself. One more big belief for me is even though doesn’t matter what religion you are or what God you believe in, it’s still God over everything. Besides that just work hard, don’t let nobody try and stop you. Make sure you watch out for the snakes and the bullshit in the grass because they are both definitely down there. Even if you haven’t had snakes yet don’t think for one second they aren’t down there. Just be always be aware to what’s going on.

Upcoming Montana of 300 Tour Dates June 2016

June 16 – Chicago, IL
June 17 – Niagara Falls, NY
June 19 – Rochester, NY

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