In a world where fast cars, Gucci belts and cough syrup fueled lyrics reigns supreme, how does a humble guy from a small town in the Southwest break in? For Dylan Montayne — you can keep that façade. It would only take away from the genius of his music. Montayne can ride a beat like it owes him money. He can chop it up faster than a chef and seamlessly blend every style into his flow with effortless confidence. His music speaks for itself — and you’re going to want to listen.
On the surface, his first album Rebecca Lane is a love letter. But behind the lyrics, his music paints a picture of a guy whose undeniable talent and dedication are about to take him on the journey of a lifetime. We sat down with Montayne after the release of the first chapter in his career to deconstruct what’s next for this rapper who is about to put the Denver rap scene on the map.
303 Magazine: Your music is broadly classified as rap, but your latest album incorporates everything from Latin-influenced guitar riffs to lyrical R&B hooks. How do you describe your style of music in your own words?
Dylan Montayne: For me, it’s really hard to narrow down what style I fit into. My lyrical style and vocal style is more influenced by classic rappers like Nas, Jay-Z, Tupac, Method Man and all the greats because that’s what I grew up listening to. But I also come from a family where we listen to a really diverse range of music. My mom would play reggae all the time. She was also really into motown, Marvin Gaye and all that. My dad was more into rock ‘n’ roll and introduced me to Led Zeppelin. I had older siblings too, I’m the youngest. I was lucky because [my siblings] had really good musical tastes. Both my sister and brother were really responsible for the rap thing. I think all of those influences led me to the type of music I make today. It’s rap — for sure — but there are a lot more organic elements and instrumentation, like real drums and real guitars.
303: Tell me more about the inspiration behind your first album, Rebecca Lane.
DM: I grew up in New Mexico and there’s not a lot to do where I’m from so you create your own fun. A place that we would all go to kind of chill and hang out growing up was called Rebecca Lane. It was this dirt road with a good view of the town that we would hang out at and have fun. My album tells a story, and I wanted to put it in the context of where I was at that time. I wanted it to reflect that level of freedom. Rebecca Lane is setting up the foundation for my story — my roots.
303: You’re originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Why did you move to Denver?
DM: Denver has a really good music scene, and I think the city embraces the arts in general. It’s also the closest major city from where I grew up. I remember coming here thinking this was big city livin’, so I’ve always thought of Denver as a place I’d like to live. The people here love music so much that you don’t have to sell your shows — they sell themselves. One of the first things I noticed when I came here was that I barely had to sell my show. I told people about it, and everyone came. I didn’t know a lot of people at the time here, but everybody came out to see me, and it’s just continued to be that way. Denver’s a great environment for that.
303: How do you plan to leave your mark in Denver?
DM: I think there are certain scenes in Denver that are more popular than others. The EDM scene is huge here and same with the jam band scene. There’s really not that big of a draw for rap, but there are a lot of good Denver rappers. I don’t think there’s been “that person” yet who’s put it on. I think every city needs somebody who takes it to the next level. I want to be that guy. I want to be that guy from Denver who brings attention to the rest of the scene, and then everybody can eat. There are some amazing artists here who don’t get the love that they should get — but nobody expects rap to come out of Denver. You need some shine on the scene, someone to flip the script.
303: After watching you perform, I know you have the potential to be that guy. Where does your onstage energy and presence come from?
DM: I’ve been performing my whole life. I started playing drums at the age of five, doing talent shows and all that. When I get on stage, it really feels like that’s where I belong because it’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Obviously, there are nerves and everything involved, but as soon as the first song starts and I get out there, I’m just immediately comfortable. I feel like that’s where I should be — that’s what drives the motivation. There’s nothing else that makes me feel that comfortable. I think that’s a sign to myself that I’m on the right path.
303: What’s the next step on that path?
DM: I’d like to have an album where I work with artists from completely different genres. I think I’m able to do that because I can diversify my sound enough to where it’s not just purely rap all the time. I’ve got more music already in the works. The goal is to never let the momentum end.
You can catch that momentum in action at Syntax Physic Opera on January 12 and stream his album Rebecca Lane below.