As promised, Camden, New Jersey‘s Mir Fontane shares his highly anticipated Who’s Watching The Kids? mixtape. The 10-track project has few features with Young Savage, Ish Williams and Kam DeLa being the only artists involved.
The project’s first single and regional hit, “Wanni Wag” as well as the recently released, “Space Jam” both appear on #WWTK. Blending melodic cadences, unforgiving punchlines, and soulful hooks, Mir Fontane proves that #WWTK is his best body of work to date. The mixtape also features production some of the freshest east coast talent, including Kenif Muse, Menace, KilConfirmed, Kam DeLa, Zach Capner, Roca Beats, and Kev Rodgers.
During an in-depth interview at Mir‘s official listening party, we got to chat about the concept for WWTK, and even a few of his favorite 90s Kid things. Mir Fontane also offers up his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement & police brutality, the importance of the resurgence of storytelling in hip-hop, and one very special person that the album is dedicated to.
LifeIsTremendez (LIT): What can you tell us about your album title, Who’s Watching The Kids?
Mir Fontane (MF): Well, Who’s Watching The Kids came from the fact that I always looked at Camden as kind of like a big orphanage, like [we’re] the forgotten children. Half of Camden’s population is under the age of 23, and then 1/3 of that is under the age of 18. I feel like the city is pretty much run by the young people. At the end of the day, my friends & people that I’ve known in high school is like doing drugs, killing people. It’s a bunch of craziness and we’re the ones who’s running the city, pretty much, so it’s like ‘Who’s watching the kids?’ The kids is running the streets; the kids are being targeted by police; the kids are being killed. At the end of the day, nobody’s watching us, we’re watching ourselves. It’s pretty much what the album was based off of.
LIT: That’s really cool, because our own thought process in regards to the title, was that it was a Rugrats reference, because you’re so 90s-influenced as seen in your past work (Martin, Hey Arnold, etc.).
MF: Yeah, nah, that would be a dope — You know what’s crazy? I was thinking about that one time after I did He So Crazy, I was like ‘Alright what can I do to top that?’ I did Martin, that’s a TV show. I [could have] done a movie, but most movies just already have the plot going, and a twist at the end is kinda the easy way out. I was like ‘What if I did a cartoon?’ I thought of Rugrats, but like, to make the Rugrats dark and make them street and hood, like that album might be too much! (laughs) That’s probably where this kinda came from subliminally, but I kinda didn’t wanna go through the whole copy & paste.
LIT: Do you often make your own covers?
MF: I do all of [my own artwork]. I draw. When I was coming up, I always said, ‘Since I’m in this situation where I’m so off the radar, I gotta use everything at my disposal to make me stand out from everybody that’s trying to do it. I’m a rapper, but I can also draw. I’ve also been in a movie, and I can act, so I might as well do my own shits; I can do impressions! I use everything to my benefit. Most of my cover at, I collab with my graphic designer, shout out Oz. I just try to be as hands-on with my art as possible. I look at it as my child.
LIT: Since you’ve been so ‘off the radar,’ tell the world about your musical background.
MF: I only started rapping in high school. Ever since I can remember, I used to write poetry. I was already good with words, and English was always my favorite subject.
LIT: Where does your singing skill come from? You don’t find too many truly good singers in hip-hop.
MF: My singing?! (laughs)I have no idea where that came from because my mom can’t sing, and my dad can’t sing. I dont know, I think I was just gifted with a blend of their voices to a point where I can make it melodic without me even trying. When I went to Creative Arts, I was messing with the vocalists — most of the vocalists — lil cute girls that could sing that I was just attracted to, you know. Like I would just pick up little lessons that they would learn during lunch.
LIT: On the way over here in the car, we heard you diss a couple of old cartoons! What are some of the ones you like/don’t like? Do you play Pokemon GO?
MF: Definitely! Most definitely! (laughs) that might be the best app I’ve downloaded in 10 years! I can name a cartoon right now that I don’t like. I don’t understand why Caillou is still on the air. I don’t like a lot of the new stuff that’s on the air, the new Cartoon Network. What I do like that’s new and old, Courage the Cowardly Dog was that work. Dragon Ball Z, always that work. Rugrats, Rocko’s Modern Life, Hey Arnold! New school, I kind of like Regular Show, I think that’s dope. I think Adventure Time is really dope, especially now that I smoke weed, the subliminal stuff is really crazy. [The Amazing World of] Gumball, surprisingly, is hilarious. You gotta give it a chance. Clarence is another one I like. A lot of the new stuff is just too much, like I don’t like the new Teen Titans. They should have left a lot of my childhood alone. I still like Johnny Bravo. I’ll take Cartoon Network with the blocks, more than CN.
LIT: You have such a strong vintage aura about you. What were some of your favorite songs or music videos growing up?
MF: My favorite rap songs growing up, anything that told a story. I was in love with G-Unit. I loved the “Many Men” video. I liked any video that was like a story.
LIT: Michael Jackson videos?
MF: I love all MJ! All the homies will tell you. My hashtag right now in real life is #MichaelJacksonAllSummer. I wanna make music videos that actually tell stories. No more just flashing money, I think that’s so weak. If you can’t just tell a story in a video, that’s all I was about. I was into Lloyd Banks, I used to listen to Big L, Tupac, Biggie Smalls. I’m a Biggie Smalls over Tupac, but I feel like I’m more Tupac as a spiritual animal. I’m Biggie in the sense of music, I feel like Biggie was just more lyrical and I could get into his stories. That’s a heavy influence in what I make today.
LIT: So, getting back to your album, is there anything special you can tell us about your production & feature choices?
MF: The album is pretty much produced by Kenif Muse, who runs the studio that we’re at tonight. Most of the production is from Kev Rodgers, KilConfirmed, Muse himself, and by boy, RIP, Zach Capner, who pretty much Ima dedicate this album to. A couple of the beats of course he made and at the same time, he died of an overdose last year, I wanna say three weeks after I met him. We’d just started making music, he was a big fan and everything, but he had OD’d around Christmas time. He got a lot of the jazzy-type beats that are on the project. He went to Berkeley College, and so he just had a different ear and I just love that type; It’s like a Kendrick Lamar type of sound.
LIT: Would you care to voice your thoughts on recent events in regards to police relations/Black Lives Matter?
MF: I just feel like we’re being targeted. I feel like we’ve been protesting for God knows how long. Ever since I’ve grown up, everybody marched; everybody did the whole thing and its like, we’re in 2016 and everybody still wants to march when at the end of the day, that’s never really produced long results. If anything, they try to pacify us with that. I just think we need to come up with a solution that, I wouldn’t say eye-for-eye, but we need to come up with some type of way. Something. But I will say in the history of ever, there’s never been respect given to someone who didn’t earn it. We as peeople always want to say ‘forgive and turn the other cheek,’ but we get slapped on the other cheek, and slapped again. I just don’t know. At some point, you gotta go out and get your respect.
THIS-OR-THAT with Mir Fontane:
Will Smith or Martin Lawrence
Lunchables or Pizza Rolls
Lunch or Recess
Jordans or Timbs or Adidas
BET Uncut or Girls Gone Wild (to which Mir says: I gotta love my black women )
Special thanks to Jon Wigfall.