PHILADELPHIA (CBS)– Lamont “Mont” Brown is a self-proclaimed “hip-hop humanitarian.”
“It’s a mix between Jay-Z and Rev Run,” says Brown, when asked to define the term.
He says it’s not about getting money, but about giving back. So- how’d he get here.
Brown grew up near 66th and Chester Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia. He was raised by his grandfather, a retired city worker, and his grandmother, who battled cancer most of his life. Brown’s father, was killed at 22 and his mother spent 20 years behind bars.
“It was my grandparents trying to raise a young boy,” says Brown, “so I had older cousins- and that’s who I hung with.”
An old soul, Brown spent his young childhood with older kids. By the time he was 13 years old, he had a child of his own.
“I couldn’t be a kid no more,” he says, “I had to grow up real fast.”
So he focused on his loves- art, music and fashion. He idolized Bad Boy Records, Jay-Z and Mase, admiring not only the glamourous life-style, but also the entrepreneurship.
“These guys were running their own record company,” says Brown, “I am looking at it like, if these guys could run record companies- I would love my own record company.”
Brown learned how to write rhymes. He saved his money walking from Southwest to West Philadelphia to record in neighborhood studios, honing his voice. He eventually started co-founded Astronauts Really Fly with Steve “Pace-O-Beats Ferguson.” A decade ago, Brown, caught a big break, when he released “Super Crazy Dumb Stupid.”
“The song was bigger than me,” he says.
The song took him on tour with Meek Mill for a year, but when he came back to Philadelphia he decided to start a movement.
“I didn’t want the money it’s more so about giving back,” he says.
Brown began hosting concerts with local artists where the cost of admission was donations. He started the effort in a skateboard shop with 200 kids and expanded into neighborhoods with thousands in an annual event called the “Kickback Festival.”
“It was amazing to see thousands of people on my block- no violence,” says Brown, who always dreamed of holding a concert in front of the row home where he grew up. “I am doing all the things I ever dreamed about.”
At 30 years old, Brown has tattoos on his face and most of his body, but he’s breaking barriers. With high profile mentors like Kenny Gamble and Louis Farrakhan, he’s expanded his reach, catching the eye of elected officials. Today, Brown is a super mentor, sits on non-profit boards, and is treasurer of the Mayor’s Commission on African American Males.
“I’m here to upset standards and surpass the expectations that they put on us,” says Brown, “the dream is real.”
He’s changing the game by transforming his community and he’s not done.
“The next step is to create hub,” he says, “I want to put new opportunities in the Southwest.”