Open Space: Mir Fontane
"This city is made for me to die and I refuse."
There are not many rappers or notable figures to come out of Camden, New Jersey, but Mir Fontane is set on changing that. The young rapper represents the city proudly in spite of the lack of respect it gets and has created a name or the South Jersey area to unite around called “Southside.”
Since there’s no infrastructure at home, they’d go to Philly for shows and get pushed to the bottom of the bill. In the face of that, his team would just shout Southside so people had to know they were in the building. Even within Jersey his city is looked down on, dismissed by those in power. “They’d rather just burn that city,” he says on MASS APPEAL’s “Open Space.”
From recording at a house with no furniture to a school with no gym or cafeteria, he’s been forced to create his own opportunities with no guideposts to follow. “Nobody ever made it out before,” he says. “There’s nobody to follow except 23-year-old Fontane.”
Of course, there’s the street life, but at a young age, he understood that his talents would go to waste and do his family no good if he died. He learned from his friend’s mistakes. Fontane watched the hustlers making money and looked up to them, “But I never wanted to be them, because I always understood that these same people never leave.”
“This city is made for me to die and I refuse.”
So he took a different route, and he also made different music. “These people grow up to be OGs and local hood celebrities around here, but at the end of the day want to be rappers on the side,” he says. “Most of the people around me who were starting to do music we into the streets so if everyone’s into the streets, then most of the music sounds the same. There’s no diversity.”
He initially gained some traction off a concept tape about Martin. After that, he dropped a series of singles until “Down By The River” blew, a song about his homie in the drug game who’s about to have a kid and get out of the life and is shot instead. “But that’s not a song that’s meant for just one person. I can tell that story about a lot of people who’ve gone down the wrong path, and soon as they’re ready to turn back and actually do something positive, something happens. The inevitable happens.”
Now with his debut EP out on 300, Camden, he’s set to make waves. But Fontane is not out of the woods yet, and while he wants to help others in his city, it will take some time. Ultimately, he says he’d like to give back and create something like a Boys and Girls club for music.
“I’ma try my best to pull people up, but they gotta want it for themselves. They gotta actually want to get out. Don’t fall in love with the lifestyle, fall in love with the art. It’s a difference.”
Watch the whole video above.