Since 2012, P Montana has been diligently building his brand. One of the few Afrobeats selectors alongside Afro B in the UK, he represents the earliest adopters of the blooming UK Afrobeats sound. Working from a ground level, DJ’s like P Montana made it their mission to educate crowds across the country on this vibrant new genre that was just starting to take shape.
Working on the inside of the scene from the jump, P Montana came together with like minds early on, and, as a community they sought to stretch the boundaries of this new UK Afrobeats style, “Basically I started off at university as a DJ, and I was with my manager who goes by the name of Funkz – he basically introduced me to the world of DJing – so from the uni scene I started DJing at events which led me me to doing my own events in Hertfordshire. This is where I met people like Afro B, Kenny Allstar, and then from there we were basically like, doing our own kind of tours. We’d be the DJ’s playing all cities, so we started doing Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Luton, Manchester. So as we were doing it we were going around building our reputations.”
Fast forward a few years and P Montana has been able to take his talent for curating the sound to the airwaves. His weekly radio show on Radar Radio is a showcase for the latest sounds on the scene, “You get the chance to expose new artists. That’s the good thing about radio because there’s a lot of artists that make bare sick music but they don’t have opportunities to get it out to the masses. Obviously, through radio you can help them and even from my radio shows I speak to Apple. There’s an editor at Apple that listens to my radio show every week to put new music on her playlist. So that helps a lot of artists – if they get playlisted, it’s more streams, which means more money for them.”
With audiences flocking to catch a vibe in real life, Montana refined his sets for live gigs “I just started doing the Montana show and I did one where I had Kojo Funds, Mistasilva, Timbo – just like the beginning of the whole new wave that everyone’s on now. So, this was like three years ago before everything is what it is now.” The Montana shows grew to be roadblock events an annual meeting of music and culture, “my last one was O2 Islington, which I sold out. That one I had Eugy, Moelogo, Kwams and Flavour SNE.”
Curator of that ‘new new’, it only made sense that P Montana give his audience another chance to relive his sets whenever the mood struck. “I started doing mixes – from mixes I was getting a lot of recognition, because I was getting a lot of feedback from strangers as well and this is not just London – from all over the world: Switzerland, Sweden, Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Russia like, random places! So everytime I dropped a mix people would give me feedback saying they liked it. So I just kept pushing the mixes.”
Everything stems from Afrobeats. Everything else is subgenres underneath it.
For P Montana, bringing together all the threads from the UK Afrobeats scene, is second nature to him. I ask how easy it is to be a part of such a relatively small community in UK Afrobeats music, “everyone knows each other so everyone is friends. So when it came to making music, it wasn’t hard for everyone to hear it because everyone’s cool with each other.”
Now with the release of his debut compilation mixtape ‘Rah Boy Vol 1’, P Montana has drawn on those years of experience as a club DJ. It’s a compilation that not only feels current but one that resonates with the students, ravers, and hall party dancers, “how I’ve been saying it is, everything stems from Afrobeats. Everything else is subgenres underneath it, people may feel to call it Afropop, or Afroswing, Afrowave, Afrobashment – just depends how you’re feeling at the time. The majority of artists are African anyway, that’s why it’s ‘Afro’ slash X, Y, Z. Something like ‘Fine Wine’? That’s completely a Bashment riddim. But because Kojo and Bane are African, you cannot say it’s a Dancehall riddim. Kojo Fund’s accent is African as well so that’s where the Afrobeats stems from.”
The compilation is bursting with the kind of talent that has come to define the Afrowave of UK music this year, NSG, Kwams and Flavour, Tobz, Belly Squad, Lotto Boyzz, Shauna Shadae and SNE are only the taste of the guest features spread across 13 tracks. I ask how easy it’s been to bring it all together and why he chose the artists he did, “it came from artists I was listening to at the time. Redbull just hit me up and just said they like what I’m doing, like how I work with artists, “why don’t you just make a project?”. I was thinking of doing one anyways so they just came at the right time and throughout June I just brought tons of artists through making music everyday. 16 hour days.”
Filled with the artists P Montana knows and loves, ‘Rah Boy Vol.1’ is the culmination of years of building, and is likely to stack up even more plays to add to his already burgeoning 20 million plays of his mixes across Mixcloud and Soundcloud so far. Vol. 1 marks just the beginning, P Montana is as much a part of the scene as he is a lover of its music, and when it comes to the breakout artists of the next wave, he is sure to among the first to spread the word.
Whatever you choose to call it, UK Afrobeats is unstoppable, with record after record charting before even being playlisted on mainstream radio. There’s no denying the wave has been building for years, but this year it’s reached that tipping point. Beyond the radio spins and club nights, the stages are getting bigger, with more headline shows and festival spots being offers to the DJ’s who’ve been leading the wave.
This bank holiday weekend is a busy one for P Montana alongside being on the line up to the BBK Takeover at O2 Arena, he’ll be heading to the Notting Hill Carnival. Red Bull bring back their sound system after a two year hiatus and this time are adding UK Afrobeats selectors and artists to their line up on Sunday including P Montana alongside Belly Squad and Afro B.