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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Jordan Montgomery

Jordan Montgomery is a Pittsburgh rapper and the CEO of Driving While Black Records. His forthcoming new album – "Prime Real Estate" – features beats from Big Jerm – a producer known for his work with Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and the Pittsburgh-based production collective ID Labs. Montgomery is a gifted and inventive lyricist who may be the first person to ever make a song comparing himself to a Zamboni. Jordan Montgomery recently spoke with Morning Mix host Joey Spehar about running a music collective, working with Big Jerm, and taking chances lyrically.

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

What’s your musical history up to this point?

I’ve released three solo albums and three collaborative projects up to this point. I’ve been making music since I was 14. I’m 27 now so that’s 13 years. The success I’ve achieved during this last string of projects has helped me prove to myself that I’m on the right path with my career. I believe this next album will be my biggest.

How do you describe your sound?

I’ve always been known for my lyrical ability. While it’s something I’m proud of, I feel that it has boxed me in as an artist. I’ve heard critiques in the past where people didn’t think I could make fun or radio friendly records. I’ve been working to debunk that criticism while staying true to my artistry. I’m still perfecting the formula but I’m getting very close.

Tell us about the your record label – "Driving While Black."

"Driving While Black" operates more like a collective versus a traditional record label. Every artist on the roster is very involved in the decision making. We are all very passionate about the future of the label. I think our cohesiveness keeps us moving on all cylinders. Whether it’s on stage or on a record, our energy can be felt by our audience. I’m very excited about what’s next for our individual careers and the next phase of the label. We want to make Driving While Black a household name in hip hop and pop culture.

Tell us more about the song “Zamboni.” What inspired you to write it? 

“Zamboni” is the first single from my collaborative album with Big Jerm called Prime Real Estate. Jerm is most known for his work with Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, and ID Labs. Growing up in Pittsburgh, I’ve been a fan of his work for years and always had interest in working with him. One day I saw he was selling beats online. I heard the beat for “Zamboni” and was blown away. I immediately sent him an email. He got back to me quickly and I bought the beat the same day. I kept buying beats from him over the course of the year and before I knew it I had a project’s worth of material. I always try to get very creative with my bars, and the word Zamboni happened to fit within the rhyme structure of the hook. I never heard of a song that had Zamboni in the title so I was confident that I struck gold at that moment.

What was the first album that really changed your life? 

I would say that "It Was Written" by Nas was the album that changed my life. When I was starting to get into music, I began to revisit classic records. When I first heard “If I Ruled The World” from that album, it made me want to start rapping. I mimicked those bars in my own songwriting early on. It’s still one of my favorite albums to this day. Maybe one day I’ll release my own version of that track in the future.

What’s the best part about making music in Pittsburgh?

I’m lucky to have made tons of friends in the Pittsburgh music scene. There’s often criticism that Pittsburgh artists don’t support each other but I don’t think that’s 100% true. I think the city has gotten a lot better at collaborating with one another and not feeling like they have to compete. I’m truly inspired by my fellow artists because I believe that any one of us has limitless potential. The city is experiencing a creative renaissance right now and I’m very happy to be a part of it.

Any other super interesting things about you we should know?

My new single "Zamboni" is out now! My album Prime Real Estate will be released later this year. More music and content coming very soon!

Learn more about Jordan Montgomery:

Apple Music

Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.