Introducing Peekskill, New York native, Montel Simmons. You know him as Big Mont, and we know him as a big mood. A raw and real take on life, creativity, and music, Big Mont is a name to keep on your radar. His album, Scatterbrain Crackbaby [available on all streaming platforms] will take you on an emotional ride, and leave you wanting more. Mont opened up to us about his mom, growing up, and how to harness positivity in any situation.
Prune: When did you first discover your passion for music?
Big Mont: It was 10th grade when Jay Z’s The Blueprint 3 came out. I was excited about those beats. We had an after school program where we’d go and do homework for an hour before intramural activities, and I always chose the music room. I wrote in a journal about my day instead of doing homework, and I remember the day I wrote about that album. It was 2009, and that was the moment.
Prune: You’ve gone through traumas that most can’t even begin to fathom. How have these experiences shaped you as a person?
Big Mont: They’ve made me a little smarter, a little stronger and a little wiser. That’s it. If I had an out of body experience and could look in, it might be different, but for me, that is all I can really say.
Prune: How have your life experiences translated into your art?
Big Mont: Not as well as I would like them to. I want to be more vulnerable than I was on the last album. I want to say more things. It’s not as easy for me to talk about the things I’ve been through as you may think.
Prune: Your first single, Givenchy came out in 2012. What was the response like for that song?
Big Mont: The first time we put the song out was 2012. It got me widely known in Peekskill [New York], and it was an album. Everyone was doing mixtapes, but I wanted to be different than people. Everyone in the town loved it, and people gave me strong feedback. In 2015, we rereleased. That was cool too, because people from other places began to hear it. There was promotion behind it, and people continued to enjoy the song. It was available to stream on all services at that point, instead of just SoundCloud.
"We did a lot, and it was all worth it."
Prune: Four years later, you have a full album titled Scatterbrain Crackbaby. Talk to me about this project - the inspiration, the process, and the result.
Big Mont: I remember coming up with the idea that I was going to write a full album about crack, and it started as a joke. I said it to Dan [Berte, Manager] and he had a smirk on his face. It was inspired by my mom’s use of drugs. As I grew up, I realized that this person was on drugs and the more I grew up the more I realized they had been the whole time. I had to move in with my aunt until I was nine. I moved there because I was previously in an area with shootouts, and there was someone who was murdered, and it was a complete change. I didn’t want to go outside by myself, and I went from playing outside in the yard to an outside that was all concrete with kids who were fighting. Everyone was mad, and broke. That is what the album is about, the experiences as a kid. It’s also about things I’ve experienced in the last few years too, though.
Prune: Has your fan base grown as a result of Scatterbrain Crackbaby?
Big Mont: A little bit. It’s gotten to a good amount of people thus far, but only by word of mouth. We haven’t done any promo yet, so it’s just been the process of getting to a friend’s friend. Everyone who has reached out to me in response has said nothing less of “I love it,” and that is amazing to me. We [Big Mont and Dean Tammam, Producer] worked so hard. We argued. We got up early. We did a lot, and it was all worth it.
"When you have an idea about anything, big or small, get to it. Tomorrow is not promised."
Prune: From start to finish, every song on Scatterbrain Crackbaby tells a story about your life. What song means the most to you, and why?
Big Mont: I don’t know. I have favorites for reasons behind how they make me feel. When I write a song, I get my feeling out and after that it’s completely objective. Once the song is out and complete, I don’t look at it or listen to my own music like “YEAAA”. The feeling is gone. Mentality is my favorite now just because it goes hard. I don’t connect with them anymore though, it’s over.
I do have a story about the album as a whole, though. I came up with the concept for this album last July . We were supposed to put out music around this time, and I remember telling Dan [Berte] that I wanted to wait until the end of the year. I thought he would be frustrated, but he was patient and open to it. I told Dean [Tammam] that I wanted to focus on building a relationship with my mom, because I’d probably met her less than ten times in my life, but wanted to wait until the album was done. I saw my mom’s friend shortly after the thought sprung in Rite Aid, and I asked if she could put me in contact with my mom. She didn’t have her contact info on her, but told me I could call her the next day to get it. I never called her.
My mom ended up passing in October . It was August when I’d run into my mom’s friend, and my mom passed only two months later. I waited too long. Point being, when you have an idea about anything, big or small, get to it. Tomorrow is not promised.
The last song on the album is speaking directly to my mom, because I was not able to do so in the flesh. I had to get that out once, and keep it going.
"When you find inspiration, know the value of it."
Prune: Who influences you most in life?
Big Mont: If you’re talking about a person I know, it’s Dean [Tammam]. He influences me on a personal level, and has helped me with so much in life. It’s the little things, like making a schedule. On a bigger level, I would say Kanye. Everything Kanye does influences me.
Prune: Revisiting an earlier topic, was it difficult for you to open up on this album with such raw and real emotion?
Big Mont: My next album is going to be about how I am lonely. I got a call from an important person in my life yesterday, someone who I had trouble getting any sort of applause from at any point in my life. If I had a loved one who had no parents, was talented and worked hard, I would give them that extra push. I’ve never had my dad push me on the swing, never had my mom tie my shoes. Everything I learned, I learned on my own. Even if it was easy, I had to see it for myself. But, she called me yesterday, and it made my day. She asked how I was doing, and it made me happy. It gave me a reason to smile and keep my head up. One day, I want a family, and I want to take care of my little soldiers. That is the moment when I won’t feel lonely. People are temporary, and I’m lonely, it’s as simple as that. To answer your question, though, it was not hard for me to open up about things. It was actually my motivation, because it gave me things to rap about.
Prune: So many people have experienced/do experience similar hardships to yours. Do you have advice to those who dream to make something out of nothing?
Big Mont: Yes. When you find inspiration, know the value of it. Know the values of inspiration, and the dangers of influence. When you are inspired, it can make the most lonely kid happy. Look at Tyler, The Creator, he was lonely, lost, and found meaning. Inspiration. When you get a taste of it, hold on to it, explore it, and it will be ok at the end of the day. Stay alive.
Prune: If you could make music with any artist, dead or alive, who would you collaborate with?
Big Mont: Right now I would say French Montana. I want to do a song with him, and when I do, remember that I said this. I’ll rap, and he’ll do nothing but ad lib. Once he gets on a song, and does ad lib, it blows up. It’s fly.
Prune: What can fans and followers expect from you for the remainder of 2019 and early 2020?
Big Mont: More shows, more merch. Loose songs, and a full length project next year. More music where I talk about me, now. Come see me live. We’re starting to work on videos, I want to direct videos for other people as well. I am teaching myself music theory, at the moment. I’m also going to study graphic design, I just want to create. I’m also in the gym, so soon I’ll be looking like Idris Elba. That’s that. Look forward to seeing more of me.