This article was originally written and published in 2018.
“J. Monty is a father, husband, and rapper from South Atlanta. I love music and I love Jesus.”
“My life is kind-of navigated by what God wants to do with me through hip-hop.” Growing up, his parents listened to hip-hop and got him addicted to it also. “I really fell in love with it as a child and as a teenager I started making… It completely changed my life.”
Monty said that his biggest musical influences include Eminem, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Lil Wayne, and Common. He had been writing poetry since elementary school and started working on raps in middle school. Monty’s uncle was a producer and showed him how he made beats.
“I was right there while my brother and all my friends were outside playing. I was sitting right next to my uncle, like, ‘Show me how to do what you do.’”
His uncle taught him how to produce music, and from there Monty’s passion continued to grow.
“As soon as I started doing music, that’s when I knew ‘This was it. This is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.’”
People he knew at the time would sneak the middle school J. Monty into nightclubs and have him perform. “In my school everybody knew me as a rapper. I was passing out mixtapes. It’s been my dream since [I was] a child.”
J. Monty describes himself as an artist all around, so even when he is not making music, he loves being creative. “When I was in kindergarten, the teacher was trying to teach and I’m writing short stories about whatever I could think about.” He also loved to draw and was an avid reader throughout his youth.
“I was drawing pictures, really detailed pictures of animals like eagles or cartoon character and I would take them to school and try to sell them. I always had a little hustle.”
“God reached out to me through a series of prophetic dreams.” During a period of his life as a teen and young adult, on occasion Monty would have a dream that would become reality the following day.
“That served as an appetizer for the power of God. He was trying to get my attention.”
At that time, he was part of a group of friends who “would do illegal things with each other.”
In addition to doing illegal things together, they also made music collaboratively and had a lot of success, but Monty kept having these dreams. In one of these dreams, “it showed me that blood would be dripping from my dreads and that was my consequence for being rebellious.”
The following day, Monty was jumped, assaulted and “got my head split open and was in the hospital. I had blood dripping from my heads just like the dream showed me and I gave my life to Jesus in the hospital bed.”
The passion behind J. Monty’s music is to let people know “that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to the Father and the only way to Eternal residence with our Creator.”
“7 Nights” was birthed out of an extremely difficult time in Monty’s life.
“My wife and I got married very young. I was homeless when we got together.”
They had their first child when he was twenty-one years old. “It was really difficult to get on our feet. We’ve been married [for] six years and we’ve been pretty much for the most part poor.”
Getting by on government assistance and the help of friends and family have been what sustained the Monty family, although at periods their sustenance was insufficient. “When I really reached my breaking point was when we had our second child. We wanted to give our firstborn a sibling.”
Monty’s second son was born about a year ago. “We just weren’t ready financially.” At that time, they were unable to afford baby formula to feed their infant. “We couldn’t afford it. We went days with him crying, screaming out of hunger and just not being able to feed him.” Feeling helpless to relieve the sufferings of his child put an immense burden on Monty.
“I called friends. I called so many people to help me and it seemed very rare that somebody could help me out.” One of the friends that was generous to him at this time was fellow artist Ty Brasel. “There were times when I worked two and three jobs at a time… not sleeping for like seven days, seven nights.”
“Me and my firstborn son split a piece of bread every day for like three months straight… I would give him a single slice of bread. I would split it in half. He would eat one half [and] I would eat the other. That was my life.”
“I wanted to make a song about that struggle and what it’s like to work really hard just to pay the bills, just to make it to next month.”
Thankfully, Monty’s family is now financially secure financially. “Our kids are doing very well. They’ve both got their own rooms.”
During the most difficult of times, Monty and his wife never gave up on their faith.
“I want to make it known that God is good in the good times and the bad times.”
“21 Gold Street” was inspired by Revelation 21, “which talks about the streets of gold. Because its Revelation 21:21, I was like ‘21 Gold Street.’” The song is a metaphor saying that though Monty lives on Earth, he also has hope for Heaven where he will live for eternity. “I don’t want to wait to get to Heaven to live on the streets of gold. Where I live right now is 21 Gold Street because God says, ‘My will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
The cover of “21 Gold Street” was “actually a city that I built.” He constructed the buildings from wood that he cut and painted. “Those are real objects… The little [figure] of myself is a piece of paper that I cut. I designed that.”
“I’m a sinner.” This simple fact is the inspiration for Monty’s song “Mercy.” During his lowest lows that he talked about on “7 Nights,” he sometimes went to vices. “I was like God, I know you’re real and I love you, but I’m hurting right now.”
“We are all messed up. We all have problems. “Mercy” is just me thanking God for the fact that He kept me through one of my darkest times.” Monty’s hope is that everyone in the world hears of God’s mercy.
“I see God as the ultimate Creator… When you think about how we as humans have the ability to touch, feel, smell, taste, love, think for ourselves, have this conversation right now, that is all a byproduct of somebody creating. That’s powerful. That makes me fall in love with God even more.”
God’s creativity inspires that of Monty. He also said, “Anything I can get my hands on that is creative, I try to get to it.”
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