Joel Montae, who goes by the artist name Classic, is gearing up for the summer with his latest release.
The rising hip hop star from Muskegon, Michigan just released a new EP titled The Loner which takes a deep dive into the topics of depression and anxiety. Based on his personal experiences with dealing with both, Classic hopes to raise awareness on the subject and address that there are many who also deal with it on a daily basis.
The upcoming artist is using his platform to spread awareness, and wants his audience to be able to take away something positive out of his music.
“Music is an escape but sometimes the issues around us can’t be ignored and need to be brought to the light,” Classic said during an interview.
Continue reading to learn more about Classic and his journey in music.
What city are you from/ Where are you based now?
I’m from Muskegon, Michigan and am currently based in Radcliff, Kentucky.
At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music?
I decided to pursue a career in music in 2010. After putting out a number of mixtapes and features with known artists such as Willie Kid who is from close to my hometown in Grand Rapids, Michigan to working with Richie Evans out in Phoenix, Arizona. I knew I had what it takes to put out music that could be heard.
Has your upbringing played a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound today? If so, how?
It has everything to do with who I am as a person as well as an artist. I’ve lived in a lot of places, as well as living outside the country when my father was still in the military.
How would you describe your sound to readers who may not be familiar with you?
My sound is visual. It’s clear imagery, and most definitely hip hop. Like my new moniker Pengameclassic, I assault with an array of styles, flows, and versatility because I can write just about any topic I choose that relates to an experience I’ve had in my life.
What ultimately inspired you to dedicate yourself to a music career?
I used my music a lot as self-therapy. I can go to a place where I see myself in a clear light and the world with all that we’re faced with. The inspiration comes from those that have used the art form before me, that made me want to rhyme myself. Being from Michigan I’m a huge Motown fan and that alone has inspired me to continue.
What’s one reason you are passionate about music and what inspires you?
I love it! There is nothing I’d rather be doing than making music. The reactions from the people who listen to my music inspire me to continue to elevate as an artist. I also love how lately I’ve been seeing how the listeners relate and share stories about their lives, and express how much my music relates to them.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?
I have many other hobbies including basketball, coaching, and fitness. Although right now, my hobbies are whatever my daughter is into. Being an active father is something that means the world to me, and since I’m so involved in music, I only have time to really engage in her needs.
Who are some of your main musical influences?
Michael Jackson as a kid. Doo-wop music and a lot of the soul sound from the Motown machine. In rap, I would say Public Enemy, Wu tang, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, KRS One, Biggie, Nas and Jay-Z to name a few.
What are some of your music career goals for the future?
To remain consistent and the continue to put out great music. Control all the things I can control and building my brand.
Tell us about the latest project that you’ve released? What is it about?
The Loner (EP) was released in May 2020. It’s available on all streaming platforms now! The project offers a deep look inside the mind of depression and an anxiety in a person. I’ve had many personal experiences and am aiming to create awareness on the topic. The climate in our world today, we’re not only facing a pandemic but also facing continued oppression and police brutality. Living with that weight on your back creates an unstable mind frame. No matter what problems we face in the world, I wanted to focus on self improvement, but also while admitting failures, stressors, worries and doubts. Each song brings out key emotions of that depression, while the entire body of work tells a story of triumph and conquering. The project was produced entirely by Casso Beats out of Buffalo, New York.
What has the response been like to that project?
The response has been great due to the timing and current events of our world. I’ve heard a lot from listeners who have related to the entire project. Some listeners have shared that they have lost a loved, one so they identified with the “Be Grateful,” track. Or how waking up everyday facing the same thing relates to a song on the project called “So Lonely.” Just about every song is someone’s favorite, and that’s what you want as an artist — to touch and reach many people through these songs in different ways.
What are some projects you’ve done that you are most proud of and why?
The Black Side project (released in 2018) addresses police brutality. Bringing awareness on that topic was huge for me because I feel like it’s a timeless project.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any upcoming projects we should be on the lookout for? Include some dates if you have them.
My next two project have been recorded already with features from Jah Monte, Koncept Jackson, Murakulous, and Skyzoo. But for now, I will continue to let The Loner shine with some visuals and then right after I’ll drop the next project.
What message do you hope fans take away from your music?
To be yourself and to be truthful in your approach. Music is an escape but sometimes the issues around us can’t be ignored and need to be brought to the light. Consume my work and take something from me that can help you enjoy your life.